You would have thought that, by now, Chris DeBurgh would have realised he was an acquired taste, and accepted that he's one of those people who you either can't stand, or who you go and see because you really feel as if you should do something with your evenings and you can't sit drinking all night by yourself, can you?
Apparently not, though, as he's taken time out of his busy schedule to respond to a bad review the Irish Times gave him. I say "bad"; I mean "fair", of course.
Dear Mr Crawley,
I rarely read reviews, but as yours was sitting on my kitchen table, and after three sold-out shows in the Gaiety Theatre, I thought I should have a look at it; after all, receiving a favourable review in The Irish Times is about as likely as . . . well, receiving a favourable review in The Irish Times!!
Two exclamation marks? What are you, Chris? Twelve?
Still, given that you don't expect to get a good review from the paper, you'll probably chalk it up to experience, right?
Oh, no. Apparently not:
I was not disappointed. How the fond memories came flooding back, more than 30 years of them; you must have a Lexicon of Handy Insults, because you managed to use many of the same ones that have been used so many times before, and still they make me smile at their continued lack of imagination. “Small man . . . shudder . . . warbly tenor . . . mawkish balladeer . . . cringe factor . . . squeaky clean . . . snigger . . . cheesy” etc – yes, they were all there, as used by many of your colleagues before, such as Joe Breen (who, I note, has been put out to pasture in the wine section, and I am assured by friends in the wine trade that he knows as much about wine as he did about music – precious little. I wonder what they have in mind for you in your dotage? Searing critiques of primary school Christmas plays perhaps, or judging knife-sharpening competitions in Sligo?).
Interestingly, "small man" is the first thought that occurs when reading this letter. And "shudder", "warbly", "cringe factor" and "snigger" all fit, too.
Apparently, while Breen has gone off to judge knife competitions, Crawley isn't even qualified to be doing music reviews because, erm, he knows about something else as well:
Being a theatre critic and not a music critic, you must have strayed into the Gaiety by mistake last Monday night, possibly looking for the rear entrance to Neary’s pub, but you certainly arrived with the word “prejudice” burned into your furrowed brow.
When Chris DeBurgh starts having a pop at your furrowed brow, you must be able to grow potatoes in yours.
I'm not entirely sure why being a theatre critic would make it impossible for you to review music - it's not like you're sending a gardening correspondent for a report on the chess or anything. It's pop music, Chris. You don't need qualifications to review music.
Chris, though, has moved on to how loved he was:
How it must have galled you to hear the rapturous welcome I received at the start of the show; how you must have writhed at every standing ovation; how you must have cringed at every call of “Chris, we love you”; how you must have felt isolated as the audience rose to their feet as one, singing, dancing and shouting out for more; how you must have growled to yourself as you left, surrounded by so many happy people, to make your curmudgeonly way to the safety of the street outside.
Yeah, how it must have upset you to hear so many lithe teenages lovelies offering to have sex with Chris, right? How it must have stung to watch Chris being offered the throne of the nation. How your very being must wriggled like tapioca caught in the au pair's cleavage to see half a million people spontaneously explode with love, their remains reforming into a giant heart-shaped mosaic of a winking Chris DeBurgh.
Or perhaps Peter Crawley missed all those things happening. Maybe he went to the bar.
It's just funny that - with a room so full of love and positivity, DeBurgh is obsessed with apparently the only man who didn't seem that bothered.
You really should look up the word “entertainment” again, you might be surprised to see that it is all about people having a GOOD TIME!!
You might like to check a book about English usage and see if they advise double exclamation marks for anything other than chess reports.
Your churlish review is an insult to all those who enjoyed their night out, and in these days of collapsing newspaper sales and an entire new generation on the way who will get their information online, you may be looking for another job sooner rather than later.
Really? People would not buy a newspaper because someone says they like something different to that which they enjoy? No wonder you use so many exclamation marks, it sounds like your audience is comprised entirely of fifteen year-olds.
Your pals in the pub must have loved your review, but it seems that you are universally loathed in the theatre world. A leading impresario has described you as “puffed up with his own self-importance”, and a much-loved and successful actress refers to you as “that loathsome little turd”. Great accolades, to be sure.
Now, let me get this straight: it's wrong and unfair to review someone's music and call them "cheesey" or a "small man", but it's perfectly fine to describe someone's character as "puffed-up" or as a "loathsome little turd". That seems fair.
And what of you and your future ambitions? Will you continue to be an occasional critic in a country with the population of Greater Manchester, or are you, like so many of your colleagues, about to write a book/play/film script/biography? If so, I would be delighted to attend the opening/launch/ premiere.
Is DeBurgh picking on Ireland for being under-populated?
. To have gone to the Gaiety with your mind made up is unprofessional of course, but to totally ignore what actually happened and launch a personal attack is so transparent that any reader can see that it was pointless even writing it, as you were the only person who attended the show that night who didn’t ACTUALLY WANT TO BE THERE!!
If the attack was so transparent, then why does Chris feel the need to respond at such vitriolic length?
As I have always had a very positive attitude towards life, I have sympathy for your position, as it must be so poisonous to have to lurk in the shadows, riffling through the garbage bins of despair and avoiding those who think that you are an irrelevance, an irritation to be ignored and laughed about.
Yeah, how dare you simultaneously ignore and avoid people while going through their garbage and laughing at them as you ignore them. How cruel must you be to twist the rules of physics and logic simply to shrug your shoulders at a concert?
I would be very happy to meet with you and pursue these ideas further, but I suspect that you, like so many others of your kind, would lack the courage, like a dog that snarls and barks from a distance yet cowers and runs away at the first sight of reaction. Anyway, the offer is there.
Yeah, Peter Crawley - you're happy to tell people you didn't think a concert was much cop, but if someone said 'lets meet so I can call you a turd' you wouldn't want to meet up with them, would you?
Finally, whatever happens in your career, let me wish you a long and happy life, all the best,
Chris de Burgh
Just because you've compared someone to a shit, there's no need to impolite.
Just as Chris was about to head off down to the post office, he had another thought:
PS We were wondering by way of explanation and as you seem to portray yourself as a bitter and unfulfilled man, were you much teased by your school chums in the schoolyard and called “Creepy Crawley”? I think we should be told!
Notice how DeBurgh doesn't actually want to look like he was resorting to playground insults, and so instead dressed it up as a psychological query. I wonder if Chris DeBurgh (note to self - add some half-assed stuff about potty training and separation anxiety here before publishing) explains why he releases such god awful records.
Chris: People seem to like what you do enough to pay you to keep doing it. Why would you even bother to make yourself seem like a touchy idiot by writing this, much less by sending it for publication? Do you no longer have anybody around who can take you to one side and say "behaviour like this makes you look more like the subject of the review than less"?