Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just can't say goodbye.

I always going to marry Stephen Gately. I just knew it. In forth class I didn’t care that Zara Power said he was gay (hadn‘t a clue what she meant), I didn’t mind when he came out - like most Boyzone fans I was fiercely protective of lickle Stevo and just plain glad he wasn’t marrying Keri Ann - I brushed off the comments “you do know he is gay?” with my own brand of odd humor “oh that was just a publicity stunt everyone knows his really straight…”. I have often explained to my boyfriend of many a year at this stage his only Stephen Gately bait. I think he knew I was actually serious and that wasn’t my own brand of odd humor. More importantly I was going to marry Stephen when Boyzone split, when his single didn’t reach number one and when his record label dropped him. I was a Stephen Gately fan and that meant I’d buy all the Boyzone albums, listen to his solo album, support him on the West End, vote for him on Dancing on Ice and google him when he wasn’t doing much at all. I was in it for the long haul.

I woke up this morning to a large number of missed calls, texts (messages on twitter/ facebook etc that I’d no idea about). The first text was asking me if I was ok and they were really sorry about the chap from Boyzone. I felt like I’d be punched - “not Stephen not Stephen not Stephen” I thought but the next text confirmed it. Stephen Gately had died. My Stephen Gately. Who I wrote I love… 4 eva… probably a million times whilst doodling at school. Who when I’m upset I stick on his song Shooting Star or some dodgy video I’d taped off the TV. Who I was banned from playing on College Radio. Who I’ve travelled far and wide to see and often spend too long rambling to strangers about. Who I was always going to marry.

In the past six months I’d invites to a few PR events where I knew Stephen and the rest of Boyzone would be present and despite that being the ultimate fan girl I didn’t go. While I’d meet the rest of Boyzone and Louis I’d never met Stephen and I didn’t really know if I wanted too. I’d him build so much in my head - what if he was just plain rude or thought I was crazy? After all I’m a grown up now I should act like one I though fainting or screaming wouldn’t go down well. I seriously doubted my ability to say anything but I love you and I want to marry you. Could I even stop myself from kidnapping him?

I blogged a few months ago after seeing Boyzone in the O2 two nights in a row about how much Boyzone meant to me growing up and how much their reunion now means to me. It got printed on the official Boyzone so I like to think maybe he read it. Now more then ever I am so thankful that Boyzone reunited not because I got to see them a few more times all together but because it made Stephen so happy and that was all any Gately Girl ever wanted. He needed Boyzone more than the others and the other members really did take care of him. There was always that sense that he was more fragile. I put it down to him being pisces.

I’m sad now because there won’t be anymore tours and albums but also because he won‘t get to see the new Harry Potter movie and he loved Harry Potter. He’d of loved Up and the X Factor. I like to think he’d of ended up involved in the Michael Jackson tribute next year. He wanted to adopt and he’d of been a great Dad. He never got to have an Irish wedding…

When Stephen Gately joined Boyzone in 93 being gay in Ireland was illegal and now his dead we still don’t allow gay men and women to marry. (I know a form of it is on the way but still?)

My heart goes out to the rest of Boyzone who I have as much love for - I can’t imagine how they feel and his family who he adored esp. his sister and Mother. His Mother was so proud in the beginning she’d let fans in to the house for tea and give them a sneaky peak of Stephens room. And of course his partner Andrew with whom Stephen seemed settled, stable and in love.

If I had to pick a mastermind topic Stephen Gately would be it. I know a massive amount from the simple standard stats any fan girls should know such as height, birthday, favourite colour to his dislikes and likes, who worked for him, his dreams and then of course the rumors that were true and ones that were false and the rumors people had never heard of. I knew Stephen Gately and I understood and loved him. Yet really I never knew Stephen. I have no right to grief as I do when his real loved ones are in so much pain. I never met him. I wasn’t his friend and he was never going to be my husband. I know I’m just a fan but yet I still mourn.

I’m glad I was a Gately Girl for 15 years. RIP Stephen Gately. I love you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

He who is without sin cast the first stone.

