David Norris is not about to leave his funeral to chance or indeed to anyone else to orgainse. He has planned every detail, right down to the eulogy, which he will deliver himself — it’s already recorded. And being a high Anglican, mourners can expect pomp and ceremony.
“I have everything mapped out. I have my plot bought in Co Laois, a little place called Rosskelton that nobody will find,” says the poll-topping Dublin senator.
“I’ve also recorded the talk from the pulpit. It’s about my religious beliefs. I think a lot of people have lost their religion or they just don’t have any and maybe I can hand a bit of it on to some people. It starts off:
Hello again everybody. I don’t expect you thought you’d hear from me quite so soon. But here I am.
There will also be a recording of Paul Robison’s ‘Ballad of Joe Hill’ played. “A good old communist ballad, it will shock them all.”
He pauses to consider the conditions of the current lockdown:
That is providing I don’t die now in which case, there will be no funeral.
What shape are you in?
I come under three [at-risk] categories: I’m 75; I’ve had a liver transplant and I’m still taking immuno suppressant drugs; and I’m diabetic.
I was diagnosed withdiabetes about 18 months ago. You are supposed to have a level six blood sugar; I was 27. I don’t do anything by half measures.
[During lockdown] my exercise is shifting my bum around and crossing and uncrossing my legs and watching Fr Brown on the television. The other thing is that I have a huge number of staircases to climb to get to bed: that’s exercise.
I’ve a gym in the house which I haven’t used since the cancer [in 2014] but I’m thinking of starting back.
What are yourhealthiest eating habits?
I don’t have any healthy eating habits. But I do like fruit. With diabetes, I have to take an injection every Monday. It’s completely painless but it has the by-product of killing your appetite. I’ve lost four and a half stone in 18 months. I was 17 stone.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Reading detective novels, like the poet WB Yeats. I’m reading at the moment PD James. It’s rather good. I’m spacing it out so that I don’t finish it all at once. I’ve a library here in my house with 10,000 books. I’ve read almost of all them.
What would keep you awake at night?
Sleeplessness. I get fidgety feet. I find I need a cold bed to sleep in. Once the bed gets warmed up, I’m shot. But I don’t worry about things.
How do you relax?
I listen to a great variety of music. I love vintage jazz. I have a complete collection of the original Dixieland Jazz Band who were founded in 1916 and were the first group to use the word jazz. And a lot of news analysis programme, the only thing is it’s all about bloody Covid. And the only light entertainment is Trump.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I suppose James Joyce would be alright. Marlon Brando, George Michael — beautiful and a superb musician. Mary Robinson who is an old friend and Edith Piaf.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love the smell of lavender and also of freesias, heavenly.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I could do with a bit more hair these days. I wouldn’t want a slash of violent red hair. I’d like it to match my own existing locks.
What traits do you least like in others?
Selfishness and self-importance.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I don’t think there is very much for me to dislike. I’m quite honest with myself and if I see any nasty habits creeping in I root them out.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Laois. It’s where my family originated, my mother’s family. They were Fitzpatricks. They were the only FitzPatricks who were not Norman. We are Gaelic Irish. They were a very powerful family.
What quote inspires you the most and why?
A quote from Shakespeare: ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ I’m putting it on my tombstone.