I cannot remain silent any longer. The easy thing to do would be to accept the consensus. But that is not what I am about. So strap yourselves in because what I’m about to say may provoke a storm. Rihanna’s behaviour was inappropriate.
Of course it’s not popular to say so these days. It’s practically impossible to poke a head above the parapet to voice an opinion that upholds the traditional values of the countryside. But I don’t care. Someone has to shout stop.
Let me be clear: You cannot use a grain field to film a raunchy ‘pop’ video when the wheat is clearly ready for cutting. What kind of a world do we live in when a multi-platinum R&B singer can hold up the combine harvester? Like many, I was aghast at footage of her swaying suggestively while in the background, the neighbouring field had already been baled. And Calvin Harris? He may have once wowed the world with the grime-and-dance collaboration with Dizzee Rascal – Dance Wiv Me – but he has gone down in my estimation following his involvement in this debacle.
Thankfully – under some pretext of being offended by Rihanna’s breasts – the DUP man stepped in. I feel a little for Alderman Alan Graham. This kindly farmer must have watched, dismayed, as things got out of hand and some other things got into hand. To see his yields reduced as precious ears of grain were knocked to the ground by Rihanna’s flailing bra.
This is presumably not what he imagined when he accepted the big wedge of cash the production company handed him. Bangor is not the first community to have expectations confounded when the juggernaut of international celebrity rolls into town, nor will it be the last. Dripsey too had its brief moment amid the glare of the spotlight and the TTACKK! of the director’s clapperboard. Long before footage of the shortest St Patrick’s Day parade at Dripsey Cross was beamed all over the planet, there was another, less well-remembered brush with glamour.
In 1982, Gabriel Byrne came to town. At that stage, Byrne was chewing up the scenery as he brooded his way around ‘Bracken’; the forerunner to Glenroe and an altogether more serious affair. The entire sum of the Miley-Fidelma or Dick-Terry fumblings could not match the latent sexual tension in Gabriel Byrne’s eyebrows. And one summer, he brought those eyebrows to Dripsey to make a filum.
He played the role of William Master in a movie called ‘Reflections’. It’s plot is described rather unpromisingly in Wikipedia as: “A writer working on a biography of Isaac Newton goes to stay with a declining aristocratic family and becomes entangled with them.”
If you’re aristocratic, you’ll be wanting some sort of castle. Built by Cormac Laidir McCarthy in the 15th century, Dripsey Castle fitted the bill perfectly and a production crew was on site for a number of weeks. Locals turned out to watch the stars in action. There are grainy photos of my mother standing next to Gabriel. She’s wearing a pair of plaid flares and looks girlish. None of her sons are there to spoil the moment. As I look at it I imagine a slight glint in her eyes. Do I see a hint of a flirtation with Ireland’s cultural ambassador? Whatever it was, it was fleeting. One day, the crew packed up and left; and life returned to normal.
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that only the exterior shots for ‘Reflections’ were done at Dripsey Castle. The interiors were shot elsewhere. We could glean little of the plot from the brooding walks that the protagonists sometimes took in the scenes we saw being filmed, so we really had no idea what the movie was about.
And it would be some years before we were to find out. Funnily enough, ‘Reflections’ was not writ large on cinema marquees around the country. But when RTE1 was scheduled to show it one night later that decade, excitement reached fever pitch in Dripsey. “You might see Mama in this” joked my father when we settled down as a family to watch it.
As the plot synopsis hinted, a film about Newton’s biographer’s entanglements required a high tolerance for nothing much happening. There were no giant snakes, no Flash Gordon jumping out of an exploding villain-lair. Families in the area were about to tell the youngest to get up and change the channel when things started to warm up. As William Master further entangled himself with the aristocratic clan, some of the tangling got a bit tingly. After much circling, he was eventually alone with some European wan called Otilie Garainger. And you didn’t need to be a cultural ambassador to know that if there were continentals involved, there was likely to be a more Rihanna-like approach to rural dress-code.
Without prior written warning, Otilie ripped off every stitch of upper body clothing. And we, like Newton’s biographer, were left in no doubt that the Law of Gravity does not always apply.
It turned out William Master was not entirely at a loss to know what to do in this situation and before long, the two of them were shaking Dripsey Castle to its foundations.
As if echoing Alderman Alan Graham, my mother muttered something about “not really appropriate” and changed the channel to whatever ‘extra programme’ (usually a dystopian Polish cartoon) RTE were showing on the other side.
Like Rihanna would say: “Disturbia”.