John Gibson: Daniel and I break bread, true!

On song: Daniel and a pal

On song: Daniel and a pal

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It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve vowed not to utter a bad word about Daniel O’Donnell. The good Lord’s on his side and, after all, Daniel walked in His shadow, after all.

Chances are you caught Daniel’s close encounter with fawning Fern Britton (on the Sabbath, appropriately enough) and, I have to say, it was a titanic struggle to keep my bacon and eggs and black pudding down.

I say again. though, an ideal day to recall my one-to-one with Daniel in Giuliano’s ristorante opposite the Playhouse, and after digging deep into the Gibpress File I’m salvaging fragments of our epic conversation. My Christmas Eve present to you.

He had been at pains to reveal to me that his Auntie Mary, his godmother, would be in the audience at a forthcoming Usher Hall concert. The Capital means a lot to him. He had 12 first cousins in Edinburgh.

We made good tablemates in Giuliano’s. Main course in scampi provencale, he told me: “I’ve got the feeling of belonging because when I’m back in Kincasslagh in Donegal, place of my birth, I’m always at my mother’s. She’d soon sort you out if she heard what you’ve written about me.”

When you talk to Daniel somehow you feel a bit closer to God. ‘‘I’ve been very lucky and I thank Him for everything. That’s where it all came from in the first place.

So I could call him a devout Catholic? “Well, I try, I don’t know what’s a good Catholic but I do try my best. It’s hard to be good. Yes, I’m a churchgoer. I’m there every week. And yes, I pray. Every day. In the evening.’’

I’d had a glass or three. No need for fellow diners to ring a Sunday newspaper and tell them they’d just seen Daniel O’Donnell swigging gin and tonic. It was plain Edinburgh tapwater.