Sozzle in The Park

So there I was, down at the Coffee Shack kiosk in Ashtown Castle yesterday, fixing up for my americano and orange & plum slice when I happened to notice a small sign advertising Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It seems there is still a bit of life left yet in the old spherical objects. And just like that the bolt of inspiration hit me square on the noggin. A wee sozzle in The Park may well be no bad thing.

And so it came to pass that I managed to make my way back down there again today and I can happily report that a few drops of the good stuff along with a bakewell slice is your only man of a drizzly Wednesday afternoon.

Grabbing a bus back to The Ranch proved to be a little more interesting than is the norm. I was offered and accepted some assistance from a young man in a wheelchair. We exchanged a few pleasantries, he got off at his stop, I got off at mine, and then reflecting later on the encounter I began to wonder what his reply would have been had I asked him would he swap his chair for my cane if he had the choice. My guess is that he would hold on to the cards that he has and likewise for me.

It’s a funny old world.

Hurling returns, shops reopen

One of the great field games in the world returned to intercounty action yesterday.

Hurling may not be played in all corners of the globe however that does not prevent it from being a sport of immense skill and speed. There were two interesting encounters in particular that caught the attention. The up and coming Dublin team squared up to mighty Kilkenny which saw the Cats emerging with the points. All Ireland champions Limerick squared up to arch rivals Tipperary resulting in the honours being shared.

And then there is the not so small matter of shops reopening this week and a bit more life returning to my city centre neighbourhood. Not to mention the nearing of the big day when draught Guinness can once again be enjoyed on Chatham Street. Cities need people and draught Guinness.

Over in the musical world steady progress continues on my six stringed friend. Speed and fluency continue to be the main challenges with most of my repertoire hovering around the three quarter mark.

The good citizens of Grafton Street can rest easy for now.

As Time Goes By

So there I was, having ambled along the boardwalk, made my way over the Millennium Bridge, wandered through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, successfully negotiated the pedestrian crossing on Dame Street and was dreamily sauntering up South Great Georges Street when who should sidle up alongside me only The Cactus Man.

It was good to see him again.

A wee catch up ensued and he imparted to My Good Self the welcome news that he was living independently these days. Good on him.

Over in Pandemicland my vaccine registration day has almost arrived. Between variants and vaccines it seems that words beginning with the letter ‘v’ are all the rage of late.

Across in the sporting world the big news this week was the announcement of the Lions rugby squad to tour South Africa. Although Ireland has a healthy representation the focus of attention here has been on the omission of Johnny Sexton. Given the physical reputation of the Springboks and Sextons history of head injuries, it seems to me the right decision was made.

And finally on the musical front, a classical guitar arrangement for the tune ‘As time goes by’ has recently been making its way into my fingers.

Play it, Sam.

Some good advice

I was on the blower to The Diligent Drumcondra Man recently, telling him of my plans to invade Grafton Street with my classical guitar. A knowledgeable individual on many fronts and a handy guitarist to boot, he advised me to record myself playing and to listen back with a view to judging my progress.

Excellent advice and having taken it I can clearly hear that I am not yet ready to serenade the citizens of the fair city. I’ll get there, someday.

Meanwhile over in Pandemicland the time has almost arrived for My Good Self to register for the jab. I will be very pleased to receive it and am grateful to all the lab technicians and scientists that were involved in developing it.

Across in the sporting world Queen Katie Taylor remains at the top of her boxing tree after overcoming the challenge of Natasha Jonas. The Mighty Shels were held to a 2-2 draw by Treaty United and have slipped to third place in Division 1. Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle overcame Leo Cullen’s Leinster to set up an all French Champions Cup final. Cullen and O’Gara are both spoken of as possible future Ireland Head Coaches. This result tips the balance towards the Munster man.

That’s all the goss for now, chat soon.

Success or control?

GAA clubs are the heartbeat of Irish community life. Similarly football clubs in Britain are a big part of everyday existence for many people there. GAA clubs are controlled by their members and supporters. Football clubs across the water are not.

The scenes yesterday at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, were sparked by protests over the ownership of the club and the controversial manner in which it was purchased by the American Glazer family in 2005. It seems to me the fact that the club have not won the English league title for several would appear to be part of the fans frustration. All of which leads me to the question of what is more important to sports fans of all codes, success for their local team or control of it?

During the recent Super League debacle football clubs in Germany were not invited to take part because of their system of majority fan ownership. So if Germany can put in place a system to protect an important part of community life then surely it is possible to do it elsewhere.