It might be an unpopular belief but I feel John O'Donoghue has been hard done by and no I'm not a member Fianna Fail (Fine Gael in fact) or from Kerry. I've been hit hard (but not hardest) by the recession, and so have my family and friends. I'm not wearing rose tinted glasses but I refuse to be petty and bitter about our boom years.

I find it hard to watch someone who has worked hard and did an excellent job as Minster for the Arts, Sports and Tourism be made out to be such a villain. Okay his expenses are crazy but I'm sure once the majority are investigated we'll see that he was not the only one to have over indulged. That was the mentality of the time. It is the system that is wrong not the people who use. It's human nature to use these things to our benefit. When I was a child my Mother taught me when someone offers you something you take it and say thank you. To this day if someone gives me something I accept it and say thank you. I don't slide into "are you sure?" "you need it more".

In college I had my first experience in claiming expenses. I was on the committee of five different societies and while we did a lot of good (making friends, developing life skills and raising money for charity) we did spend a lot on non essential things like food and drink or pointless days out. The theory was we had to spend all the money we'd been allocated or else next year our budget will be cut. So we made sure that we spend all the money. I didn't question it. Meanwhile in the same college my course was underfunded and I was being taught in a prefab building out the back of the college with a family of foxes living under it, the equipment was 20 years old, we'd 4 computers between 19 people and we had to be really quiet so we wouldn't wake the homeless guy who lived a tent in the high grass a few feet away... and yes this was in the boom years.

In college I had my first and only experience with John O'Donoghue. He was one of the few Fianna Fail ministers who gave freely of his time to our tiny student radio station (I was studying Radio). He was always lovely with a smile or chuckle in his voice. Perhaps he found my meek interviewing technique and squeaky radio voice amusing I don't know but I glad he took our calls.

Lets look at the world stage and compare for a second. We're shocked John O'Donoghue would bring his wife with him on trips. Italy are shocked (kinda?) that Berlusconi would cheat on his wife and party with hookers on a boat... We're appalled that John O'Donoghue used VIP airport lounges. In the UK people are appalled a Conservative member of parliament, Douglas Hogg, put in for expenses that included the cleaning of a moat around his country estate.

The nail in the coffin no doubt for most people was his trips abroad that matched up with race meetings. If John O"Donoghue hadn't been Minster for Arts, Sports, and Tourism since 2002 this in my mind would be unacceptable too but remember that it was his passion for sport that made him such a good minister maybe his found this hard to left behind and no doubt at these race meetings he was still representing the government and networking with his existing contacts.

So what are we all so angry about? Are we angry at this one person? At the government? At the civil service? The only people we should be angry with ourselves. We voted them in. We didn't pay attention to how the funding in our Health or Education sections were being put to use, we liked our pay increases and didn't question their spending. It reminds me of the bit in the film Independence's Day when someone yells at The President "you didn't think they really spend $500 on a hammer did you?" Like them we didn't think the good times would end. So instead of moaning about our income levy's and pay cuts we should take a little of responsibility for the Credit Cards we max'd out on trips to New York or the car loan we knew we couldn't afford. We were all living beyond our means from the very top to the very bottom. For every crooked staff member in Fas there is a person claiming social welfare payments they aren't entitled too so (and for every good hard working member of Fas there is someone who deserves more support from Social Welfare) maybe we all get off our high horses and disband our lynch mobs because we all had a hand in the death of Celtic Tiger.

Leave John O'Donoghue alone. His a good man who did a good job. He didn't do anything illegal. He made silly mistakes - his human. Don't confuse the injustice on how the crooked bankers got away with it and how head of Fas got a €1 million golden hand shake with exaggerated anger at his expenses. It won't made us feel any better in the long run. Use the energy that could be spend on a witch hunt on reforming the system, debating NAMA and getting the budget right. We'll never get to the other side of this recession if we're stopping every two seconds to point the finger and it won't be long before finger is pointed right back at you.