Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dignity - thinking about faith

Tralalgar Square, January 26, 2010

There’s a man I meet walks up our street
He’s a worker for the council
Has been twenty years
And he takes no lip off nobody
And litter off the gutter
Puts it in a bag
And never thinks to mutter
And he packs his lunch in a Sunblest bag
The children call him Bogie
He never lets on
But I know ’cause he once told me
He let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
He’s gonna buy a dinghy
Gonna call her dignity

And I’ll sail her up the west coast
Through villages and towns
I’ll be on my holidays
They’ll be doing their rounds
They’ll ask me how I got her
I’ll say I saved my money
They’ll say isn’t she pretty
that ship called dignity

Reading on the toilet

A singular and solitary pleasure.

Yesterday's reading was the Spurs Everton program from October 27 (2-0) with Tommy Huddlestone on the cover. Inside a feature on Walter Tull an ex Tottenham player who it transpires was the first black outfield player in England. Looking at the photographs I couldn't help notice the resemblance between the two players.

Walter was the son of a Baijian father and an English mother but ended up in a London orphanage at the age of 10. His footballing skills resulted in him signing for Spurs in 1909 and he went on to play 18 games for the club, scoring 7 goals. He left Spurs to join Northampton Town and played 110 games for them before World War I called him into active service. His regiment, the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment was sent to France in November 1915 where they took part in the Battle of the Somme.

Following being invalided out of France, he undertook officer training and returned as a second Lieutenant in the 23rd (2nd Football) Battalion to fight again at the Somme, in the second Battle of the Somme. On March 25, 1918, in no-mans land at Pas de Calais, he was reported to have been shot in the head and he died instantly. His body was never recovered - the memorial at Arras and the cemetery wall at Fauborg Amiens bear his name. He served for close to the entire duration of the war, was mentioned in dispatches for gallantry and was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medal.

Tommy for his part is 22, likes Beyonce and playing Xbox, earns in excess of thirty five or forty grand a week and is often accusing of being a little bit too lazy on the pitch for his own good.

While it is clearly gratifying to see how far "minorities" have come in the English game over the last hundred years, it's sad to see how far the game itself has moved away from the core values which are, and always have been, its' lifeblood.

It's all gone wrong somewhere, me thinks.

Poetry - When you are Old by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

This is the story of the Hurricane

When we were in sixth year, Bob Dylan magnificently championed the cause of Ruben Carter, the coloured boxer, who was the subject of a miscarriage of justice in the US and was wrongly imprisoned. Carter was nicknamed the Hurricane and Dylan's song of the same name remains a classic.

What we didn't know at that time was that we were players in a drama of our own, one which bore frightening resemblances to Carter's case in the US.

Stephen Byrne came from the wrong side of the tracks - Dublin's Northside - but for whatever reason socialised with the elite from one of Dublin's poshest schools, Rockbrook College. Assuming their accent with ease, he mingled with them freely and soon was fully accepted by them - particularly as he had a motorbike (followed quickly by a car) and was a lot faster than the 46A on runs into the Trinity Buttery of a Saturday evenings. The friendship continued for a number of years until the privileged Southsiders decided enough was enough, and they made horrific plans for Easter 1979.

On that fateful weekend they made Byrne drive his own red Toyota Corolla car to Donegal and while there, set about victimising him in an appalling and unrelenting manner - difficult quiz questions, rigged draws to make him empty the toilet bucket, designated driver assignments at nighttime and the sleeping bag position furthest away from the fire. It went on and on.

The sadistic treatment ended on the Sunday afternoon when they coaxed Byrne into an ill-chosen boxing match with one of their own, streetfighter Hartnett. It was a mismatch of David and Goliath proportions. Hartnett, a cornerboy from Stillorgan, was an experienced boxer who had learnt his trade with the famous Bollard brothers, notorious in Dublin's gangland warfare of the fifties. The bout on the beach in Portsalon that afternoon lasted a mere four minutes with Hartnett landing two fierce piledrivers below the belt and rupturing Byrne's left testicle. Byrne fell onto the golden sands, his dreams destroyed.

The event was captured by Robert Capa the Magnum photographer (who first made his name on the beaches of Normandy covering frisbee competitions) and is reproduced below.

Byrne never recovered from the humiliation, retired from public life and became a recluse in the mountains of Wicklow.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I want you to go back, back in time .........

Donegal Easter 1979, give or take a year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Frisbee 4

At least I hope that's what they're doing. Gerry has since confirmed, and provided another photo of himself playing frisbee against the Germans (again) in Normandy. Spot the disc!

Must be for you

What a difference Judas made

Great to see Judas making such a difference on his return to the Arse last weekend against Stoke in the Cup. He was clearly the difference between the teams as Ricardo Fuller weighed in with a brace from centre-forward to dump the Gooners out of the competition.

