The Informer


 By Malachy McCourt




The extraordinary Malachy McCourt, actor, writer, politician and proprietor of Malachy’s, a saloon on Third Avenue that became a legend in its time.




By Malachy McCourt


            James Joyce wrote, “In the spirit of Irish fun they betrayed their leaders one by one” and George Bernard Shaw chimed in with, “If you put an Irish man on a spit to roast him you will encounter no difficulty in finding another Irish man to baste him.”  The British with the blessing of Nicholas Breakspeare aka Pope Adrian iv invaded Ireland on the pretext of restoring the country to the faith as founded by that other British invader Patrick. Consequently many Irish including myself have a somewhat violent reaction when we chance upon traitorous informing Irish men many of whom see nothing wrong in dropping decency and becoming Conservative in America. The British when they occupy a country impose the illusion of superiority in all things culture, behaviour language, loyalty, be it India, Ireland, Africa, Persia et al and they elevate people like Gunga Din to secular sainthood. I am making a tenuous connection here but the actor who played this anorexic traitor has a connection to this piece. I once had a saloon called Malachy's on  Third Avenue. It was a lively place blessed by the presence of lovely young things from the nearby Barbizon Hotel for Women plus horny young actors from the UK not to mention correspondents from all over the place like Chris Dodd and Tony Delano. Malachy’s was also the unofficial headquarters of the Irish delegation to the United Nations which was headed at that time by Freddie Boland and included Conor Cruise O'Brien and his then lover Maura McEntee. Freddie Boland became famous for trying to gavel Nikita Khrushchev to order while Nicky used his shoe to respond to Freddie's gavelling. I was introduced to a Russian lad named Vladimir Bogachev, the UN reporter for TASS. The friend who introduced us, Sam Jaffe, was a quietly humorous lad and as far as I recall had worked for CBS and NBC as a correspondent in Moscow among other places.


There was as it is said, drink taken and the memory is a bit befogged by same but there was laughter, wit and loud renditions of the Irish songs and Bogachev was quite good at getting down on his haunches and kicking his limbs in that well-known Russian danger to life and limb they call a dance. Sometimes we stayed at Malachy’s and raised the roof. There are other times we explored other venues and wherever we went there was no doubt we were where we were. Loud, irreverent, merry and energetic. One night we decided to go to a party in New Jersey so the car had to be hired. Our party consisted of myself Sam Jaffe,Vladimir  plus Harold, a Brit with a bad leg that like the Queen couldn't bend and Ed was totally sightless. Off we went to New Jersey and returned safely despite my lunatic intake of liquor. A few mornings after that event the doorbell rang which was answered by my then wife. Standing there were a couple of respectable looking men sporting broad brim hats and flashing badges. They identified themselves as FBI and said they would like to talk to me. Linda showed them in and summoned me from whatever dreamland I occupied at that moment. After a bit of chitchat during which they kept their hats they got down to the business at hand. What is the nature of your relationship to Mister Vladimir Bogachev?. I said I didn't want to be rude but what business was it of theirs who my friends were. They replied that Bogachev was a Soviet intelligence agent here to gather information beneficial to the Soviet Union. So again why is he friendly with you? And while we're at it tell us about those people who went with you to New Jersey a few nights ago. They knew Bogachev and they knew me and they knew Sam Jaffe but they didn't know Harold with the unbending leg and they didn't know the blind man Ed. Who was he said one. I said he was our driver. The questioner was about to write that down when he realised what I had said. He slammed his pen down glared at me and informed me that this was no joke and I'd better answer properly else they would take steps to deport me. I at once informed him quote I was born here I am an American citizen and you can't deport me un quote. That ended the interview.


        My last comment of them was that Malachy was famous for its martinis and I think the Soviets wanted this secret recipe. They were not amused. Some time later I secured my file under the Freedom of Information Act. One part of which is said that despite my long hair, flowing red beard, obvious Bohemian lifestyle, I displayed no outward signs of homosexuality. My file had details of parties and visits to pubs and by a series of eliminations I figure the person present at all these was Sam Jaffe who introduced me to Bogachev in the first place. Sam was the nephew of the actor Sam Jaffe who acted the Indian traitor Gunga Din and I wondered, can theatrical traitors pass on their character defects to real life descendants. Bogachev returned to the Soviet Union and after some years I tried to contact Sam Jaffe but he was not friendly. I read he had died and the Times reported that he was a supplier of information to the CIA and the FBI. I don't know to this day why reporting the activities of a saloon keeper to the FBI was part of  keeping America safe and secure. I don't know what happened to Bogachev after he returned to Moscow but I do know, though not within the realm of total recall, a good time was had by the capitalists, the Communists and even some brain-damaged conservatives. May they all including the CIA and FBI rest in peace.


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