John Gibson: Oozed that Irish charm, so she did

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The passing of Maeve Binchy has got me digging deep into the Gibcress File, to our meet in Edinburgh and that wasn’t yesterday. That was when she was here touting her second novel, Echoes, of some 500 pages. The consistently readable writer.

“Once you sell to a TV or film company,” she told me, “you’ve no control, of course, but I’m happy with the assurances I’ve had from London Weekend. They’re not going to have the screenplay littered with ‘tobesures’ and ‘begorrahs’. “And they they’re going to have Irish actors play the Irish in my story and the British in Britain.’’

So Maeve, then, a long way from her final birthday at 72, was a happy comparative lassie, a staff journalist with The Irish Times, based in London.

She took a history degree in her native Dublin. She particularly enjoyed writing on childhood. “I usually start them off at ten or 12 and finish them off, agewise, at 30.” She confessed: “Before the novels I’d only written short stories that nobody bought. I’d go into bookshops and discreetly remove them from obscurity in some dark corner and place them out front among the best-sellers.”

A former schoolteacher, she oozed Irish charm. Her fans were loyal and are genuinely mourning her passing. She was, as they’d expect, a warm interviewee who could put the interviewer at ease.

Afterwords . .

. . . Of course you knew. Got to me too late to send a get well card or a food parcel. Dalkeith-born Fish, former singer with rock stars Marillion, was struck down with Dupuytren’s syndrome.