The second positive outcome from the game was the French twat showing a touch of humour for the first time in his life. His triple substitution after 70 minutes was intended to avoid a replay and like most things he does, it worked to a tee.

And as this was going on another Judas emerged down at Bolton. Where would we be without the hatred, the glorious hatred?

And this is what it sounded like

Bring tea for the tillerman

Terrible event during the week - got an emergency call and when I arrived home, the family were on the lawn, some of them crying, and the fire brigade and emergency services were outside the front door.

"What's happened?"

"Dad, it's absolutely horrible, Mum was emptying one of the cupboards upstairs and she found your collection of LP's - there were ones by Neil Diamond and Kris Kristofferson - some of them were even double albums. We're distraught"

"Shit" I said as I sidled up to Jill and muttered "I can explain".

"How could you have done this to us?" she said unforgivingly.
"You see it was back in the seventies and I got into it first in Rich Hudson's house - he used to have this cool record player where the needle stayed put and the LP revolved around the needle......"

She stared me between the eyes and shouted "Are you not happy with the damage you've done? Do you take me for a fool?"

The stuff we listened to.
Alternatively titled "Strewn across the floor at WalthamTerrace"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Congrats to Leeds

Several texts this evening from Leeds fans basking in the glory of a 2-2 draw at the Lane. A classic encounter, as with most Tottenham cup games, and again Jermain Defoe misses a penalty. Harry needs to slap one on him, or at a minimum stand up to him.

Regardless it's good to see a strong Leeds team doing well - football needs them - and I wish them well in their primary objective of promotion. And as for the Cup, and those who texted me, I still don't hear any fat ladies singing. That'll come in ten days time.

Effective Communication and Presentation Skills

Remember all those management courses you went on which taught you presentation skills and coached you how to deal with the unexpected question? Well take a look at this guy who could knock the socks off the lot of us put together.

He's the London taximan who was told to wait in the lobby of BBC (presumably for his fare) but instead was mistaken to be the editor of an internet website News Wireless and led up to the studio for his "interview" on live TV. Star that he is, the boy just played on and blagged through the first few questions till Mrs Brains must have realised there was something wrong........ watch the way his tongue quivers on question 1!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Man from Snowy Mountain

The irreverent note below undermines Brusselsblue's significant achievement in making it onto the silver screen.

Heartiest congratulations and sorry we couldn't be over for the big evening. Hope all goes well and Tinseltown here we come!

The 4th Wally

In Clement's own words:


That's it! Finished, done, completed, totally fucked. We made a pig's arse of it.

It took about a year and a half to achieve the film adaptation of the play L'Aide-Mémoire written by Jean-Claude Carrière.

The baby is 80 minutes too long and rather lively.

The Premiere will take place at the Cinematek in Brussels the 21st of January. The Man from Luggala will be there.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I want you to go back, back in time ........

Gerry's communication problems started early - note the glazed look on his face as Marie tries to score the vital point in charades. Everyone else is either asleep or getting smashed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Listening to Half Man Half Biscuit's tales of the headless centre-forward in Subbuteo led me to ponder again the nuances of this brilliant, albeit substantially useless, pursuit.

It was the summer of 1971 I think (why did nothing happen in winter back then) and we eventually weaned Hartnett off Totopoly and into the replica world of professional football. A mini-league was started and my Subbuteo Match Record details a relatively easy 2-0 win away to Everton, at their previously impregnable fortress of Brewery Road. A 4-2 win against Michael McCarthy was followed by a surprising home draw against my Dad. I assume this one was a friendly and that I let him back into the game with a sloppy bit of contrived defending in the dying minutes. A mixture of paternal love and the pragmatism needed to get to Glenmalure Park the following Sunday.

Sadly the pristine fixture book recorded no more games and I therefore must have retired undefeated. With me off the scene, chances opened up for other players and it's evident from the picture below that Martin Buchan got the hang of it fairly quickly. Note the position of the right index finger.

Anyway to close this tribute to the miniature game, we turn to the underrated Derry boys, the Undertones and their song about childhood jealousy and hatred, understandable when you realise that "he flicked to kick and I didn't know".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Leeds beware....

Mike you have every reason to look furtively at the innocent sign. Watch for the low-flying Canaries as well.

Poetry - Do not go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Nobody wants to come fourth

Thanks to Everton for sparing our blushes at the weekend by beating City. We owe you one and who knows, maybe at Anfield on Wednesday evening. Pienaar really showing form and Donovan looks good.

Leeds showing worrying tendencies at present - no point in winning in the Cup at Old Trafford when a couple of weeks later you get gubbed 2-0 by Exeter City. One of only two teams with an x in their name.

Chelsea motor on relentlessly - Lampard and Anelka score two each on the day I take them out of my fantasy team. Pricks.

Hull keeper was our problem - virtuoso display. Bloody sad or what?

