Arms and the Critics…

Newton Emerson returns to form with this satirical literary critique of Sinn Fein’s performance during its long journey from rejection to acceptance of policing and justice. For instance: “2005’s long-awaited sequel ‘Arms and Aardvarks’ was described as ‘dreadfully slow’, ‘poorly plotted’ and ‘lacking a sense of completeness'”.

Gerry Adams will publish the third volume of his political memoirs at the end of January, according to industry sources, but only if favourable reviews can be guaranteed in advance. The book, provisionally entitled ‘Pigs and Parlours’, will explore the Sinn Fein leader’s personal struggle to recognise the criminal justice system after youths set fire to his wheelie-bin. Publishers are confident that it will sell out but the author is thought to have serious reservations about the final chapter.

“Like most creative people, Gerry Adams is surprisingly sensitive,” said Irish Times literary editor Ulysses Grant. “He finds it difficult to finish anything unless he’s absolutely sure that everyone will love it.”

Mr Adams has received mixed reviews in the past. His 1994 work ‘Sin and Cessation’ was widely regarded as a confident debut but 2005’s long-awaited sequel ‘Arms and Aardvarks’ was described as “dreadfully slow”, “poorly plotted” and “lacking a sense of completeness”. Mr Adams was subsequently blamed for the disastrous collapse of Puffin-Trimble-Albatross, which had underwritten the entire print run without updating its insurance.

To prevent a repeat of this unfortunate incident, Mr Adams is demanding positive reviews from everyone prior to publication. Critics known to admire the Sinn Fein leader’s style will be given a rough synopsis of his latest work while critics believed to be hostile will be told nothing at all.

If the reviews are favourable, Sinn Fein will call an ard fheis of its ard comhairle and release an ard back. Paper backing will follow in An Phoblacht.

“If the book doesn’t appear then the critics alone will be responsible and the readers of Ireland should hold them to account,” said a Sinn Fein spokesman. Sinn Fein’s own accounts were held in a wheelie bin until the disastrous fire which may or may not be movingly described in ‘Pigs and Parlours’.

Several advance reviews have already appeared in the specialist press.

The Whitehall and Cheltenham Intercept says: “Mr Adams will deliver a polished manuscript which should satisfy anyone in need of a manuscript or a polishing.”

The Drumcondra Occasional Reader says: “If Mr Adams’ previous work is any guide, then his next effort must be an improvement.”

The Hillsborough Hain & High says: “A book you can’t pick up is a book you can’t put down.”

However, the Ballymena Observer says: “We’ll review it when we’ve something to review”. Last night, Sinn Fein described the Ballymena Observer as “an enemy of the publishing process.”

There is some speculation in the industry that Mr Adams is simply stirring up a fuss to generate publicity.

“Sales will undoubtedly benefit from weeks of headlines like ‘Will he publish?’, ‘What’s in the book?’ and ‘Evil critics hinder Ireland’s greatest genius’,” said Ulysses Grant. “But Mr Adams should consider the long-term impact on his artistic credibility. What sort of author lets the critics decide if his latest work gets published? What successful author even cares about his critics at the end of the day? If an author feels that he has something important to say, shouldn’t he have the confidence in himself and his audience to just go ahead and say it?”

Sinn Fein reacted angrily to Mr Grant’s remarks.

“That’s a bigoted anti-republican analysis,” said a party spokesman.

“Any talk like that a month from now and we’ll call the police.”

First published in the Irish Times, Thursday 11th January 2006

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • ingram


    Ding Ding


  • nmc

    What’s the craic with the ding ding shit?

  • heck

    when I was a kid we use to chant SS-RUC. I guess it future it will be SF-RUC

  • ingram

    sssSH walls have ears mate.

    Do have access?

    Ding Ding


  • fair_deal

    “when I was a kid we use to chant SS-RUC”

    Ahhh one of the old shared working class cultural traditions 😉

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Ingrm, would you ever shove yer ding ding up yer hole. It’s a bit tedious at this stage.

