Monday, October 12, 2020

Update 12th October


Back a couple of months ago we thought we had it beat but it came back with a vengeance. Now the challenge is there again and it is on our doorstep. So hopefully we as a community will stay the course and do the necessary to stem the tide. And it is certainly a tide in places like the Donegal border areas and Northern Ireland. The third level institutions are really a major issue right now and when the guard is let down it can jump in and create mayhem. The Elphin example is a lesson to us locally.

GAA Response… ‘Disappointing’.
‘Disappointing’ in the GAA context of today introduces me to one (of a series) of words I used in a different life like alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile with the classic being metaphor. ‘Disappointing’ in this line-up might be regarded as a ‘euphemism’ which is really a very mild understatement for something much more serious.  

 If the Covid 19 directions meant little or no personal contacting or hugging and the classic social distancing, then there were many and obvious GAA examples of this being ignored. The front runner of an example of this was following the Dungannon victory in the Tyrone Championship. It was joy unconfined that evening. Rarely have I seen such a celebratory expression of joy at a victory. (Perhaps after Clare won their All-Ireland in ’95.) That was on the pitch. One can only try and imagine what it was like when the ritual celebrations followed in the H.Q. bar of the Club. Apparently Blackrock the winners of a classic Cork county hurling final v Glenn Rovers Sunday had extravagant celebrations which flowed from social media. I have been told also that when Mountbellew-Moylough dethroned Corofin in the Galway Semi-final it was similar.

 It was not always so this summer season. The first final I watched was that of Wexford hurling and at the conclusion of the game it was a pretty muted if satisfying response. I think that may have been in the total lockdown period with no supporters present. Also a real template as to how it might be done was at a top Galway double header in Pearse Stadium. After the first game was over stewards tried to get the spectators for the first game to exit while the quota for the second game entered. How that worked is hard to know but the spirit of compliance was in place.

I have not seen much o.t.t. celebration in Roscommon. St. Brigid’s responded with a body language that suggested that they were confident of victory and were looking to the future. Their Intermediate ladies did however show an unhealthy exuberance in their celebrations after they defeated Boyle in Ballyforan. Recently in passing the Abbey Park where a junior game was in progress the number of cars in the neighbourhood suggested a ‘crowd’ exceeding the acceptable.

So it seems as if you just cannot play team games like these and pretend that ‘social-distancing’ exists and that the mantra of health guidelines is adhered to.

An odd contradiction emerged for me when watching a rugby match on television Leinster v Saracens. A couple of medics attended to an injured player all masked up and covered in protocol. Then, after the stoppage, the thirty players ripped into each other as if it was an experiment in Covid 19 distribution. As Doctor Spock used say ‘Not logical’.   

Shane Curran struck a blow for the concerned when he, the manager, absented himself from the Offaly County ‘B’ Final in which his team Durrow was involved and there were some Covid issue connections to his team. This was a small personal strike for individual care. An early rule was if you find yourself uncomfortable in a particular environment then get out of there.

It is a big pity as the streaming and Television coverage of games this summer was a great success for the cocooned and there many examples of great games with plenty of drama. It is all a learning process I guess.

The recent highlights came from Galway and Queens University in Belfast. The numbers in the 26 counties is very unnerving but those in Northern Ireland they are alarming. That cursed border, in so many ways, seems to be a penance from history for this small island.

So follow the rule if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a ……. Get out of there.     

President Trump and that circus.
I’m back with my oft used exclamation of Victor Meldrew “I dooon’t believe it!”. The cliché with this is; ‘It would be mad funny if it wasn’t so serious’.

Well the past couple of weeks in Washington have been pure theatre. It is hard to have an appropriate title for the kind of ‘theatre’ it was, Macabre perhaps! Trump strode through as the cameras clicked and spectators watched open mouthed. Many applauding the ringmaster and many more just open-mouthed in disbelief.

I stayed up for a time for the debate but just couldn’t take any more. You may recall times when you are watching someone to whom you have no earthly connection but you get embarrassed for them. That whole debate as a unit was an embarrassment to the level of discourse in the United States and many of its citizens must have sensed that. As I have said before; how a great country, which has achieved so much and produced so many branches of arts and culture, cannot consistently have top grade candidates for the primary position in the country i.e. President, just depresses me. This, in fairness, isn’t that hard to do right now!