The Big News

So there I was, making hard work of finding the entrance door to Eason’s bookshop on O’Connell Street, when I was happily harangued by a voice that I hadn’t heard from in a while. The Cycling Correspondent, it was great to see him again. A most pleasing catch up ensued and he imparted to me the news that I had been longing to hear. The Great Institution of Chatham Street will be reopening its doors on Tuesday, 8 June. Hallelujah, Amen, Sacre Bleu, Mon Dieu and whatever you might be having yourself. There is a God.

Meanwhile, over in the sporting world the big gig this weekend is Katie Taylor putting all her boxing world titles on the line against Britain’s Natasha Jonas. The pair met in the London Olympics of 2012, with Taylor winning out in a hard fought battle. One of Ireland’s greatest ever sportspeople, Taylor is favoured to emerge victorious again.

Over in La Rochelle on Sunday, Leinster will be out to put one over on Munster legend Ronan O’Gara in the Champions Cup semifinal, in what promises to be a close encounter.

And in television land the Formula 1 documentary series ‘Drive to survive’ is well worth a look.

A bientot mes amis.

Switching sides

The Boys From Anfield will have to survive without me from here on in. I’m off, going back to my roots. I’m switching sides.

There are two teams based on the northside of Dublin currently playing in the two divisions of the League of Ireland, Shelbourne and Bohemians. Shels are based in Tolka Park, on Richmond Road. Bohs play their home games in Dalymount Park, Phibsboro. I’ve always preferred the intimacy of Tolka Park to the more expansive Dalymount and so there it is, Shelbourne are my new team.

Currently they lie second in Divion 1, looking good for a run at promotion to the Premier Division. They face Treaty United on Friday evening in Tolka. I have cleared my schedule and am available for selection. I have also subscribed to the Shels online newsletter. What more can I possibly do?

Over in the world of music I have put the finishing touches to my first attempt at writing a song. If anyone would like a listen just drop me a line.

That’s all the goss for now, a bientot mes amis.

West Brit Dub

Following on from a recent comment by The Paper Pen Lady around sporting allegiances, I’ve been reflecting on the strange business of Irish people supporting English football clubs whilst paying little or no attention to their own local teams.

In my younger days Home Farm were my local club and to don the famed blue and white hooped jersey in ones teenage years meant that you could play. My own footballing career entailed a brief period in the orange and black of St. Kevin’s. Liam Brady once played for Kevin’s. He went on to star for Arsenal, Juventus and Ireland, amongst others. So what went wrong for me? Too long a story.

Tolka Parlk was where Home Farm played their League of Ireland games and although I got along to several matches there, I was never a regular. I’ve probably been to almost as many games at Anfield and Old Trafford than club games here.

And given that I listen far more to the BBC than RTE, I have decided to renounce my Irish citizenship in favour of a new gig.

I am hereby announcing the formation of the group that will be known from here on in as the West Brit Dubs.

All are welcome, even United fans.

Afternoon sozzle

So there I was, guitar practice done and dusted, and all set for a wee wander in the outside world when the call came. The call of the balcony.

It was a glorious afternoon, the sun was shining and so there was only one thing for it. The balcony, a few buttered cream crackers, a large glass of the good stuff and a bit of Gregory Porter on the sounds. Sorted.

Elsewhere the Super League debacle continues to hog the sporting headlines. An interesting point was the swift and strong reaction of UEFA, the governing body of European football, against the proposal, which was in stark contrast to a recent decision they made with regard to a case concerning racist abuse. Seems that money matters more to UEFA than human decency. Quelle surprise.

Out in Pandemicland I remain completely confident that I will receive a vaccine at least a few days before The Grim Reaper calls. Its on the way, I just know it is.

In the meantime, the wine shelves need restocking.

The absolute essentials must be taken care of, chat soon.

Not so super league

I wasn’t too surprised when news recently emerged of the proposed European Football Super League. People who have money usually look for ways to get a little more. Maybe even a lot more. Naive individual that I am, my initial thinking on this subject was that small clubs around Britain, the heartbeat of their local communities who have struggled badly in the pandemic, could possibly benefit from the new proposal with extra television and advertising revenue being directed their way as a kind of ‘trade off’. Sadly there is no talk of such fanciful stuff. It seems the big boys just want to get bigger.

Several English clubs, most notably Liverpool, Manchester United and City, Chelsea and Arsenal are in the hands of wealthy foreign owners, which was all very well so long as they bankrolled the purchase of the best players and managers, and left it at that. It seems they have other ideas. Quelle surprise.

The whole business is disheartening however I have decided to retain a little optimism that some common good will result.

It’s good to dream.

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