Donald and Paris

What are we going to do with Donald? It seems that dividing the world and having an extremely questionable hairstyle is not enough for The Lowest Common Denominator Dude.

This week Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Accord.

This was not unexpected.

The Paris Accord is an international agreement signed in 2016 which addresses climate change. It seems there is something going on with planet earth that is not altogether positive.

The ice caps are melting, carbon gas is everywhere, trees are getting scarcer. It would appear that we are in something of a self created pickle with regard to keeping the show on the road.

As with most problems in life, when viewed in their entirety, they can seem a little daunting and insurmountable. It seems the trick is to break the problem down. A bit like being faced by a pint of Guinness. At first glance it might seem quite a challenging prospect to lower all of this liquid down ones throat. However, sip by sip and step by step, it can actually be done. And lo and behold, when the first one is safely down the hatch it becomes that bit easier to manage a second one.

And so it is with climate change, the only way out of this particular mess, as has often been said of late, is for individuals to make small lifestyle changes. For the next trip to London My Good Self intends to travel by boat and train.

When people make changes, the world of business and finance has a tendency to follow. It’s quite a strange phenomenon. When the good folk of business and finance change direction then, for some unknown reason, our good friends the politicians seem to move along gently in their slipstream. And often not so gently.

My Good Self finds these trends to be most perplexing at times. I wonder why they happen. Then, as if struck by an emission from Donald Trumps hairspray, the single word answer comes to me.

Money.

Any hope for Hong Kong?

Things are hotting up in Hong Kong. Protests are getting more aggressive and violent. The police are responding in kind.

For most of the years between 1842 and 1997 Hong Kong was a British colony. It then became a ‘Special Administrative Region’ of China, meaning that it would have 50 years to find its own feet before becoming a fully fledged part of China in 2047.

Of late the only people in Hong Kong who are really finding their feet are the protesters.

Earlier this year, Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, attempted to introduce an Extradition Bill in order to make it easier for mainland China to bring people living in Hong Kong before the Chinese courts whenever it saw fit.

This was a step too far for many citizens of Hong Kong, particularly its youth. Protests began and are still continuing. At one point it was estimated that 2 million people were protesting. The population of Hong Kong is 7.4 million.

The Extradition Bill was not introduced, but the protests are continuing. It would appear that the people of Hong Kong do not trust their politicians.

So what’s going to happen?

On June 4 1989 the Chinese government suppressed pro-democracy protests in Tianmen Square, Beijing. Hundreds, possibly thousands, died.

So will there be a repeat in Hong Kong?

It’s unlikely. In 1989 there were no mobile phones. The story of the Tianmen Square Massacre almost did not reach the outside world. However the Chinese government had not reckoned on BBC reporter Kate Adie.

Violent suppression of the current protests would harm China in many ways. Mostly in its pocket. Money has a tendency to talk.

In Hong Kong democracy is challenging The System, and the question remains;

Who will win?

What’s going to happen to Boris?

Dear old Boris. In a way I admire him. A clown who has somehow ascended to the throne. Not many people do that.

So, it’s election time again in the UK. Not before time. Jeremy Corbyn finally decided to put gloomy opinion polls to one side and bow to the pressure.

December 12. Be there or be round.

It’s a Brexit election.

The European Union is far from a perfect institution. It exists in Brussels and Strasbourg. Brussels is one of my least favourite cities, leaving aside the beautiful Grand Place. I have never been to Strasbourg. I’m not sure I’m missing anything. For all its faults the EU has ensured one thing; no country in Central Europe has gone to war with one of its neighbours for many years now. The triumph of the EU is that war in Central Europe now seems an impossibility.

There are many families in The Balkans who appreciate the value of peace.

Nothing in life remains the same. Everything, without exception, is in a constant of change. We are either moving forward or backwards. Unity is progression. Division is regression.

From what I can gather the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists are the only parties that are committed to a second referendum on Brexit. If there is another vote on it, there will be a different result.

It’s been three and a half years since the original decision. Many people who voted in favour last time around are no longer with us. Many pro European teenagers who were not eligible to vote in June 2016 now have the opportunity to change things.

Come December 12, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists will profit.

Nigel Farage will remain a significant voice.

