Obese alcoholics, pill popping geriatric crowd surfers and astral planing pensioners. In any civilised society these people would be in care, on medication or locked up. But this is Ireland where they are saluted, celebrated and cherished as 'The Ascendancy'.....our Aristocracy.
The Anglo Irish Ascendancy were Medieval immigrant gangsters who for centuries led the life of Riley in the wild pastures of Ireland. But in 'Celtic Tiger Ireland.com' their numbers have dwindled to a few hundred, with even fewer living in the crumbling ramshackle palaces that great great granddaddy built.
For nearly 1,000 years the Anglos were centre stage running the show, now sidelined by flash cash arrivistes, what sort of life do they lead, and who the hell do these fossils think they are. Anglo or Irish, Briton or Celt, Crown or Harp?
Sir John Leslie at 96 years of age raves at local nightclubs. His early years in the Brigade of Guards bestowing on him a carriage that serves him well in the mosh pit. In County Carlow, Olivia Durdin- Robertson holds initiation ceremonies at the Temple of Isis. Conveniently it's situated in the basement of her turreted family home, Huntinton Castle. Meanwhile Mark Bence Jones author and 'Anglo' expert is shuffling on gouty feet around Glenville, his north Cork mansion. Daughter Silvia checks the slipping slates and local developers who have designs, housing estate designs that is on the family home. Over in County Sligo, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth paces his family home of Lissadell for the last time. The removal men are in, along with the auctioneers, to bring to an end four hundred years of his family history.
Filmed over a three year period, 'The Raj in the Rain' with total and exclusive access pries in depth into the lives of the 'Anglos' and slowly but forcefully cracks open their carefully maintained facade of self-deprecating eccentricity and fey weirdness.
We get almost 'Cribs' like tours of the places they call home. Dusty curtains are pulled back, rare moth-eaten carpets are lifted to reveal ancient newspapers and drawers jemmied open, the contents inspected close up by our HD lens. 'The Raj in the Rain' also steps outside the estate walls and follows our characters on their forays to a very strange place.. 21st century Ireland.
Some have adapted to its demands, others fall over. All are captured on tape. Each of our specimens have a special event to attend. Sir John's " raver competion", Olivia's solstice baptism and a first class Bence Jones bust up with 'strangers' who have moved into the the west wing
We also interview 'the locals' who have disparate views of their one-time tormentors. Some still see them as 'blow ins', lick-lipping the time when 'The Big House' is sold and the land 'our land' developed with traditional Irish bungalows. Then there are those who see the Anglos as lost repositories of high-end culture and class smothered elsewhere in Ireland by newfound prosperity.
And our main characters don't get off the hook with just a house tour. They are subjected to an intensive in-depth and sometimes off camera interview which allows them to tell their story and muse what might have been and indeed what might be, flight or fight.
'The Raj in the Rain' is a witty, affectionate, candid and frankly bizarre portrait of a very lost tribe.
If the Anglo Irish are a disappearing race then The Raj in the Rain is a last full saturation colour family portrait.