Trump, for reasonable people, by my code, is just their worst nightmare. Joe Biden looks like a weak opponent and a percentage of the U.S. electorate will reluctantly vote for him because they just cannot vote for Trump. I watched Mister Biden giving an address at Gettysburg (location of one of the great battles of the American Civil War and a famous speech by President Lincoln) yesterday (earlier this week) and he gave a good speech calling for unity of purpose and healing. There were many quotes from the classic original Abraham Lincoln speech so that had to be a big help. 

For my education I have tuned into the competing news channel the pro Trump Fox News and the opposing CNN. They show the polarised state of play there. The drama of Trump being hospitalised, giving his video messages, the outrageous motorcade to salute his supporters, his theatrical exit from the hospital …just incredible stuff. Then the comments about Coved and downplaying it with utterances not to be afraid of it (after 200,000 plus U.S. deaths) and so on. ‘Unbelievable’.

I presume that Rd. Sean Conley cannot be as dumb as the utterances at the ‘press briefings’. He sounds more like a ‘spin doctor’ than a top specialist.   A question; why does it take up to nine other doctors to accompany the one spokesperson at those briefings?

While supporters of Biden wear furrowed brows all of Trump’s spokespeople, many of them quite young, carry a visage of smugness and overbearing confidence with a ‘bring it on’ attitude. Many of them have brought it –Coved illness- on themselves and their boss has to take a lot of the blame for that. While all this was unbelievable drama, the probability is that it will continue for the next month and maybe more. The test will be November 3rd. But whatever way it goes it is not guaranteed to be written in stone either. So take an ‘abundance of caution’ in how you anticipate the great U.S.A. negotiating this strange time for their country. A country that impinges on us all which is why I am so engrossed with it.   

Television Watch and ‘University Challenge’
I presume I am not alone in watching more television than normal. What do I watch? You may not have asked but I’ll mention a few programmes. The one show I consistently make time for is ‘University Challenge’. It is not that I can answer many of the questions but it has a structure and lightness that appeals to me. It is also a team challenge which distributes the responsibility. The original quizmaster was named Bomber Gascoigne while today it is Jeremy Paxman. From early days it achieved cult status. From time to time an Irish student turns up on teams as with a Wicklow girl, Miss Clarke, last Monday night (Oct. 5th) for Edinburgh and one’s curiosity and support anchors there. Last April a Conor Mc Mel from Dublin was on the winning team, Imperial College London, which defeated a Cambridge College. The classic intro of ‘Starter for Ten’ was the title of a film which illustrated the prestige and background to the quiz-with a twist- and its participants. For students it is a real prestige C.V. reference.    

The Chase is now hugely popular as is ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, 15 to 1 with Anne Robinson and finally the General Knowledge section of Mastermind is worth a shot if you are ‘into’ quizzes to a decent degree. A few days ago Ray D’Arcy had Shaun Williamson as a guest and he is a quiz anorak with his book ‘A matter of Facts’. While they can be addictive they are a great source of general knowledge. I always remember my great friend John Mac Nama when I reference quizzes. He was a master. It is odd that RTE does not have a regular quiz show. Years ago it had ones like ‘Rapid Roulette’, ‘Where in the World’ and for schools a very popular one called ‘Blackboard Jungle’ which a very good team from St. Mary’s College gave good shots at in the 80s’.   

Ray D’Arcy Show and Recording Grandparents
Whilst I do not listen to Ray much I did yesterday for a time while walking and he popped in a decent idea which came his way. It came from a listener who regretted not being able to hear his grandfather’s voice and stories. The listener suggested that people might record their grandparents (even their parents!) for posterity. Everyone has a unique voice and when that is stilled it cannot be replicated like photographs and such. I have experience of this in that I ‘taped’ my own mother in the early 80s’ (she died in 1984). The reason I taped her was to send the tape to my brother in Perth, Western Australia. I prepared for the task by writing a ‘script’ for her to speak into my microphone and this she did clearly. Following this I talked to her for a good length of time about whatever with her not knowing that I was still taping. I sent the tape top my brother in Oz and he was delighted with it. But …I made a mistake…I did not keep a copy of it! I regret that of course and when I asked my brother about it subsequently the regret was enhanced it was lost with him.    