It will be the beginning of the end for Boris and Jeremy.

The Tories and Labour will soon need new leaders.

As it happens, My Good Self is available.

The Showdown

And then there were two. England and South Africa. The Sweet Charioteers face up to The Springboks.

It’s the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

South Africa have the great Nelson Mandela looking down from above, urging them on. England have Boris Johnson.

How lucky can one country be?

My Good Self is torn between two lovers. On the one hand, I have many dear friends Across The Water. On the other foot, Mandela was my all time hero. My head says England will win. My heart lies with Mandela. I have laid the two jerseys on the floor in front of me. White and green. Which to choose?

I am going with the white. It’s me and Boris, shoulder to shoulder.

Today, I am of England.

Joining me to view The Big Match is none other than the all time leading try scorer for The Home Country, Brian O’Driscoll. We had a brief catch up about old battles that we fought together in the Six Nations, and also our times on tour with The Lions, before settling down to oversee events in Yokohama.

The analysts do the pre match waffle. They are leaning cautiously towards The Sweet Charioteers.

Kick off and it’s The Springboks who are first off the mark with a penalty. England not the same team as last Saturday, but they still equalise. South Africa hit back and retake the lead, 6-3. Again England get level. Again The Springboks edge ahead and then go further away. England in trouble. Half time South Africa 12 England 6.

Second half and The Boks pull further away. There looks to be only one winner now. England not dead yet. They have a good scrum , get a penalty, just miss another. They’re back in it. An exchange of penalties. 18-12. 20 minutes remaining. Will either side get a try? Yes. And it goes to South Africa. England need a miracle. Instead they concede another try. It’s a hammering. Final score South Africa 32 England 12.

The Springboks are deserved champions.

Boris is distraught. Mandela is smiling.

My Good Self needs a new drug.

The opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics is a mere 265 days away.

But hey, who’s counting?

Laurence Olivier, Mark Knopfler, Samuel Beckett and My Good Self

Thursday is often a relatively busy day for My Good Self.

As someone who is no longer in the world of recompensed exertion (paid employment), my life is something of a privileged, leisurely existence with few regular commitments. However, come Thursday, My Good Self must be in top form.

I have things to do, places to go and people to see.

My first appointment is breakfast with The Northsider and her faithful four legged friend (guide dog), Mulan. This takes place in my local Michelin Star cafe. I feel most fortunate to have such a high class dining establishment on my doorstep.

Breakfast done and devoured, it’s off to meet up with my Smashing Barriers mates who are busy preparing for the upcoming theatrical performances of their literary masterpiece ‘Dead or Alive’. With a view to fine tuning our rehearsals I gave my good buddy Laurence Olivier a call. My Good Self and Larry attended the same kindergarten together many seasons back and we have remained in close contact ever since. He gave the gang many useful tips. He’s a good lad.

Later it was off to The Guitar Man in order to advance my attempts to scale classical guitar Mount Everest. Happily we were joined by my old band mate, Mark Knopfler. We had a most pleasant catch up on our time together in Dire Straits. He told me about his latest solo album. I told him I was working on a Grade 8 ditty called ‘La Ausencia’.

He was bowled over.

Of course no day would be complete without a visit to The Great Institution of Chatham Street. And who did I come across there only Samuel Beckett. He informed My Good Self that he was waiting for a friend of his by the name of Godot. He told me a little bit about this Godot guy. From what I could gather Godot seemed a most unreliable dude when it came to keeping appointments.

Later, on returning to My Official Residence, I performed my final task of the day.

I hit the hay.

The Cosmo King

The Cosmo King is a former member of that elite and highly respected group, The Good Folk Behind The Bar.

The Good Folk Behind The Bar are the heart and soul of The Great Institution of Chatham Street. They are the people to whom I turn for a little stimulating chatter on evenings when I depart My Official Residence, head across the Liffey, wander up Grafton Street and make the right-left-right- left chicane at the corner of Chatham Street that sees me safely into porter.

Taking up My Preferred Barstool one fine evening at The Holy Grail Known As The Bar I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of The Cosmo King.

Although he is one or two seasons younger than My Good Self this did not prevent us from building up quite an excellent rapport. We discussed in detail the great questions of life. And then we got on to the only issue that really mattered.

