‘Some people think soccer* is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that’.
(* called ‘football’ by soccer imperialists. Or, indeed, himperialists and herperialists alike, for this is a shared space).
This is a quote which is usually attributed to Bill Shankley, who utltmately did a thankless job for Liverpool FC, though the Miaow 2 Movement dispute this. These jennies-come-lately-to-sport locate the source of the quote in the throat of the long-suffering soccer-widow and force of Mother Nature, Shankley’s Mayoress.
Golfing buffs, however, would brag to agree with the sentiments expressed, regardless of who may have mouthed it first, no matter the sport. Especially those clubable golfers who, with a major feel deficit, tend to shank their shots by invariably insisting on hitting the small dimpled Dunlop ball with the heel of their Titleist club. For the ball and all in turn to whack an innocent bystander in the back of the neck, and specifically on a blackhead therein, in most, if not, indeed, in all instances.
Happily, there is one publication which takes a more relaxed view of sport, especially when it is soccer, aka, football, not. The Unionist Times (for it is it !) tends to adopt the more measured, rounded, feet-on-the-grounded approach. This is most clearly seen in its coverage of the refined, Agincourt sport of rugby.
Nothing of the revivalist fervour of the regligious cult of rugby to see here, ach a mhalairt shalach ar fad. The same game where the shape of the ball to quite an extraordinary degree is mirrored and echoed in the elongated, ovoid, ellipsoidal accents of those privately schooled participants in DUBlin 4.
Not least among those genteel Castle C. gentlemen who get to wear the tasselled cap of the British and Irish Lions even as they daily commute on the DORT line. (For this is a Shired space).
Tree hugging TUT adopts towards rugga what can only be described as The Reader’s Digest semi-recumbent pose:
–Laughter is the best medicine.
Again, this is a disputed quote: while it’s normally attributed to TRD, it is sometines laid at the grub street of the hilarous hack and founder of Random House, Bennet Cerf. Though some narky archivists claim to trace its origins much further back to the era of B.C. itself.
To misquote desultorily the largely unknown but legendary wit, Bennet Cerf:
-Inné sheinn Banna Uimhir a hAon, Oglaigh na hÉireann / Yesterday The Free Southern Stateen Army Number 1 Band played Amhrán na bhFiann and Ireland’s Call. Amhrán na bhFiann lost.
A musical policy designed to rub the runny noses of the Serfs in the mud, the blood and the gory glory of the Aviva?
Au contraire ! ’Tis not such a long, long way to Tipp’rary at all at all.
For in fairness, going forward, at the end of the day, it must be averred that a select turfy few from the Serf stratum of atom-splitting Murphy society do get to don the green gansey of The Team of Us on big-match days like this. Rural chaps whose first free-range introduction to the oval shape was while srummaging for still-warm, gick-spattered eggs in thick, scratchy hedges.
This select band of brothers, the statuesque among the Serfs are given the liberty to answer the call of the William Webb Ellis Island of West Britannia. Thus, these refugees from Jurassic Park of the Dinosaurs, these fossilized colossals fuelled with renewable energy are free to discard the sliotar and take up the Ballyfree-shaped ball and Garyowen to a life of glitter and twitter of the Big Hitter.
–Give me your huddled body masses.
Their selection is not based on any sentimental consideratons but for the novel move which they bring to the table mountain of shoulder-to-shoulder Boulder City, Oirland. They go through the phases of the play book of front row faces with the Look Neanderthal, the x-factored-in ingredient which is known to the logged-in cognoscenti as:
-The Boggers’s Duck Walk a la Chuck Berry from Londonderry down to the Kingdom of Kerry.
Boyo diversity, albeit of a restricted nature, is here to stay, the Lansdowned way. C’est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show, old chap, one can nevah, evah tell. Of course, there is the sartorial aspect which must not be discounted, or Sortorial as they say in Dortspeak
Rugby togs, after all, used to have pockets in them. The subliminatl suggestion here – and scorn not the subs, from them what wait on the sideline are often the benchmarch for success in the Twickenham trenches. Shrouds, like bogball togs, have no pockets.
Chief wag among its batallion of rib-tickling rugby correspondents in The Unionist Times, the droll stroller who doles out epigrams from the duffel bag of gags he carries about with him everywhere, including, nay, especially in the Land of the Risible Pun. Even as he distributes them while shuffling, unruffled. Let’s hear it for :
– Gerry ‘Gervaise’ Thornley !
He, who goes through the phases with a straight phase, oops, face of solemnity before suddenly spotting a gap in the wall, diving over the whitewash and dotting down with one of the truly great Dot.comedic one liners.
If it’s yawn-banishing laughter you’re after, GT is your only man. More stitches than an AE unit or the britches of Con the Shaughraun himself.
GT’s deadpan style is all his own.First of all he fronts up hugely with the straight-faced lines for the stooges:
-Perhaps most of all, bleatings about non-Irish born playes being picked ahead of Irish-born ones seem particulalry incongruous coming form this country. Is there anything more Irish than seeking a new life abroad ?
Along with the black stuff, our pubs and our breakfasts, it defines us.
(Little wonder as The Team of Us seems to be descended from those legendary big-bellied beefeaters;
–Na Fir Boilg.
Sainmhíníonn sin, muidne, na fíor Shinners.
Take the latter three selections of GT: the black stuff, our pubs and our breakfasts – and call them, lemme see – ah, yis !
-The Triple Crown of Thornley.
