I met Sinéad O’Connor once. She came into the nerdy shop I worked in one drab Saturday morning. She was absolutely stunning. She looked around at the capacitors and resistors and usb hubs and was confused. “Toys?” she asked. “Next door,” I answered and nodded to the toy superstore attached to our humble cave for geeks with soldering irons.
She was a permanent fixture of my childhood. I loved her voice. When I got on the internet, in 1994, one of the first things I can remember doing was printing out photos of Aimee Mann and Sinéad O’Connor. The ink back then probably cost the same as a deposit on a house. The quality resembled the marbling art we did in primary school but they hung with pride among my posters of Marco Van Basten and R.E.M.
My older brother took me to see her live. The voice was breathtaking. I remember “This Is The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance” being a jaw-dropping exercise in making noise that made you feel things.
I had seen Aimee Mann live the year before in a library in RDS by the way; my first gig. I remember feeling the physical thump of the bass guitar at the start- such a surprise. I went to bed that night feeling for the first time that strange hum that I have since heard is the dying of cells in the eardrum. After Sinéad though, I developed a life-long love for gold Les Pauls.
All this is to say: I have a soft spot for Sinéad. I have followed her since before the Pope-photo-ripping, through the ordination into a schismatic Catholic priesthood, through the avowal of lesbianism, the denial of the Irish famine and the espousal of Rastafarianism.
Recently she wrote something very amusing on her website. (Her website is here but the posts can’t be linked to directly) It spoke about how she suffered from “the desperate horn“. Wonderfully upfront Dublin-isms abound in the various missives she has published over the last few weeks about how hard it has been to find a man. She has written about her hesitancy to use internet dating because well, she would be publicly mocked. Better to control the mocking, one supposes, by speaking directly via your own site.
Wife-Unit and I thought her initial post, about how her desperation led her to imagine yams for purposes not likely to be featured in a Jamie Oliver book anytime soon was very amusing. It seems we didn’t get the joke because Ireland has been quick to lay into Sinéad and generally conclude that she is mental. Ireland sometimes makes the mistake of thinking its more fun to laugh at than to laugh with.
I would have thought that in the long list of curious things Sinéad has done in public, this doesn’t even feature on the list. Is it not 2011? Are we not post-Tiger Ireland? Doesn’t everybody know that true liberation comes only in the sexual sphere?
It seems that the sexual mores of Ireland are as hypocritical as they were in the bad old days, just without the virtue of encouraging monogamy and marriage. Sinéad must be mental, it seems, to admit in public that she likes anal sex. That this shocks anyone who is over the age of 16 and under the age of 60 defies belief. Her response to this is genuinely witty:
I must say, my greatest amusement this week is that on this day last week I had 3 followers on twitter. since I mentioned anal sex I have almost 2000! The funniest question I was asked this week was ” arent you insane to talk about anal sex in public?” Answer? No! Rude? Yes. Bold? Yes. ” inappropriate? Arguable. But insane? Why THAT’S insane!
What Sinéad has written over the last few weeks is funny. And it is totally in line with the public morality of contemporary Ireland. That she is judged and considered insane for writing with brazen humour (surely a class of writing Irish people have always excelled at) demonstrates that the progression towards whatever it is we call the society we live in, post-Christendom/secular/troika-era, is fatuous. We’re as obsessed with the secret sin of others as we were when Archbishop Charles McQuaid stomped around with influence. Zizek defines that as fundamentalism. And the only thing worse than religious fundamentalism is secular fundamentalism.
Long live the witty writing of Joseph and Sinéad O’Connor. And may Sinéad find love.
Your Correspondent, If he ever goes crazy, you’ll be the ones he trusts to tell him the truth