Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
The term “unsung hero” is an over-worked description which generally means that the player under review is actually shite, lacks flair and individuality and, in club terms, they can’t get rid of him. The intended description is usually hidden behind comments pointing out that he’s an ever-present; a tireless workhorse or a dedicated clubman. Bland, trite and often patronising journalism.
Occasionally however you meet a player for whom the phrase was genuinely intended, a player whom seldom attracts the limelight yet through his consistency, dedication and honesty serves as a real example to others. Kevin, or Zinedine, Kilbane epitomises this character.
In recent times, Kilbane has come in for a degree of criticism (abuse?) at Ireland games – he has become the easy target for fans who are frustrated – in many instances at poor selection by Trappatoni, or inadequate performance by the team all around. Kilbane has been chosen probably because of his age, the fact he's now with unattractive Huddersfield and most frequently because quite simply "familiarity breeds contempt".
Kilbane's record of 109 games for Ireland and 65 consecutive competitive games must have meant sacrifices or decisions that other players would not have made. Evidence last weekend where he played against Macedonia on Saturday evening, before travelling back to Huddersfield to sit on the bench for them on Sunday afternoon (without appearing). So many others would not have made this effort for a Championship game.
Over the years he has always made himself available for Ireland (under several managers) and on each time he's delivered an honest and often quality performance. Contrast that with the behaviour of Roy Kease or Stephen Ireland who see the national team as an option, a facility for them to inflate their egos and their carrying value. Such a marked contrast is difficult to find in any other sport.
So well done Zizou and keep going - there's more in the tank yet.
Footnote – as so often is the case, Kilbane’s attitude and approach has probably been shaped by his life outside the game, and the challenges which life can bring. He is a patron of Down’s Syndrome Association in the UK and his seven-year old daughter has the condition. He was featured prominently in the press and on the web this month in connection with the inaugural Premier League Down’s Syndrome Football Festival which was organized by a partnership between the Fulham FC Foundation, the Down’s Syndrome Association and the Tennis Foundation in the UK. Events like these serve to remind us all of our privileged position in life.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday afternoon saw me in a small little town they call Belfast watching the Blackrock Rowing team do battle with Royal Portora and Methody in the Lagan Head of the River annual race. Under the yellow cranes of Harland and Wolff, our boys did us proud and while unable to match the heroics of our rugby and cricket teams, we showed them that our little land-locked nation (or alternatively our well and truly locked nation) could compete with the best that the Crown could throw at us.
Powerful stuff - makes one proud to be Irish.
The murals on the walls of Balfour Avenue / Ascal Mheabha ask a different kind of question than they did 40 years ago and clearly the locals are now all bilingual. Progress indeed.
And returning to the Pav – if you want to sing about it – it’s “Super, super-Pav, super, super-Pav, super-Pavlychenko”
Laudable behaviour which brought back memories.
Pity this sense of fair play doesn't cross over into The Beautiful Game.
The irony of it all is that typically it is policed on match-day by bruisers, scoundrels and ruffians who spent the rest of the week bullying the weak and stealing money off their grannies.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Mise le meas should be in great form and his knowledge of all things Leeds will be tested as we come face-to-face with some diehards as, over lunch, we quaff the finest wines the region can produce. Time therefore to get familiar with a few of the ground rules:
- Don't mention Clough and don't look for his picture on the wall in the Legends Suite
- Pretend you're related to Johnny Giles
- If you can't understand what a local is saying to you just reply "Ecky thump, by gum" and offer to shake hands
- Remember it's Emmerdale - not Coronation Street
- Easy on the faryard animals noises and no sudden sheep sounds when near the gents
- A great topic for debate is the War of the Roses - it appears no-one knows who won it. The daft buggers.
- Don't mention Cantona either - a big no-no
- Please keep an eye on Mike if he wanders. Nostalgia, emotion and elation will be rampant and the locals might not take too lightly to the stuff we put up with.
An interesting footnote on Emmerdale from Wikipedia:
The farmyard filming techniques of Emmerdale Farm were originally modelled on the revolutionary soap-opera The Riordans, made by RTÉ, Ireland's broadcaster, from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s. Th e Riordans broke new ground for soap operas by being filmed largely out of doors (on a farm owned in the storyline by Tom and Mary Riordan) rather than the usual practice of British and American soap operas, of shooting almost completely in studios (where 'outdoor' scenes were sometimes filmed indoors). The Riordans pioneered farmyard location shooting with real farm animals and actors driving tractors.
