ffraydadThat we were different was never in doubt. Most English people think that Father Ted is a wacky, delightfully surreal comedy, while most Irish people, or people of Irish descent, regard it as an interesting fly on the wall documentary. My father would think nothing of running through the house dressed only in a towel, singing ‘Nickety Nackety Noo Noo Noo’ at the top of his voice – in fact this was a common ritual after his bath and he would see no reason not to do it even when we had visitors, which mortified my mother, who lived in a state of constant anxiety about being shown up by him. He behaved as if he’d never left the wilds of Ireland, and the ways of this country were a mystery to him. I love that comment by the Polish writer, Eva Hoffman, ‘Every immigrant is an amateur anthropologist’, I know exactly what she means. I longed for him to be more like other people’s dads but, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realise that this feeling of being different to other people, of not fitting in, of being finely attuned to the sheer strangeness of human behaviour, has probably been an enormous influence on me becoming a writer. Although he could be frightening and unpredictable, he was also often (unintentionally) hilarious, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that now I just can’t imagine writing anything that doesn’t contain a lot of humour.

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