Thursday, October 25, 2012

Poetry - Digging by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging.

I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests. 
I'll dig with it.

A sad lamenatation of times past and skills lost, knitting by the fire, embroidery; hmmering nails, darning clothes; and mending tyres.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Porn on the 4th of July

The day after Brusselsblue’s birthday – October 17 – witnessed the passing of two peripheral bit-players from the large cast of players who had a trivial part in my theatre of life.

Milija Aleksic, goalkeeper for the 1981 Spurs team which won the FA Cup, passed away in South Africa at the age of 61. At Saturday’s match at the Lane he was remembered at half-time and Tony Galvin very nearly scored a major own-goal in stating that he was saddened by the news of the first member of the 81 team to pass away and hope there wouldn’t be ”too many more” – he rescued himself by adding the word “soon” at the end of the sentence. Everyone in the crowd, wanting to laugh but honouring the sombre mood, smiled.

On the same day Sylvia Kristel, who had a completely different set of skills to Milija, passed away in the Netherlands at the age of 60.

Famed for her lead role in the four Emmanuelle movies, in the early seventies she unobtrusively represented the alternative to the Catholic upbringing we had experienced in Ireland over the previous two decades. DH Lawrence and Lady Chatterley for the sixties generation: Sylvia Kristel and Emmanuelle for those of us coping with flagrant and open sexuality in the seventies. And coping with difficulty – a sneaked look at the advertising posters on Middle Abbey Street and walk on, Mad Mary awaiting on O’Connell Street. God be with the days. 

Worrying that they both passed away in their (very) early sixties, isn’t it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Faroe Islands v Ireland Oct 16, 2012

Following Euro 2012 there was a strong call (which included my vote) to get rid of Trappatoni.  He was stubborn, wouldn't bring new blood in and was unwilling to change tactics.

So he goes and changes, brings in some  of the younger players, changes the formation and hey presto(n north end) we lose 6-1 to Germany in our worst home defeat since 1931.  Coming on top of a narrow and undeserved victory in Kazakhstan a month ago courtesy of two last minute goals.

While I still want him to go, with John Delaney, I find the increasing vitriol against him inappropriate and I fully accept his argument that the players are not at his disposal as they were in the old days.  Bringing in Coleman, Fahey, and Robbie Brady hardly upped our spirits as we sat in our €60 seats to watch Germany take us apart.  At least it was €0 Angela Merkel wasn't going to get paid back.

Contrast the Irish team on Friday with the team which faced France at Lansdowne in 1981 as part of the countdown to the Spain World Cup.

Weak spot - maybe Gerry Peyton in goals?  Mick Martin in midfield?

Certainly very different quality from the eleven that started on Friday.

So let's be rational in our criticism of the Italian - he is not wrong in stating that it very nearly became a positive night for us, with Austria dropping points in Kazakhstan and Sweden only getting by against the Faroes by the skin of their teeth.

A stronger team tonight - slightly - but let's get the job done and then lets' get the most powerful man in Irish soccer - Denis O'Brien - to make the decision we all want.

Oh Trappatoni, used to be Irish,
but he's Italian now.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wrap the EU flag around me, boys

Watching Rory McIlroy eagerly grab and drape the EU flag around him a few weeks ago at the Ryder Cup only sought to heighten the controversy surrounding his reluctance to do the same with the Irish flag after winning the US Open in 2011.

While his decision to lean towards representing Great Britain rather than Ireland in the 2016 Olympics is his own decision and needs to be respected, his reluctance to “hold” or “be in contact” with a flag which has such significance and relevance to a large part of his family, his community and his country, is at the mildest baffling, and at the most extreme downright insulting.

It is not as though McIlroy does not understand the significance of his decisions – he was brought up a Catholic in a protestant area of Hollywood and he lost his uncle, also a Catholic, murdered by the UVF in 1972 as part of the backlash against minorities who had inadvertently crossed the divide by living in the strongholds of the other religion group.

A simple comparison could be made with the boxer Wayne McCullough, a Protestant from the staunchly loyalist Shankill Road area of Belfast who was equally as proud to carry the Tricolour at the 1988 Olympics Opening Ceremony (where he represented Ireland) as he was when carrying the Northern Ireland flag at the Commonwealth Games two years later. At a time when political feelings were more acute, McCullough had the sense to understand the issues and sensitivities involved and to do the right thing.

The cynics might seek to argue McCullough, a mere streetside boxer, did not understand the import of his actions but the flip-side to this is that McElroy, the educated golfer, did.

Gareth Bale 2 Charlie Adam 1

Great to see Wales beating Scotland (Charlie Adam et al) on Friday night - particularly with the majesty of Gareth Bale's second goal.

Bale and Adam have "previous" - notably on two occasions when Adam the supposed hardman tried to end Bale's career simply because he's too good for the Scottish journneyman.

For Blackpool at the Lane:

and then for Liverpool in a pre-season friendly (yes a friendly) in the US.:

The winning Bale goal on Friday was so appropriate - fouled cynically by Adam, he received the ball from the free-kick and drilled the ball  from 25 yards past the Scottish keeper as Adam desperately tried to keep up and lunged at him just as he struck the ball.  Superb.

Now we may have developed a concern over some of Bale's antics on occasions recently, when his behaviour is compared with that of Adam, there's only one outcome.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Progress report - everyone is on the credit list so far

The 1st of October and the serious stuff is starting. We are now on the run-in.

Top marks to David Moyes and the Everton boys – it eventually looks as though you are going to mount a serious challenge for a Champions League / Top 6 spot (delete one as appropriate). Jelavic looks to have been a quality buy and the air of confidence floating around Goodison may be self-fulfilling. Maybe their early exit from the League Cup will actually work in their favour.

AVB at Spurs has moved from being the unwanted man to the enigma, with very few of us knowing what he is truly capable of. A stunning win at Old Trafford answers some of the critics but there remain serious doubts as to his style of play and his ability to get the players to execute on it. A few shrewd buys (Dembele and Vertonghen catch the eye) have masked the departure of Modric well.

Chelsea move on with monotonous intent. And why not – aren’t they Champions of Europe? Saturday’s win at Goonerland was the first real challenge they have had nevertheless and it remains to be seen how they fare when the going gets tougher. October 20 at the Lane should be interesting. Despite any doubts we may have, the destiny of the League must surely be a matter between themselves and City.

Leeds – great win over Everton and it does not appear as though they’re letting the Cup run (?) distract them from the bread and butter of the Championship. Silly results like losing at home to Hull need to be eradicated but Warnock still appears to have the nous to get them back up to the top level. It’s been such a long time.

Let's ramp it up, team.