Friday, August 28, 2009

The to-do list

My Nightwatch column in today's Day and Night magazine - it's based on my trip earlier this month to the Flat Lake festival outside Clones, Co Monaghan - the most unusual boutique festival in Ireland. (Check it out at

By Susan Daly

Friday August 28 2009

I never thought it would happen to me. Isn't that what Lotto winners say? Or people who have had the roof ripped off their kitchen by a freak tornado in Mayo?

Well it did. Happen to me. In a tent in a field in Monaghan. Against that unlikely backdrop, I came face to face with my two 'free pass' celebs.

For those of you not familiar with the 'free pass' game, the idea is that you have a list of famous people with whom you are allowed to have your wicked way should the opportunity arise. It doesn't matter if you are dating someone else, engaged to your school sweetheart or married to Christ. If your star crush somehow comes into your earthly orbit, you have a get-out-of-jail-free card for the night.

It's kind of like the plotline for Indecent Proposal except the celeb is unlikely to also pay you $1m. You might have to pay them, though.

Most people play it with a group of pals. If you are slightly dysfunctional, you play it with your partner.

Naturally, The Fella and I have done so.

His choice is Penelope Cruz, which I applaud because: A. She is super hot, and B. He's about as likely to bump into her in Hogan's bar as I am to screen test for Pedro Almodóvar.

Saying that, he did once meet Michelle Pfeiffer and Salma Hayek on the same day. He shared an elevator with La Pfeiffer ("very quiet") and held the door open for Hayek (she doesn't enter rooms, apparently, she "explodes" into them).

Salma -- not a bad substitute for Penelope if one was stuck -- thanked him for his chivalry, but, alas for him, it went no further.

Mind you, this all happened at a large international film festival. The odds of getting within slobbering distance of the A-list actor of your dreams are rather better there than, say, at the penguin enclosure at Dublin Zoo.

Or indeed at a small arts festival at some country pile outside Clones. I'm a big fan of the Flat Lake Fest, hosted by the inimitable Pat 'The Butcher Boy' McCabe and Keith 'Lily's dad' Allen and his brother, Kevin 'Lily's uncle' Allen. It's got brass bands, death metallers, a tug-of-war, poet deathmatches and Shane Macgowan's best suit for auction.

And now, the stuff of The Fella's nightmares. Our first call this year was to the theatre tent for a tribute to playwright Harold Pinter. Oh I know, my life is a whiteknuckle ride. It gets better.

On stage was Dominic West; in the audience was Cillian Murphy. The two celebs on my 'to do' list.

If I have to explain who Dominic West or The Wire is to you then, excellent. I will not have to fight you for him.

Back to this sweltering tent in Monaghan: I nearly went cross-eyed trying to keep a lascivious eye on them both. Dominic -- I think he would like it if I called him that -- had dropped his Baltimore drawl from The Wire to read Pinter in his native, crystal-cut English accent and he had shaved his head. But the minute he smirked at the audience, he was pure McNulty. Swoon.

To my disappointment, Cillian slipped out of the tent after a few minutes.

"He came back in," said The Fella. "He was standing beside me for the rest of it." Right beside The Fella meant right behind me.

"Why didn't you give me a nudge?" I moaned. The Fella arched an eyebrow. I got the point. He might be game to go along with my free pass windfall -- but he sure as hell wasn't going to be the facilitator.

Of course the problem with being within 10ft of your celeb crushes is that it makes them real.

And you can't be silly about real people.

Dominic was queuing for organic sausage sandwiches with his pretty wife and tiny baby when I next saw him. They seemed very happy together, dammit.

Cillian looked decidedly normal cracking open a can of Heineken and playing tunes from his iMac for a crowded barn dance. He had nice hair and a Cork accent that would turn the Liffey red and white.

In the end, neither of them kept me in chocolate brownies and beer all weekend. Neither of them passed me spare baby wipes over the door of the eco-loo. Dear reader, I went home with The Fella.

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