  • Plum Duff


    ‘What’s the craic with the ding ding shit?’

    You might have noticed, from your own experience, that certain people, when they speak, use mannerisms such as, ‘You know’, ‘Actually’, ‘Basically’, etc, at the end of every sentence. It generally shows or points to a very poor level of communication. Or, if they’ve nothing of substance to say, they use these mannerisms to flannel.

    That’s the crack ‘with this “ding ding” shit.

  • Owen Lee Joe King

    Got to agree about the ding ding. Reminds me of Quasimodo, “The bells, the bells”. Maybe a similar traumatic incident? Or tinnitis perhaps?

  • Owen Lee Joe King

    Just in case someone never heard the story

    Most people are vaguely familar with the story of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Most, however have not heard the whole tale, now told herein.

    Not only did Quasimodo live in the Cathedral Notre Dame, he was responsible for ringing the big tower bell on the hour. Clearly, he had a special technique, because no one else could produce bell tones so pure, so beautiful as could Quasimodo. This unique skill provided job security for over forty years.

    By the end of this time, the City Fathers of Paris became worried about Quasimodo’s advancing age and they became even more worried about doing without the wonderful sound from Quasimodo’s bell. Pressure was exerted, and Quasimodo was induced to take on an apprentice and teach him everything he knew.

    With his misshapen head and face smiling down on his new apprentice, Quasimodo said that there was a very special technique he used to produce his bell tones. Mostly, it was a matter of timing and he should watch carefully. The two went up into the bell tower, and upon the hour, Quasimodo pulled the rope that moved the giant bell hanging from the ceiling. Then, with perfect timing, Quasimodo thrust his head between the bell clapper and the side of the bell. Modulated by his head between the clapper and bell, the note was very beautiful. That was Quasimodo’s secret.

    Having heard the marvelous effect, the apprentice felt that he was ready to try to ring the bell on the next hour. Quasimodo was skeptical, but reluctantly agreed to the trial. Exactly on the hour, the apprentice gave a great pull on the bell rope, then jumped to place his head between clapper and bell. He almost got it right, but his head was turned ninety degrees in the wrong direction and the clapper hit him squarely in the face.

    It killed him, of course. But, the bell did sound a note. Not only did the bell ring true, but the sound was beautiful. Not only was it beautiful, it was exquisite. Time stood still for a moment. People all over Paris stopped what they were doing, awed by the sound coming from the Cathedral. Quasimodo was good, but never before had such a magnificent sound graced their ears.

    The EMS people were called to treat the poor fellow, but it was too late. They could only haul the body away in the ambulance. “Who is this guy?” asked one of the ambulance attendants.

    “I don’t know his name,” said the other, “but his face sure rings a bell.”

    The ambulance drivers then delivered the body to storage. One of the morgue attendants asked, “Who is this guy?”

    The other answered, “I don’t know, but he’s a dead ringer for Quasimodo.”

    Dare I say it…………..

    Ding Ding.

  • lib2016

    More tired bitter personal attacks on Sinn Fein and it’s leadership. Have you guys ever thought of getting therapy, or even doing something productive like making some kind of positive contribution to the debate?

    And then you ask why Sinn Fein doubts unionist sincerity about powersharing. Ever heard of the phrase ‘being one’s own worst enemy’?

  • Quaysider

    I think what Lib2016 is saying here is: “Any more talk like that a month from now and we’ll call the police.”

    There really is many a true word spoken in jest.

    Any chance of blogging Newt’s piece from today’s Irish News about the Audit Office? There’s something I want to say on the subject.

  • Cynic

    “More tired bitter personal attacks on Sinn Fein and it’s leadership. ”

    …and your point is? Isn’t a lot of satire about lampooning our ‘leaders’? In this place, what else are they for?

    Don’t treat them too seriously. It will make you ill.