Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Munster's inevitable defeat

Well, it was, wasn't it?
Too depressed I was to write about it for the last 3 days or more. I do think that I am a hex on games that I really want to be won. Any time I went to a Waterford hurling match in my increasingly distant youth, my presence seemed to ensure that defeat was inevitable. And so it was with Munster last Saturday. I can't explain exactly how, but the tickets were acquired and into my car I leapt with joy in my heart and a Munster beanie on my head and off with me like the wind and me listening to Manu Chao on the CD player as my German-engineered automobile instinctively sniffed its way along the road like a super-fast sleek metal bloodhound all the way to Thomond Park.

It's difficult to get up in the morning sometimes, even though you know you should; even though, in fact, you know that you must or the consequences will be very very difficult to live with. And yet, that head of yours won't get up off the pillow. Why? you ask yourself as you lie there waiting for your elusively fluid notional batteries to recharge. And then you realise that they're not going to recharge, as the minutes seem to tick away a little bit faster and you realise that you must be a slow thinker because that last fleeting thought took a whole 10 minutes more off the time that waits for no man (along with tide). It was ten minutes that you couldn't afford and then , and then.. you get up because you have to, even though the body - the ruler of your life in more ways than one - has expressly forbid you not to. You get up because you have to. You have to get up but you're not ready because the motivation, the spark, the passion ... they're all absent this morning. So you get up and you'll do your best today, but it won't be enough to be brilliant so you'd better hope that life doesn't throw too many challenges today because you won't be able to deal with them when they come.

Munster last Saturday were that man from the last paragraph. They were going into a match that they didn't need to win against a very strong team that really did need to win to survive. And yet, they had to turn up for work on Saturday and defend their accursed record. Home advantage is not really an advantage any more. It would mean travelling to Dublin anyway, or somewhere (actually I'm not sure, because Landsdowne is closed too), where they've lost many games before. And yet, despite all that, they almost did it. It seemed inevitable that they were going to cross the line in those dying minutes, but it never happened. It was a shame to lose the record to those starved, cheating English cunts of all people. It would have been more of an honour to lose to, say, Toulouse. But, there's another point; Munster didn't need to prove that they could beat Leicester any more = they've done that ever since the fuckers had to cheat to win the 2001 final. And now Munster are European champions themselves.

I did experience the stinging sensation of having to go down to local pub and watch it all on a British satellite company that had hijacked the match rights and was beaming pictures of my province playing within my province to me while I was also in my province. So, I didn't actually make to Thomond after all, but a friend of mine did so I amalgamated myself with his character for the earlier chapter for dramatic effect. The Brit commentating (with his Ulster crony who was getting a horn eulogising about Ian Humphries) was a particularly cruel touch to the defeat. I have no more words to give other than those already given about my feelings on that point.

I'll leave it there. In any case, if those Leicester girls manage to beat Stade Francais, they'll have to face us again (hopefully), and this time they'll be playing a team with adrenaline coming out of the very pores in their skin.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blasting Beautiful Bantry

This is very close to where I live. The Mediterranean it is not. The South-west of Ireland it is. Bantry is a nice market town by the sea - architecturally typical Irish settlement with a reclaimed square named Wolfe Tone Square and covered in sandy-coloured bricks. Take the time to study the photos - it's not bad, is it? Nothing too hideous about it, is there? Pleasant, you might say? Yes, yes, you'd be right there. It's a pleasant kind of place by the sea all right.

But what about this for a big lump of a monstrosity? Isn't that one of the most hideous-looking designs for a building you've ever seen in your life? It's right beside an old anitque store in front of the grounds of Bantry House (which is pictured below so as not to avoid confusion) Wouldn't you think that any sane person whose job it is to look over plans of proposed buildings would say to the developer something like; "Yes, it will be a good addition to the town but it's a shit-ugly building and it will cause mass depression amongst people who have to pass it by every day, you see. So, you can have the permission to build it if you just make a little more effort in the design end of things - Might I suggest some swirls or flourishes to soften the stark lines?" But, no... obviously this didn't happen because the builders Murnane & O'Shea are flying ahead with it and will be finished it in about 3 months time. I've asked a lot of people for their opinion on the building and nobody likes it. Moreover, everyone hates it, in fact. For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would give planning permission for anyone to erect an ugly building lacking in any kind of joy or imagination. Anyway, it's a bit too late to do anything about it. At least the hotel will have a nice view of Bantry Harbour and all that lovely expanse of water in front of them and the mountains beyond. But, hang on! Hold the phone! Haven't the semi-literate fuckwits at Murnane & O'Shea only just gone and put in planning permission for a similarly drab-looking 4-storey heap of shit on the ground just across the road from it - on a piece of land that'll have the harbour waters right behind it. So, all the guests will see when they look out of their hotel window is a smaller version of the concrete box they're in and when people drive into Bantry from the Cork direction, they'll have to run the gauntlet of 2 hideous concrete bunkers on either side of them, blocking out light and happiness from their brains. There's already a nickname for it - West Cork Wood Quay.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fair James Bond

