If you have two women in your life, keep them apart.
I should know. Disaster struck me recently. Ever since then, I have treated businesswoman and fellow senator Mary White with a grudging respect. Mary is a formidable female, especially when she is scorned.
Last week when I returned to Leinster House after a holiday with Ruth Buchanan, the first lady in my life, I was greeted by the robust, but likeable, lady of Lir Chocolates fame. The second lady was brandishing a letter she had written to the media about the follies of Aer Lingus and its boss, Dermot Mannion, in ending the Shannon-Heathrow slots.
Mannion was in her sites. I felt a sudden surge of pity for Mrs Ann Mannion, Dermot’s wife. Ann may be about to receive the attentions of Senator White.
What an odd suggestion you may think. Well, there is a precedent: about a year ago when Lady Mary had made some soft sounds about Gerry Adams in the Seanad chamber, I shot to my feet and expressed the hope that Fianna Fáil would not nominate Mary for the Dublin South-East Dail seat. Five days later she was beaten for the nomination.
The following day I met Mary in the Leinster House Library. She was spitting blood. My presence prompted chocolate to come steaming out of her ears. I feared she would implode. I shuddered with fear as she filleted me for depriving her of the nomination for the Dáil. It was apparently all my fault.
I fled for the exit, but not before she had landed the cruellest blow of all: “And how Ruth Buchanan, that lovely RTE wife of yours, puts up with you no one can imagine, wait until I talk to her.”
Eyeing an escape route, I facetiously suggested that she ring the first lady in my life, even volunteering the Playback programme presenter’s private number in RTÉ.
And then I ran.
That evening Ruth Buchanan told me of an irate, female senator who had phoned to sympathise with her on her marital life sentence.
Mary had apparently noted the number, rang Ruth – whom she had never met – and denounced me as an unchivalrous cad. Ruth rose to the occasion, demanding equal sympathy for what she herself had been forced to suffer for years. The two lethal ladies (previously unacquainted) indulged themselves in a good old bitch about a common thorn in their sides. As Albert Reynolds would say: “That’s women for you.”
So this weekend Ann Mannion should leave her telephone off the hook. Mary White is on the warpath.