A Book at Bert-time

The Revenue Commissioners have granted tax-exempt status to the proceeds of sales of Bertie Ahern’s autobiography, on the grounds that it has “cultural or artistic merit”.

They don’t usually grant this to books that are factual, or they’d have to give it to school textbooks, the telephone directory and the Dublin Bus Timetable (ok, not that one). Therefore they obviously reckon that Bertie’s book is a work of fiction.

And the news that you can write fiction about Bertie and get tax-free dosh for it has attracted the attention of other authors, as these forthcoming publications show….

The Great Bertsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is the tale of a man of unexplained wealth who spends much of his time gazing at a light at the end of a dock, when he isn’t giving evidence in one. The story ends tragically when Bertsby is attacked in Tara Street Baths by a deranged man, or “loolah”, as he calls him.

De Damned United, by Nick Hornsby. The hilarious tale of Bertie’s brief reign as manager of Manchester United, where he turned them from being the envy of Europe (they were known as the Celtic Tigers, much to the annoyance of Celtic) into a second-division laughing stock. This was mainly due to his incomprehensible instructions to his players, and to his insistence on finding room for Ray Burke in his team. Mr Hornsby is working on another book, The Really Damned United, which tells of what happened next, when Bertie’s assistant Brian Cowen took over instead. As the team sank lower and lower he declares himself happy with their situation (“we are where we are”), blames everything on the rest of the world (“sure Real Madrid are shite too”) and then sells all his players off cheaply to new club Nama Academicals during the January transfer window.

The Secret Life of Bertie Mitty, by James Thurber. The story of a daydreamer who imagines himself as a great statesman, a socialist, a man of modest needs, a sports journalist, just an ordinary Joe. Supposedly funny, but actually just sad.

Celia Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. This tells the story of young Celia and her love for the powerful and mysterious Mr Ahern. Since he is already married in his heart to wealth, popularity and Drumcondra  the romance is doomed from the start, and all poor Celia gets out of it is the odd cheap house. She finally ends the relationship with the by now immortal line “Reader, I nutted him”.

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