Bog no crua?Conas is fearr leat d’ubh
Cuma, fhad is’ bhionn sé Iomlán Dubh
Is fearrde Éire
Buann an leann dubh ar an lionndubh.
This shows that GT is his own man among men when it comes to a menu, as his namesake’s brother, i.e Bram, bro of Thornley Stoker, preferred a T-bone Steak through the heart, every time, but especially late at night.
Like the traditional Ulster fry thingy, loike? With its soda farls with scrum caps, potato pancake with jockstraps, fried eggs which still retain their oval shapes, Finnebrogue bacon, sausages and gnarled black pudding. Not forgetting (gulp) mushrooms. Great pastry, much room. Breakfast then to test the sturdiest of Brexit back stops. You would want to make sure your Ireland’s caul had been removed before lamping that lorryload of grub down your gob, Rob. Truly the Breakfast of Champions. Still, the drive for Fahrenheit 451 means the heat in the kitchen is stiffling and so, finding it difficult to digest the contents of The Uncle Tom Cookbook, this Reader at least must reluctantly brexit the breakfast of Belfast, and fast).
Back now to the back row of the still, straight-faced harlequin of the hundred grins, GT, who never fails to keep us in stitches re the funny bonus points on rugby pitches :
–In the current climate of rampant nationalism, ironically driven by the descendants of immigrants in America and Britain, it is dangerous territory. Be it poverty, war, famine, the economy or whatever, since 1700 between nine and 10 million people born in Ireland have migrated in search of better lives.
Most, an estimated 5 million, were accommodated in the United States, back in the days when their president and political leaders (see below) and political leaders had compassion in their souls and Amercia was a welcoming country.
If you have a shedload of tears of laughter to shed, dear indigestive Reader, prepare to shed them now: the hereafter can wait. Hold on to your flight goggles, bloggers, the next bit’s a real doozy:
–back in the day when their president and political leaders, Harry Truman especially, had compasion in their souls.
Eh ? Come again, Thorns.
– HARRY TRUMAN ESPECIALLY
Indeed, a la the chorus of Madame Butterfly, when the same caterpillar chorus line of sake-sated Nagasaki forgot the words, back in the day:
Could this be, erm, the same Harry Truman, the same good man and true, Harry the Hero of Hiro, after / for whom every w.c. in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are named in celebration of The Compassionate One, and thus:
Fir, for all good men and true, marked Harry; Mná, for all good women and true, marked, Harriet. Specially signposted thus to aid the caring Wearers of the Green Gansey to the Rugby W.C when they have to answer the, erm, Call of Nature.
Harry S Truman, of the Team of USA, to give him his full triple crown, the bespectacled boy of Missouri who started off his working life as a timekeeper on that most musical of railways. And about whom, it is said, as the first mushroom cloud / an chéad néal muisiriúin gathered over Japan, even as he sat in his (gasp) Oval Office that he was heard to (gulp) sing America’s Call to Harms :
(All aboard)! All aboard! (We came across the country, lickedy split) Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo I can’t believe I’m here at last Ooooooooooooooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo I can’t believe that anything could go so fast Then you pull that throttle whistle blows A huffin and a puffin and away she goes All aboard for Hirosh-i-ma On The Atchison On The Atchison, Topeka On The Atchison, Topeka, and
On The Atchinson, Topeka, and The Santa Fe.
From August 6 to August 9, 1945, Harry S Truman compassionately sat in his Corporate Box seat, refusing to desert his post in the (gulp redux) Oval Office, unflummoxed. Existing only on a diet which consisted entirely of warm bowls of soup. But what soup ! Soup which the punctual palates of the Souper Stars of Shoneenism could immediately identify with.
This railway line, so good they named it thrice, brings us back to yet another disputatious item, the third one this week.
-What exactly does the S in Harry S Truman stand for?
Luminaries like the two Abes, Lincoln and Shinzo, might well have differed on this one. For the checked fact is that Harry Truman was born plain HT with an S in the middle, especially one with no dot on its bum. He just woke up one morning and added the S on the dot of six.
Some, in the land of the Chrysanthemum, say curtly it stands for Sumo as in Sumo-sized Slaughterhouse 5-O. While some other from Uncle Sam-land and in TUT, but, plump for S for Saint. For what it’s worth The Perkin picks S for Soup.
Warm bowls of cream of mushroom soup so delicously creamy with tender bites of mushroom pieces. Full flavoured with compulsory garlic, onions and hebrs subtle enough to shine through and compliment the natural flavour of mushrooms without overpowering it.
On August 6, a B-29 benevolently dropped a uranium gun-type bomb (‘Little Boy’) on Hiroshima. Three days later, another B-29, dropped with emphatic empathy a plutonium implosion bomb (‘Fat Man’) on Nagasaki. In the process, dropkicking anything (who’s counting?) between 129,000 and 226,000 items of dulse and yellowman to Takamaghahama on High away from this Vale of Tears and the hundred thousand shocks and other schlock that the Flesh of Flashman is heir to.
Hail, Harry the hero of Hiro !.
Tabhair an mic don Mikado:
-Más ionann Fás Aon Oíche agus muisiriún, is ionann néal muisiriúin agus Bás Aon Oíche.
To conclude: how best to describe in oval-balled terms the mushroomate prequel to Nagasaki at Hiroshima ? In a way, perhaps, which adequately fits the absence of a, erm, Blitz Defence in both offensive locations?
One could do a lot worse than sip first from a-tonic glass of knee-slapping GT prose. Call it:
-The Captain’s Run
TUILLEADH LE TEACHT: TO BE CONTINUED.