Every Man's Hero

We spent the seventies in secondary school, university and first jobs with little care for anything other than the forthcoming Saturday night. We hadn't a worry in the world and we were influenced by sport, music and popular culture in general. We found new icons and were able to express our individuality in the stars we chose. Some of us got it hopelessly wrong - Gerry's infatuation with Les McKeown of the Bay City Rollers bordering on the downright bizarre.

To the rest of us however there was one man who lorded it over the masses when it came to "cool" - a man who fought the system but the system won. As we remember McMurphy by watching this clip, look for the adoration in the Chief's eyes. Second only to Gerry watching the Rollers lead singer belting out Shang-a-Lang on Top of the Pops in June 1974. As Art Garfunkel crooned "I only have eyes for you".

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beautiful game

Repeat - "Came across this fabulous photograph in the Telegraph today (sincere apologies - I only buy it for the football) and it sums up the indefatigable attraction of the beautiful game."

The photograph is from the streets of Havana (giveaway - the car), and as the boys play their parents are meeting in a sidestreet bar or cafe to plot a political coup and to oust the incompetent and corrupt dictatorship that has run their country into the ground. Either that or else they're rolling cigars on the thighs of well proportioned, sallow-skinned red-lipped beauties who need to while away time before the next fandango begins.

Either way these people have got it right.

Oliver Twist December 2009

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many
reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to
which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently
common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and
in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not
trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible
consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all
events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head
of this chapter, and his faithful sidekick, Murphy.

Come on Spurs, Leeds are beatable

Remember this?

Do we take the iodine tablets now?

In assessing the Government's level of preparedness for the intense climatic conditions we are facing, I forgot entirely about the iodine tablets that they gave all of us a few years ago.

I wonder if we are close to the time that they'll tell us to use them. I'll run the country through the boom times, but don't come looking for me when times get bad.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Biffo fiddles while Ireland freezes

The country faces its' third potential catastrophe (financial meltdown; floods and now the big freeze) and true to their nature the Fianna Fail politicians go absent and leave the country stumbling along from one instance of human misery to the next. The only party member we definitively know as to his whereabouts, as the country's roads and public transport services grind to a halt, is the Minister for Transport, sunning himself in a golf resort in Malta. As they say, Noel you picked a good week as "the weather was shite back here".

It is time for the country to deal with this arrogance and incompetence and to get rid of this vile political party for once and for all. While the traditional Blueshirt opposition appear to offer little real alternative, it does nevertheless become a question of whether you get back into the car with the reckless driver who drove you off the side of the cliff because he had his cap over his eyes and therefore didn't see the bend coming. No right-minded individual who values honesty, integrity and diligence could ever vote for these people again.

It's time to make a radical change. Vote Labour - socialism cannot be this bad.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I want you to go back, back in time ..........

Note Gerry's Newcastle United shirt.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Eat your heart out, Tim McCurry

Over Christmas , I was sorting through digital photographs and came across the one below, which I took on the long hill climb between the lower and upper treasuries in Petra in 2007. I received a Christmas present from one of the kids of the National Geographic book which had Tim McCurry's famous photograph on the cover. I couldn't help notice a similarity.

To get permission to take the photograph, I gave the child's mother the only currency which had any meaning in the environs - food, in the form of an apple and a banana which I had carried for the journey. They were gratefully accepted.

I got several glossy books for Christmas.

Sorry Mike, party's over

FA Cup 4th round draw:

Spurs v Leeds
Preston v Chelsea
Everton v Notts Forest or Birmingham

Rolling back the years

And Mike was there!

Brilliant result for Leeds and the glory days are definitely on the way back. And wait till we hear slimebag Ferguson saying they weren't interested in winning the Cup.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea (2)

One of the reasons John O'Farrell decided to emigrate.

You going to Belvedere tonight?

I think this includes the orgasm bit at the end.... used to drive us wild........

Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the Sea

The Romance of the Cup

Ok, boys it all kicks off this weekend - the greatest competition in the world and a first step on the way to the hallowed turf at Offington Park, Sutton. The pizzas are on and it's just a short hop out on the bus along the coast road.

Before that the odd trip to Liverpool for the early rounds in the seventies.

We've all got out great memories from this competition, and some moments we'd like to forget (Port Vale in 1988) but all in all it is hard to argue against the romance of the Cup with its' ever-present opportunity for a slip-up by the giants at the hands of some hopeless downtrodden underdog like Everton. And then again you could also incur the wrath of the oligarchs by daring to score in the first minute.

This week it looks like relatively plain sailing for Spurs (the Posh at home), Chelsea (a repeat of the 1970 semi-final) and Everton (home to Carlisle. Spare a thought for Leeds however, drawn away to United - let's all get behind them this weekend and hope they can relive some of their former glories. Go for it Snoddie!

Leeds beat United 1-0 in the semi-final in 1970 courtesy of a Billy Bremner goals after two draws - in the round prior to that they went to the County Ground and this is how they got on: