‘WHAT’S happenin’?” was the bemused greeting from Dave Fanning to BP Fallon outside the crowded Hen’s Teeth gallery in Fade Street, Dublin, last Thursday night.
BP was “happening” as he has been for decades, in his own laid-back, laconic style.
Puffing a trademark fag, we were on the street as the crowds jostled inside looking at his photographs — a beaming Ronnie Drew with a semi-naked female DJ, Elvis Costello coming out of an old-school P&T phone box, Keith Richards with his sticky fingers in Ronnie Wood’s mouth in Moscow — just a few of the moments that The Beeb (or Bernard as close friends call him) captured during his rock and roll years.
But don’t use the past tense with BP. “It’s still happening, man,” declares the wandering bandit who is one of the very few people in Dublin who deserves the accolade ‘ legend’.
His photos include portraits of Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Shane MacGowan, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson... if they were playing, then BP — with his trademark Derby hat and trailing coat — was hanging out somewhere at the side of the stage, just being himself.
We were handed a brandy and soda and when John Hughes, manager of The Corrs, who was there with his daughter Anna, asked for a mineral the waiter shrugged her shoulders to say ‘none of the soft stuff tonight’. “That’s rock and roll for you,” shrugged John in return.
Zozimus, who at one time soldiered in the Sunday Independent with BP, was glad to see another old colleague, the cartoonist Tom Mathews, also in attendance.
We are, we all agreed, just glad to be alive.
******* SPEAKING of rock and roll, we see Leo Varadkar’s onetime ‘Sir Humphrey’ Tom O’Mahony has shrugged off his pin-striped suit and reappeared complete with blue suede shoes as Tommy Keyes.
The one-time mandarin, who served under Noel Dempsey and Paschal Donohoe and finished his career as secretary-general in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, has left the corridors of power to resume a career as a singer-songwriter.
We don’t know whether his new album, Temptation Once Again, was released to coincide with the Budget or the supply and confidence negotiations, but it’s getting noticed in the right places.
“It’s all there: love, loss, success, failure, pain, loneliness, friends and family,” says Hot Press about his new release — and, yeah, that sounds exactly like the life a top civil servant has to put up with when dealing with his minister.
Can’t be bad when he’s got Richie Buckley on sax and Dick Farrelly on guitar and a string quartet thrown in.
Tommy is now chasing that elusive entity — an audience — and good luck to him. obviously enjoyed his good fortune to the full. According to papers lodged in the Probate Office in Dublin the surgeon with the golden touch, who died in 2014, left just €30,000 in his will.
Back in 1991, Dr Beesley hit the Lotto jackpot, winning £1.3m with a ticket he bought in the local newsagents in Glenageary.
He also had a share in a £1.4m Lotto syndicate, but it wasn’t quite as lucrative as some thought.
“Everybody thinks we’re millionaires — it’s unbelievable,” he said after his second Lotto success.
“We had to split one of the wins six ways, which meant only €150,000 each.”
Then, after vowing to give up buying Lotto tickets, Dr Beesley emerged as a winner on the National Lottery game show Winning Streak in 2003, walking off with €12,900 in cash and a €3,750 holiday in San Francisco.
Dr Bill, who lived in Sandycove, Dublin, and operated from the private Blackrock Clinic, also rode the property boom when he sold his Sandycove home in 2004 for more than €1.55m, before the collapse of the property market.
******* ZOZIMUS sees where film director Jim Sheridan is helping with the housing crisis — he’s building a house in the back garden of his upmarket home on leafy St Mary’s Road in D4.
Sheridan — best known for directing the Oscarwinning film My Left Foot — took an interest in the Apollo House occupation, visiting the now demolished office block to show his solidarity with the occupants.
The neighbours didn’t show the same solidarity when he applied to build a two-bedroom house in his back garden — because it meant the removal of mature trees on a shared laneway and they objected to this “changing the character” of the neighbourhood of Edwardian red-bricks.
An Bord Pleanala has ruled the development can go ahead and is rearranging the off-street parking to facilitate a side gate to the new Sheridan residence. The sting is in the tail, however — planners have hit him with a bill for €10,000 as a contribution to the costs of these changes. ******* WILLIE Rock, who died last week at the age of 85, was an old-style reporter who worked for many years with the Sunday Press. Originally from the tenements in Pearse Street, Dublin, he got his big break when Muhammad Ali came to Dublin in July 1972. It was a story filled with characters — ‘Butty’ Sugrue, the Kerry publican who promoted the fight; Pat Quinn, who put Ali up at his Kilternan Country Club hotel; and Ali, of course. Willie hung on outside the hotel when the rest of the hacks exhausted the free drink and went home for the night. He got chatting to Ali’s mother, Odessa — who then brought him in to meet Ali who gave him an exclusive interview. That’s how he got a coveted job on the Sunday Press.
******* DOUBLE Lotto winner ‘Lucky’ Bill Beesley