He makes a fair old James Bond, that Daniel Craig fella. He's just the same age as me too, but not as handsome, I'd like to believe. The missus thinks he's beautiful altogether, so she does. I personally don't think a whole lot of his looks; his head is a peculiar shape, for a start, far more peculiar even than my own head, but I suppose you have to be grateful for what God gave you, if there is a God. And, within peculiarity, there is very often an inherent beauty that you might not notice on first glance, or else it's the way that you notice the beauty first and not notice the peculiarity for a considerable time afterwards - normally when you get into some sort of disagreement with the person. For example, a friend of mine named ---- once was doing a strong and thick line with a girl named Alice who had a most unusually wide arse and a dramatically overhanging set of teeth. What the rest of her was like, I could not really be sure, even to this day, because those two features were so prominent that it was difficult to see beyond them. You could say that they cast a spell of ugliness and deformity over her entire face and body. On opportune occasions when Alice was out of earshot (a bit of a rarity) or somewhere else entirely (rarer still), we would take the time to point out these noticeable shortcomings to ----. We, the lads, all agreed that he was a pretty handsome fella and that it wasn't in his best interest to be seen with such an elephant seal.

We didn't put it in so many words, but the message was clear nonetheless. He understood that we only had his interest at heart, of course and took it all in his stride with a smile on his face. For he, unlike us, could not see the unattractive features in this woman, only the attactive ones. So while we couldn't keep staring at the wide berth of an arse and the cliff-hanging gnashers, all he kept on about were her beautiful eyes, her sallow clear skin, her laugh (really), and her "lovely big tits". He may have had a point about the tits - they were large-sized all right, but he couldn't see that they had simply evolved into that size solely for the geological purposes of counter-balancing her unfeasibly large arse. I thought that that would have been clear to anyone. No; nothing would do but that this Alice (if that was her real name) was a fine, sexually attractive woman who was great craic, time flew when he was with her, she could read his inner child, inventive as a Thomas Edison in the scratcher, blah blah blah... stop talking shite and get your round in! That's what one would inevitably end up saying to him. He was a bit boring when he got going about her, it has to be said.
So, it all comes down to the beholder and what's in their eyes. When I was 6th class, I had the hots for this fierce looking yoke with short hair and who had a voice like a very evil goblin. But I could see nothing but that lovely smile and that neat arse every time I looked at her - until I suddenly came to my senses one day after she had started wearing something different.

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Hooray for Hugo !

He did it again - landslide job this time and thankfully no-one calling "foul" or "Hey, all his voters are voting 5 times". Worried I might be - it's true - that his plans to alter the possible terms of office and the legislative powers of the presidential role might be a move to make himself president for life, but this is his 4th successive election victory in a country that seems to value its democracy. Chavez describes his victory as "another defeat for the devil who wants to dominate the world". American people are nice from what I've met of them, but their foreign policy sure is evil and I can see how someone like him whom the Americans have been bad-mouthing about for years (joined, on occasion by their Leading Bitches in Europe - the Brits) and who will have experienced first-hand attempts by Uncle Sam to get rid of him. Only about 20 years ago, the nearby offshore Caribbean nation of Grenada was invaded by the Americans because they didn't like the look of the new guy. So, let's hope that this is a cold slap in the face for the World Police State. Somehow, I fear that the reality in the future will involve the US getting their way and slowly but surely bringing down all the left-wing South American states to a state of anarchy like they did in the 1970's. History will repeat itself. It always does.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fierce windy here

The wind is very fierce down here at the moment. I only hope that it stops in time for Munster's next match next week. The return of the bould Christian Cullen beckons. The man seems to have been developing a Mohawk style of hair during his recuperation from the latest in a seemingly interminable number of shoulder injuries. It's actually quite extraordinary when you think that he was sought out in 2003 as an answer to Munster's lack of depth of star quality and although he's played quite a few times since, he's spent most of the crucial games out of action because a persistently popping shoulder. You would tend to forget that he's the record-holding try-scorer for the All Blacks. But, the point is that, effectively without the talents of Cullen, Munster have managed to overcome all round them in Europe. It remains to be seen whether the speed and turn of pace of the old Cullen will come back into the Munster game, but for the above, best to consult the likes of Barry Murphy (also back after a freakish and horrific mangling of his leg last year) or the new Lifeimi Mafi. That name is, as you can imagine, a bit of a mouthful to most people from Munster, so he has been re-christened Larry Murphy, just so as to avoid any confusion, you understand.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Too Early for the Late Late Toys