Who would win the upcoming US Masters golf tournament.

My Good Self felt that Tiger Woods and Jordan Speith were the men to beat. The Cosmo King thought otherwise We argued back and forth but I was not to be dissuaded. I stuck to my guns and duly strolled down to My Sometime Friend Paddy Power, put forth a wager, and lo and behold a few days later I was a slightly wealthier young man.

And it was all down to the chat I had had with The Cosmo King.

A few moons back I had the great pleasure of witnessing at first hand the golfing skills of The Cosmo King. I had been invited by The Boss to do a little Strolling The Fairways (golf) and The Cosmo King had also been asked along. Jack Nicklaus got wind of what was going on and he wondered could he join us. My Good Self and Jack go back a long way, it was nice to have him along with us. We chatted amiably about old triumphs. Jack recounted stories from his Open Championship successes at Muirfield and St. Andrews. I told him of the time when I had two successive birdies down at Waterford Castle.

He was suitably impressed.

The following day My Good Self and Jack took up residence in The Great Institution of Chatham Street and who was on hand to look after us only The Cosmo King, He rustled up a couple of his world famous cosmopolitan cocktails and in no time at all the world was quite a wondrous place to My Good Self and Jack,

A few moons ago I received the shock news that The Cosmo King was moving on to fresh pastures. After falling off my bar stool and needing to be resuscitated by the Emergency Services, I somehow managed to gather myself together and come to my senses.

It was a tough blow for My Good Self but I somehow made it through. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am indebted to The Cosmo King for making me stronger.

The Cosmo King has departed the scene. May he live long.

We shall meet again.

The Greatest

This morning I Emerged From The Hay (got up) shortly after five bells, a little earlier than is customary for My Good Self. I duly sauntered over to The Magic Boiler (kettle), hit the switch and in no time at all I was sipping away at The Day Commencing Liquid (tea).

My morning kicked off with A Bit Of Scribbling. My Scribbling Career owes a great deal to The Guinness Pensioner. I regularly exchange Electronic Missals (emails) with The Guinness Pensioner and I am delighted to report that she is in spiffing form.

My next port of call was The Melodic Six Strings (my classical guitar). Of all the various instruments in My One Man Orchestra, it is The Melodic Six Strings that receives the most attention. She is quite A Demanding Young Woman. I endeavour to satisfy her daily.

As daylight made its way into My Official Residence (apattmet), I decided to wander down to The Phoenix Park for a wee stroll.

And lo and behold who should I bump into there only The King himself, Muhammad Ali. It was a great pleasure to see him again. We chatted about old times and agreed to catch up later on in The Great Institution of Chatham Street.

At this point in proceedings My Good Self was feeling somewhat peckish so I opted to grab A Little Bit Of Sustinance (lunch) in My Local Michelin Star Cafe.

Later that evening I hooked back up with The King in The Great Institution. As is our custom on these happy occasions we discussed all of the current pressing world issues before getting on to my own personal favourite topic of conversation with The King.

None other than The Rumble In The Jungle.

Taking place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire, The Rumble In The Jungle was a World Championship heavyweight boxing match between George Foreman and The King. Foreman had won all before him and was considered to be unbeatable. But he hadn’t met The King.

Cometh the hour, cometh Ali.

The King took many blows in the early rounds from Foreman that night in Kinshasa, before pouncing in the eighth round to emerge victorious.

The documentary movie ‘When we were King’s’ captures all the drama and theatre of The Rumble In The Jungle. I can heartily recommend it to one and all.

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.

My Beloved Yamaha

Music is the focal point of My Humble Existence.

True, it has been said of My Good Self that my entire being revolves 110% around The Great Institution of Chatham Street, and if ever I were to be charged with such an offence, there is no doubt but that I would need a very good defence lawyer in order to escape long term incarceration.

Be that as it may, it really is, All About The Music.

The Japanese are quite handy at many things in life. Just ask the Irish rugby team.

Yamaha, a Japanese Corporation, are probably best known for their production of motorised vehicles of various kinds.They also do quite an excellent number in musical instruments.

My Beloved Yamaha is my clarinet.

