Liam Farrell: Understanding and sympathetic? That's me

Sympathy is a virtue particularly associated with me, because I don't have any; not a shred, it's been hammered out of me by the sheer unfairness of life.

For example, a few weeks ago I saw Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews (the writers of Father Ted) walking down the street in Dublin. I went up behind them and said, loudly and theatrically: 'I hear you're a racist now, Father.'

Now, I ask you, is that funny or what? But instead of laughing with delight they reacted with outrage, hitting me on the head with a half-eaten hot dog before chasing me down the street. Probably just jealous, I reckon, but still unfair.

However, when the occasion demands, I can put on a good show of moist-eyed sympathy, and even my friends (if I had any) wouldn't know I was faking it like crazy.

We don't get many Hell's Angels in rural Ireland, but when I do I treat them with the utmost delicacy. One thing I learned on a road trip through the States, when I was a young buck, was to never upset a big man dressed in black leather; the bigger they come, the harder they hit.

'I'm losing my hair,' he said in a gruff but pleading manner, 'What are you gonna do about it?'

'And this worries you?' I said.

'Not me,' he said, 'but my bitch doesn't dig it.'

'And your, em, bitch's name is?'

'Kenneth,' he said.

'Indeed,' I said, looking out though the window at the tranquillity of rural Ireland; things sure have changed on Walton's Mountain, I thought.

I explained the various causes of hair loss, and suggested a few tests to ensure there was no significant underlying condition, because I am sometimes a good doctor. But I pointed out that it was probably an irreversible and permanent condition, and the best solution was to learn to live with it.

'Be proud,' I urged. 'Hold your head up, show off that magnificent dome, those formidable brows; wear it like a crown.'

'Kenneth says there's stuff you can get; Regaine, he called it,' he said.

'Indeed there is,' I replied. 'But while you can only go bald once, Regaine goes on forever.'

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