A great annual occasion, it always was in my house when I was growing up, so it was; the old Late Late Toy Show, that is. Ah, yes. The memories are as fond as they are warm, staying up far later than I'd ever dreamed possible, being surrounded by boxes of Lemons sweets, glittering tinsel and sprigs of holly thoughtfully sellotaped to the wallpaper. The fire having settled to an impressive glow, we got out the old toasting fork and made toast by the fire with thick slices of Doherty's white bread. Mmmm! Thick white toast with melted butter! And then the ads would be over and we'd brush the crumbs off the pyjamas and turn our faces towards the true hearth of the Irish home to stare and drool over more toys.

Well, last night the Late Late Toy Show was on again. That plank Pat Kenny has actually improved on the charm stakes when it comes to dealing with children. It's still a constant source of annoyance to see him cut short the kids just when they're getting interesting and they way in which he nervously flits from one question to the next, giving us all the impression that he really has somewhere to go. Maybe he doesn't pay a visit to the toilet before he goes on air - I don't know. Even in the relaxing atmosphere of the Toy Show format, he still manages to stiffen up and blurt out the wrong thing. For example, last night he had an already nervous-looking younwan down from the audience to play against him in air-hockey for a prize (a game which he forfeited in a most craven way). Then, he gets her to "dance" with this impressive-looking robot and when he exits stage left with the girl standing on his platform, Timber-tongued Kenny says; "I don't know what you're going to do with her, but... Enjoy!".

Anyway, the kids enjoyed the experience for all the same reasons that I used to enjoy it. It didn't seem to matter to them that it was on a couple of weeks too early. Before, at least you would have had your Christmas decorations up when it was on, but since they've started putting it on so early, you're watching the thing in the middle of a sort-of Christmas vacuum. Strange. Time for a nap, It think.zzzzzzzzzz

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rendition Admission

Well, this is brilliant, isn't it? According to the report by the specially-dreamed-up EU commission, most of the EU states were clearly aware of what was going on with the American goons going around abducting suspicious-looking people at random, tying them up, kicking the shit out of them, giving them a free but uncomfortable plane trip to somewhere more exotic but where even less questions are asked than in wealthy, civilised Europe, tortured some more, and finally killed or returned with a muttered apology - depending on whether or not the suspect would be sorely missed or whether the relatives or friends would have the wherewithal to complain about it.

Not only that, but the report also noted a distinct lack of cooperation from all the governments concerned, with the exception of Germany and Spain (who were both, paradoxically, two of Uncle Sam's biggest bitches in Europe, but Germany had one of their citizens abducted and tortured and the Spaniards have swung left and pulled out of the kill-everyone-in-Iraq campaign). Dermot Ahern - our foreign minister - was supposed to be "fuming" and "livid" about the report and he seemed particularly annoyed that the report was made public a couple of days earlier than he expected. I mean, doesn't that fact alone tell you something of the lack of morality under which this government operates? So, it was a few days earlier - that's good to know the facts sooner rather than later, isn't it? After fuming and whingeing, the miffed minister then took to "na-na na-na-na!" schoolyard politics, when he jumped on the fact that one alleged rendition flight landed in Knock. "More apparition than rendition" he peevishly pouted.

Bertie himself played the old "Well now, I'm a straight-talking honest man" card by claiming that he sat facing George Bush in the Oval Office, looked him in the eye and asked "Eehhh... George. You know that thing there where you ehhh... allegedly ehh.... choose people who look like they're going to murder a load of people and then ehh... take them away for questioning... or whatever - none of my business, mind! Well, you know that thing; they're calling it rendition or something...."
"Well, I don't suppose you ever bring your ehh... guests through Irish airspace ... eh... Shannon airport, for example."
"Hell no!"
"Right. Well, ehh... dat's good enough for me, den. I don't tink we need to go bothering your people by searching the ehh... planes or anyting like dat -"
"Well, I'd sure appreciate if we didn't have to, uh... step down to those levels of mistrust. After all, we're all like family here, what with my great grand-uncle being a fan of John McCormack and all."
"Of course, of course! Ehh... how are the kids?"
"In rehab. But they're fine. You know kids - always manage to land on their feet; just like dogs."
"Yeh. Yeh. Heh-heh!"
"Well, I'd better git back to my schedule. That crazy world ain't gonna run itself, now is it?"
"No, no. Ok, then."
"There wasn't anything else you wanted me to ask, was there?"
"No... no there wasn't. Ehh... fair enough. I'd better go, too. Mustn't keep the Irish public waiting."
"Okay, then. Oh, and would it be too much to ask your people in Shannon to keep those Al-quaida protesters away. That last plane they broke cost us three million dollars."
"Of course. Ehh... no problem. Ehh... goodbye Lord Bush - eh.. I mean, Mister President."
"Bye, bye! Y'all come back now, hear?"