In the 1960s and 1970s, outdoor filming of television programmes using OBUs (Outdoor Broadcast Units) was in its infancy due to the far higher costs involved and the reliance on things like the weather that were out of the control of the programme makers. The success of The Riordans showed that a soap opera could be filmed largely out of doors. Yorkshire Television sent people to The Riordans set in County Meath, Ireland to see the making of the programme at first hand.So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
So here we are, one month after the election which was going to change everything and we’re being dealt the same old shite again. Evidence of corrupt behaviour in Government leading us to remember (how could we have forgotten?) the good old Irish qualities we have come to know and hate over the last forty years - arrogant and abject denials of the truth made by individuals who believe they are more important than the system; a lack of transparency; an inability on the part of the State to act and most damningly a return to Civil War politics with the two protagonists merely having swopped sides in the Dail chambers. How snugly the boots seem to fit Michael Martin as sits atop his new moral high horse. Remember where all this came from, you Cork prick.The change which the country needs quite simply didn’t happen and we will now be left with the punitive IMF deal, a demoralised youth and a reputation so flawed globally that even the tourists don’t want to come because “it’s just not the same craic”. The opportunity to effect radical change was missed and so we lapse back into the old system of politics and governance. Yes, through the visibility of the press (the effective opposition) the corruption might gradually be cleaned up but you can rest assured that power will remain with an elite few, and their arrogance, egotism, and self-centred behaviour will ensure that, sooner or later, we piss any progress we make right back up against that wall.
Troubled by the matter of Lowry, I consulted with my learned friends. They too, or rather their profession, had a lot to answer for, intent as they had been on creating a legal system which had failed the people and served only to maximise the time and distance between guilt and punishment. Their insight on the issue was remarkable.
Firstly Brusselsblue, who did the smart thing in the eighties and didn’t come home – he now finishes his email with an “Erin go bragh”:
“Met him (Obrien) at the Leinster v Racing Metro game in Paris. He bought me and the Irish ambassador a drink. I may regret accepting it (which I did with relish). Why is it the Arabs in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya know when enough is enough - but the Irish people will take this on the chin without question. In the north riding they will be cheering him (Lowry) on "the boyo". I would crucify him and put his body in a lime bath. If he is innocent he can come back as an apparition and give some employment to the area” Chelski, who stayed in Ireland to ride the gravy train (plush mansion in leafy suburb – proudly an ex Rock boy – see below) pointed succinctly to the core of the problem:
“Shattering to think FG are just like FF. 6 (YES SIX) of the current cabinet were in government when O'Brien "won" the license. Cabinet responsibility my arse. The only good think is that it took a man, like me, schooled in Willow Park AND in Blackrock to find them out. Good one Mossie.” Mise le Meas (Venture Capitalist of the Year 2008) had another angle on O’Brien, and also got back to the core issue of football:
“Resident in Malta me arse – saved CGT on the sale of his shares in Esat – pays some of Trappatoni’s salary – value of his Caribbean interests > €1 billion. Declan Ganley, Lochlann Quinn … all the under bidders are coming – should keep the Courts busy” All valid points and well made. But let’s face it - the truth is simple, and frightening. We’re not fit to rule ourselves and we’re best suited to shouting in the kitchen at parties, or, full of gargle, dozing off in the back row at midnight Mass. But don’t, please don’t ask us to behave properly, to act selflessly, or to show strong morals and dignity because that's for the fuckin' birds.
Maybe when the Queen visits in May, we can ask her to stay and we can get back to the old days.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I have taken a few poetic liberties in my prayer for Japan.
The Ides of March,
Hiroshige on the wall,
We watch the tv.
Helpless to assist,
We watch updates on Sky,
And turn to our God.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
This self-belief is based on the fact that we have got this far already, and also by the fact that it a certainty that we won't come up against the likes of Wigan or Stoke in the remaining rounds. Because while Spurs will generally get turned over by hard-working niggly teams like these, we seem to have a growing ability to take on the aristocrats from Europe, and give them a bit of a seeing-to. Playing against quality teams and coaches seem to motivate 'Arry tactically and and the players appear to be eventually getting what they wanted all along - a place on the big stage.
Ok, there's no point in getting carried away with dealing with both the Milan teams (arguably both over the top) but I reckon we could give the great Barce a run for their money if we get them over two legs. Wenger and Arsenal's whinging about the sending-off of Van Persie shields the fact that they were battered comprehensively and let's face it what can you expect when you go out to the Nou Camp and try to defend a slender lead. You certainly won't see the Yids doing that and I'd love to see Lennon and Bale running at the Barce full-backs (do they have any?) in the manner they've done all season.
So bring on the draw and let's see what comes out. To use the quote attributed to Jack Nicklaus:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The rioter in Bangkok who is shooting the catapult is wearing a t-shirt from the Dunboyne Castle Arms Hotel in Co Meath. Not suprising that's he's a bit annoyed as Dunboyne is in Noel Dempsey territory.
Ok, now I’m worried.
There we were, in desperate need of a new government (to which I concurred) and everyone is telling don’t vote for Labour because of their taxation threats and to plump for the safe option in Fine Gael. So, swayed to an extent by their arguments, I followed through and gave the previously unknown Mary Mitchell O’Connor my fourth preference. I can still hear all the better-informed political animals in the constituency telling me “Oh, actually she’s very good”.
So what does the bold Mary do on her first day in Dail but drive her Mini Micra (or whatever it was), down the pedestrian steps of Dail Eireann in a scene reminiscent of the Italian Job - in front of the watching press cortege. Now she may look a bit like Rosemary Smith, but this is definitely taking the piss.
I relax, comfortable that the country is in safe hands. I do hope Inda leaves her on the back benches – they should be a bit of a challenge to her climbing skills – and at least she’ll be fully occupied for a first few Dail sessions. And this of course on a day when the EU announce that the rating system of applying lower motor premiums to women is wrong.
What a country.