A few seasons back, in 2012, I quit Recompensed Exertion (paid employment). I had the opportunity to get out whilst behind so I took it.

I had no definite road in mind with which to follow when I called it quits, just a few notional laneways.

Music was one of them. I began with alto saxophone, inspired by the great players on stage in the iconic venue, JJ Smyths of Aungier Street, in The Fabulous Fair City (Dublin).

A couple of miles down Saxophone Road, I began to get curious about the clarinet.

Curiosity and My Credit Card are very closely linked.

Shortly afterwards My Beloved Yamaha arrived into my hands. It was a happy acquisition. I have since spent many pleasant and therapeutic hours learning and playing tunes.

Although I have yet to acquire worldwide fame and fortune in this area of my life, I feel certain it is only a matter of time. Indeed I was only having a Southern Comfort & Red with my good friend Benny Goodman the other day, and he was very much in agreement with My Good Self that I am on the cusp of Clarinet Greatness.

Buskers Of Grafton Street Beware.

My Beloved Yamaha is on the way.

The Lowest Common Denominator Dude

Head Honcho (President) of the Land Of Uncle Sam (United States), The Lowest Common Denominator Dude is, in so many ways, quite a remarkable middle aged man.

Written off as something of a joke in the lead up to the 2016 US Presidential Election, it turned out that he had the last laugh.

And he’s still laughing.

Raised with a good sized silver spoon in his mouth, he has seen a mixture of success and failure in his business career to date.

He has had more close shaves than the finest of Gillette razors. He has sacked more people than he has employed.

Had he remained in the corporate world no doubt we would view him as something of a human curiosity with a totally unique hairstyle.

But he did not remain in the corporate world. He chose to enter the world of politics, he beat all the odds, knocked all of his opponents for six and he won.

He has spent the last three years of his not so humble existence dividing, and often conquering, those around him.

Although he has invited My Good Self to The White House on many occasions for a few late afternoon gin & tonics, I have yet to accept his invitation. It’s the ‘hair thing’. I am very much concerned that were I to view ‘The Unique Hairstyle’ in person, it would have a detrimental affect on The Two Spherical Objects On Either Side Of My Nose.

The next US Presidential Election is looming fast on the horizon. The opposing Democratic Party have many contenders for the dubious honour of facing down The Lowest Common Denominator Dude at the polls next year.

Whoever emerges from the crowd to do battle with him will have to be made of strong stuff.

The Lowest Common Denominator Dude likes to hit beneath the belt. He has few, if any, moral scruples.

And he likes to win.

Madiba is looking down

Madiba was the tribal name of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

On the many occasions when My Good Self and Madiba met for cocktails, back in the Good Old Days, I would often refer to him as ‘Madi Baby’. He would affectionately refer to My Good Self as ‘The Long Planks Kid’. I retain fond memories of the pleasant evenings we shared together.

One of Mandela’s greatest moments came just before the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The host country, South Africa, had qualified to play the favourites, New Zealand. Mandela was the recently elected President Of South Africa. The country was struggling to emerge from the dark era of Apartheid. There were still many conflicts between black and white. Rugby was a white mans game. Mandela appeared on the pitch wearing South African captain Francois Pienaars spare no.6 jersey and a Springbok baseball cap. It was a hugely significant symbolic gesture which united the country.

The second semi final of this year’s Rugby World Cup is between Wales and South Africa. My England jersey is in the washing machine. I am back in green.

Today, I am of South Africa.

The tea and toast have been been taken care of. The pre match waffle is complete. The analysts are leaning to The Springboks.

Will they be right?

Kick off and The Springboks are first off the mark with a penalty. Our Welsh Cousins equalise. The Boks knock over a second penalty, and then a third. The Men In Red reduce the margin with their second penalty. It’s a war of attrition. Half time gong and it’s South Africa 9 Wales 6.

Second half and it’s a game of mistakes. Wales draw level. The Boks go over for the first try of the match. They’re looking good, but this Welsh team are made of strong stuff. They hit back and it’s 16-16. All square with 15 minutes to go. The Boks get a soft penalty and they’re ahead again. It’s the decisive blow. Full time gong and it’s South Africa 19 Wales 16.

So it’s England up against The Springboks next Saturday.

Madiba is smiling.

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