I know this because a diplomat friend of mine smuggled a tape recorder in his pocket when he was in the Oval Office with Bertie and Georgie.

The Americans really have the world in a vice-like grip of terror; work with us or we'll kill you, is the message, it seems. I must go to the jacks now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Killer Dogs & Politicial Assassins

I was rummaging through the French press in an electronic manner yesterday and came across a few interesting things:

First of all, much as I hate sensationalism - which is particularly prevalent in Ireland at the moment through the "Oirish" publications and supported by swelling masses of the idiot classes - it really is hard to resist a headline that reads "Woman killed by 4 Rottweilers". That's a headline straight out of a Stephen King book, if ever there was one. The unfortunate unnamed 23-year-old met her untimely end when not one, not two, not even three, but actually four - that's FOUR!- hungry Rottweilers took a ravenous liking to her, specifically her left arm and her head. It all happened in Villers-sur-There, near Beauvais (a place familiar to Ryanair travellers for the large shed with the marquee extension that passes for a an airport terminal building - not that there's anything wrong with it, in fact). According the local captain of the Gendarmerie - Michel Le Ray, the fire brigade were called to the courtyard house and had to terminate the lives of the four dogs with extreme prejudice before entering. "These were big bastards!" (I'm translating with liberal usage of poetic licence here) said Le Ray, holding his hands wide and his eyes bulging. "They must have been somewhere between 60 and 80kg". Now an 80kg-dog is a big bastard. I happen to know that I'm about 82kg myself, so in my opinion a mutt that size doesn't really need to live any longer, especially one that's been bred for causing terminal death. The neighbours were of the same opinion. They had already complained about the dogs that seemed to belong to 3 men who lived in the property. The mayor Christian Sadowski confirmed this, saying that only 2 of the dogs were declared to the town hall, accounting for a 50% figure of undeclared man-eating dogs. Dogs killing people is a rarity in France. In fact, there hadn't been any cases of it for ten years until a 17-month-old girl was killed by one of those dirty rotten-looking staffordshire bull terriers in June at Seine-Saint-Denis and an 8-year-old was killed in June also in Seine-Maritime by a bull mastiff.

Whatever about an animal losing the head and attacking, the calculated nature of political assassinations is very depressing. Pierre Gemayel appears to have been murdered by Syrian agents, just like the Prime Minister Hariri was. I heard old Walid Jumblat speaking to Le Monde laying the blame for Gemayel's death firmly at the foot of the Syrian president. Hariri's son saying the same thing. All of this is not good for Lebanese unity. It makes we wonder in whose real interest all of this unrest really lays. I know I'm becoming more rabidly anti-American every day, but this kind of shit does play into their hands and into the hands of the Israelis... Maybe not.

Whatever you do though, don't criticise Vladimir Putin specifically and the Russian government generally. Because if you do, you'll be lucky to suffer no more than international boycott (like they did with the Georgians) and if you're not so lucky, you'll end up shot (like the journalist Anna Politkovskaya) or poisoned, like Alexander Litvinenko. There's no other nation that so brazenly assassinates its personae non grata, is there? The Americans make sure to cover their trail pretty well, the British and the French do it very secretly and, if they're caught red-handed, at least there's a token gesture of embarrassment. But the Russians? All the clues are just dropped in a heap at the scene; a bunch of arrows pointing straight at Putin's rat-like features. And he smirks, shrugs and says (I don't speak Russian very well, so I'm partially making it up) "Did I do that? Ha ha! Prove it if you dare, or else fuck off and don't be annoying me!"

All this talk of Rottweilers and shifty politics brings me back to Brian Cowen - finance minister of the Glorious Peoples Republic of Ireland. It's so boringly undramatic presenting a CD to the media, isn't it? In the good old days, the finance minister had an attache case crammed with papers and the reason it made much more exciting television is that you know that if you could just reach out your hand and grab the attache case and open it, you would have all the papers laid out, which you could read and be party to a great wisdom. It made you drool slightly. Not like the feckin' CD. I mean, what's the point? You'd have to grab it, find a computer, put the disk into it, plug in the computer, switch on the monitor, get a cup of coffee, and you know what? I couldn't be arsed with it - I'm sick of looking at computer screens all day. But the point is that you can't grab a cd and immediately rifle through its contents. That's the crucial and dramatic difference right there. I'm going now, tired as I am of staring at a computer screen, to go and rummage through a desk and then an attache case.