Bed and breakfast – and ‘Flashdance’ – with Daniel and Majella: what a feeling
Feast goes on the table and all restraint goes out the window when Ireland’s first couple arrive at the door
Each week Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip, much like episodes of Magnum PI or The A-Team, features a montage of our heroes’ future adventures. It’s tantalising stuff: Daniel flying by the camera on a speedboat. Daniel wedged in a horse-drawn carriage. Daniel and Majella commandeering tiny pedal cars like Noddy. Daniel accosted by pigs. Daniel aboard the International Space Station. Daniel and Ms Daniel (just another Daniel with a huge bow in his hair) fighting ghosts in a maze. Daniel condemning Russian foreign policy at the UN.
I may have made a few of these things up. The point is, the secret ingredient of this programme is Daniel O’Donnell doing things. If that thought alone fills you with delight, you will love Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip. Yes, forget the strange nuptials of those fly-by-night royal youngsters next door, dwell instead upon our own King of Country and his royal consort as they travel from B&B to B&B, a pilgrimage of Ireland’s most holy sites, growing in mystic power with each encounter.
As usual Daniel is in the passenger seat uttering delightful inanities (“Hello lorry,” he says to a lorry), perusing the Stasi-like files they have on the nation’s hostellers as a gently disgruntled Majella drives. Motoring past the sea in Ballybunion, they spot the words “Welcome Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip” etched beautifully in the sand. Yes, even Lord Poseidon himself pays tribute to their union.
“I don’t suppose there’s another Daniel and Majella,” says Daniel, who is fierce humble.
Then a dog walks by the sea’s calligraphic tribute. “I hope that dog doesn’t pee on us now,” adds Daniel, laying the humility on a bit thick.
Soon they arrive at the huge yellow B&B of James and Mary, who speaks in the third person like the Incredible Hulk, the Queen and Kerry people in general. “When [the guests] come in they want to speak to Mary,” says Mary. A kilted bagpiper stands in the driveway soundtracking their arrival. “He must be frozen,” says Daniel.
Keeping their shit together
In previous series, Daniel-obsessed B&B owners have lost their shit at this point, but Mary and James manage to safeguard theirs behind a few Oh-my-God-Daniels. Mary observes that Daniel looks slimmer in person and silently vows to start filling him with food.
They’re given a tour of the premises. Famous people have stayed here before, we’re told. They include the golfer Tom Watson, the singer Bressie and “an actor from Police Academy”. Daniel and Majella are lodged in the Tom Watson Suite and not, sadly, the An Actor from Police Academy Suite (a sort of pop-cultural iteration of the tomb of the nameless soldier).
“Tom Watson slept in that bed,” says Daniel with calm wonder, though, for all we know, he might have felt the same calm wonder saying, “A guy from Police Academy slept in that bed.” The man is inscrutable.
The hosts, as usual, have an itinerary of activities for Daniel and Majella to engage in. Soon Daniel and Majella are driving around in a little golf buggy and I clap with joy.
“Daniel is doing things!” I call to my wife.
“I don’t care,” she says, because she’s from Dublin and had the English stations growing up.
Daniel and Majella play golf in the rain. The musical selections are odd at this point. First there’s the guitar sting from the Jackass TV series, indicating, I think, that what we are about to see is hilarious altogether. Then there’s a melancholy piano suite by Satie, indicating, I think, that life is fleeting and we all must die.
“I wish Tom Watson could see us,” says Daniel wistfully as it starts to hail.
Bring Daniel his vittles
The next morning, Daniel and Majella sit in the diningroom gorging on the meats and pastries brought to them in tribute, while Mary and James observe and narrate for posterity and future science.
“He mightn’t take the Baileys at all,” says James, of the little bottle of Baileys that accompanies Daniel’s porridge. “He’s a non-drinker.”
Daniel puts the Baileys in the porridge. “He’s putting the Baileys in!” declares James, like he’s had an affirmative signal from the Man from Del Monte. “He’s having the Baileys!”
There’s certainly scope for a popular programme called simply Feeding Daniel. And I think I’d watch that programme, but I’d also clear my search history afterwards.
Before long Daniel and Majella are on the road again headed to another Kerry B&B, this time owned by Brenda and Michael. Brenda is also a fitness enthusiast. “They’ll be full of energy,” says Daniel, reading from the files compiled by his secret police.
“You’ll be full of energy,” mutters Majella, a little sarcastically.
I know. We all dream of having someone mutter under their breath at us the way Majella mutters under her breath at Daniel. That’s love, that is. Or, possibly, affectionate, slightly-irritated tolerance, which is arguably better in the long run (take note Harry and Meghan).
Before they arrive at Brenda and Michael’s they must first, for some reason, cross a rope bridge over a ravine.
“Daniel’s doing things again!” I call to my wife.
We are confronted with a gratuitous shot of Daniel’s cycling arse hovering over a bike seat. Danielographers will loop this footage and pore over it for generations
“I have no interest,” she says. She’s no Majella. I suspect she’d baulk at driving me around the country to be adored by B&B owners.
At Brenda and Michael’s house a crowd welcome them. “OMG!” says Majella.
“Oh my God, it’s them,” says Brenda, who seems slightly more flustered than Mary.
Before long she’s suggesting Daniel should run for the presidency, which I actually think would be an underachievement for someone like Daniel. Then she makes Daniel and Majella cycle exercise bikes to the Flashdance soundtrack because, I suppose, humans are all individuals and we have complex needs. “To look like a fox you must sweat like a pig,” is apparently Brenda’s mantra. Though, I feel obliged to point out, such grotesque Doctor Moreau-style sentiments are not endorsed by conventional science.
Daniel and Majella are soon, to quote Salt-N-Pepa, “working up a sweat” surrounded by cheering townsfolk, and we are confronted with a gratuitous shot of Daniel’s cycling arse hovering over a bike seat. Danielographers will loop this footage and pore over it for generations. I imagine if they played it for half an hour each week it would do even better than Feeding Daniel, which has gone into production since you first read about it a few paragraphs back. Daniel’s Arse could, in turn, replace the Angelus. It certainly haunts my dreams.
At one point, Brenda gives Daniel a towel. It has his own face on it in full colour. He doesn’t seem particularly consternated by this. Perhaps all the towels he sees have his own face on them. Perhaps, now that I think of it, all towels everywhere have his face on them and always have done. We’ll never know. I could go check the bathroom, but I feel a bit tired from watching Daniel’s arse cycling. My wife tells me I’m being ridiculous and that the onscreen towel is clearly official Daniel O’Donnell merchandise. But then, as we’ve already established, she’s from Dublin and had the English channels growing up.