Documentaries …Notorious RBG.
One could watch any strain of television programming all day if one wished but I am not an addict and I am a night owl in watching respect. Netflix is a pretty recent outlet for me. The early days of Covid cocooning was signposted in T.V. terms for me by a classic sports series involving the great American basketball player Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. I seem to remember that I mentioned and recommended ‘The Last Dance’ documentary at the time.

About a week ago, on Netflex, I happened on another very different icon the Notorious RBJ (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). You may remember her death a few weeks ago on Sept. 18th in Washington and of her being the first lady to lie in state in the Capitol. She was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court and was only the second lady to achieve this accolade. She was a brilliant law student and a liberal member in a generally conservative and hugely influential branch the U.S. Government. The three branches of which are The Legislature comprising the Congress and Senate; second is the Executive comprising the President and his ‘ministers’ and the Courts, especially The Supreme Court. These branches are meant to act as a balance on each other but often they hobble the work of each other. Two years ago a Brett Kavanagh was nominated (after a struggle) to the Supreme Court and Trump hopes to have a second nominee Amy Coney Barrett –a Catholic- nominated before the election. This will reinforce the conservative numbers in the Supreme Court. It was in the Rose Garden of the White House for an introduction of Coney Barrett by Trump to his foremost supporters that the Covid allegedly took off. You may have seen (especially from U.S. news shows) a picture and nomination of up to a dozen who got the Coved then.

If you are a Netflix person you could do worse than tuning into the documentary on RBG as I can in no way do justice to her here.

Censorship in the Free (!) State
RTE 1 Tuesday Nights at 7 ‘Cosc’ which translates along the lines of ‘BAN’.

Well ‘Cosc’ focuses on morality in Ireland and the strident efforts to enforce a Catholic ethos in how people lived their lives. A big plank in all this were laws which introduced a broad raft of censorship on various forms of public diversion. These covered Books, Newspapers, Music and Cinema. It also extended into the ‘Ban’ on material of a very personal nature.

  The first programme in the series dealt with the extraordinary effort of a priest in Mohill, County Leitrim to Ban… Jazz. Now it was Jazz in a broad sense which would have included other music and dance. On Tuesday last the show dealt with censorship which had been introduced in the Free (!) State circa 1927. Many of Irelands greatest books were ‘banned’ as a result. Most people will be familiar with the notification of films being for various age groups ‘A’ etc. and the film censor’s names being scribbled at the bottom.  The film censorship Act came into being at the beginning of the State in 1922. The idea behind all this censorship is that Irish people would not be contaminated by film or written material especially if it were of a sexual nature.  A great promoter of this was Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin from 1940 until 1972. Mc Quaid had enormous political influence in his time and sexual material was a special taboo with the Cavan born cleric. Was it Gay Byrne himself who suggested that there was no sex in Ireland before ‘The Late Late Show’.    


One of my favourite songs;
These can change from time to time. A while ago it was Linda Ronstadt and ‘Across the Border’ but recently it has been ‘Forever Young’ written by the great Bob Dylan. There are many fine interpretations of the song including Bob himself. My favourite interpretation is by another of my favourite singers Joan Baez. One of my regrets is that I did not go to Dublin to hear Joanie (as Dylan used to call her) about four years ago. Anyway I regularly have her singing this song from my laptop You Tube. I have some very good reasons to link into the lyrics also. So I recommend you listen to it a few times to absorb the sentiments. 


Forever Young written by Bob Dylan sung by Joan Baez

May God's blessing keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay

Forever young

May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

One should not leave a reference to great songs this week-end without mentioning that if John Lennon was alive now he would be aged 80 as he born on October 9 1940. He was shot on December 8th 1980 nearly forty years ago by a Mark David Chapman. It was one of those great artistic tragedies and with it surfaces the eternal question, ‘What if?’

John was responsible for the song which was voted at some stage as ‘the greatest of all (popular) songs’ i.e. ‘Imagine’.                                      


End Note
It has been a number of weeks since I posted to the blog. A good deal has happened since then and there were a number of items that I meant to mention here but looking at the word count in the bottom corner I better adjourn for now. You are taxed enough especially if you have reached HERE.

Take extra care at this dangerous time and if you are not comfortable in an environment …walk away.


t. c.

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