Frank Brandon’s Column

Getting ‘unusual Dutchman’ Ludovic to his ‘lady artist’ was a challenge!


Just when we needed cheering up, our man in Creggs takes us on a mysterious tour involving a dishwasher, an eccentric Dutchman (with clogs, of course) and an English ‘lady artist’…



On New Year’s Day our dishwasher went on the blink, and today (Sunday, January 17th) we are still waiting for the engineer to come to sort it out. For me, the amazing thing is that I have concluded that dishwashers aren’t what they are cracked up to be; in my opinion (although not Carol’s), we are just as well off without one.

For some reason, we rinse everything ‘till they are almost spotless before we put them into the dishwasher at all, which sort of defeats the purpose of having one, because the dishes are as good as washed by the time they finally go in. Presently, we are washing and drying them ourselves, and I think we are doing it quicker and better than any dishwasher. So if the engineer never gets here, I won’t be too upset.

All of that made me think of the first ever dishwasher that I bought – a Zanussi one I brought home from England in the 1980s – one that, unlike the modern ones, lasted for more than twenty years. At the time, I was bringing second-hand furniture home from England, and on that particular trip I had bought the new machine. It was a good deal cheaper than they cost in Ireland, and as there was a bit of duty (unpaid) due on it, I had it at the very front of the load. To my horror, the customs officers in Monaghan started to take off the load to check that everything matched what was on the invoice. I could see them confiscating my brand new Zanussi, which, of course, was not on the list, when all of a sudden, just as they came to the last few items, they decided they had seen enough and my dishwasher was safe and allowed to continue its journey home to Creggs.

On that same trip, my brother-in-law Raph was doing the driving, and we did a removal from down the road to a little village in England. An unusual Dutchman called Ludovic, who was about six foot six inches tall, rode a huge elongated bicycle around the place, wore wooden clogs instead of shoes, and who looked a bit like Fagin in Oliver, had bought a place down the road and was now moving over to England. He had met and fallen for a kindred spirit, an English lady artist. And so, on one of the coldest nights of all time, we loaded up all his belongings – including his trusty (and rusty) bicycle – and headed for the Rosslare ferry.

For some reason known only to Ludovic, he refused to sit up front in the cab with Raph and I. Instead, he lay down in the back of the truck, wrapped in a bit of blanket. By the time we reached Rosslare he was almost frozen solid and lucky to be still alive, and had decided that the only way to thaw out was to run around the full truck carpark.

I can still see this six foot six inch Fagin lookalike running around in his noisy wooden clogs, flapping his hands like a demented chicken, flying in and out between lorries, doing what looked like starjumps as the amazed lorry drivers looked on in total bewilderment, unable to believe what they were seeing, until finally he declared that he was warmed up. Obviously he had had enough of the freezing back of the truck, and so he gave in and joined us in the cab for the rest of the journey – mind you it wasn’t red-hot there either, but at least there was some type of a heater in it and the three of us managed to keep each other warm.

It was one of those trips, because when we finally reached his lady friend’s house it was after three o’clock in the morning, and as we were in the middle of unloading Ludovic’s belongings, someone must have thought we were removing stuff from the girl’s house, because the next thing the police arrived and we had to explain our reasons for being where we were. It took us a while, because two Irishmen and a strange Dutchman were not what the police expected to find in a sleepy English village at three or four in the morning.

Thankfully it all got sorted out – Ludovic started a new life with his artist girlfriend, and we were eventually allowed to finish our journey, and my Zanussi dishwasher made it safely home. What became of Ludovic I have no idea, but I will never forget his departure from Creggs.


Niall (who?) finally calls it a day!

The GAA world has recently seen a large number of high profile retirements, with several well-known Mayo footballers, a few Kerry lads, one or two Dubs, Galway’s Gareth Bradshaw, and Kilkenny hurler, Ger Aylward, among others, announcing their intentions to pack it in. But the announcement from former Offaly panellist, Niall Geraghty, brought some light relief to the whole subject. Geraghty had made two sub appearances in 2014 and 2015, and had a couple of league outings, and obviously had disappeared off the Offaly radar, so his announcement that he was calling it a day was very funny. He thanked the fans for standing by him, “literally, because I was on the bench on the terrace side”.

While acknowledging that a lot of top class players were included in the recent announcements, all of whom have given great service to their counties – and great enjoyment to their many supporters – I have to say that Niall Geraghty’s announcement got enormous attention and puts him right up there with all the big stars, so I wish him well in whatever the future brings.


Jasper the dog is still fond of the pipe!

We have always been told that a dog is man’s best friend and I have no reason to think that is in any way untrue, but until a few years ago, down the road in Glinsk, Padraig Sirr and his King Charles spaniel Jasper used to prove it in a very unusual way – they used to smoke their pipes together (for animal lovers, Jasper’s pipe was empty, but he still loved to have a few puffs).

Padraig was then diagnosed with diabetes and had to give up smoking his pipe, but the good news is that Jasper is still puffing away, and in Padraig’s words, is “never happier than when he has his pipe in his mouth”. At a time when dogs can be trained to do all kinds of amazing tricks, Padraig is convinced that if he had the time to train him Jasper could have been a telly sensation.

As it is, he is still happily puffing away on his pipe (I wonder has he his own slippers?), and more importantly, he is still there to have his daily chat with his proud owner. Long may he continue to enjoy his pipe – he must be the only living being in Ireland who is being encouraged to keep ‘smoking’.


And finally…

Finally for this week – out here in Creggs, the local national school, with the support of the Parents’ Association, has set up a family-friendly fundraiser to raise much-needed money for the school. They invite everyone to do the equivalent of a marathon, 26.2 miles or 42.19km, each week for four weeks, and in their words you can run, walk, cycle or crawl (don’t think you can drive it). You can be fairly flexible in your efforts to achieve your target. Please ensure you stay within 5 km of your own home.

The main thing is, if you can join them, they suggest a donation of €26 (a euro a mile), which would be greatly appreciated. There is a GoFundMe page, Creggs NS Marathon fundraiser, so you can get on that to make your contribution – there won’t be anyone checking your mileage or anything like that, but it is a chance to get in a bit of exercise, appreciate the lovely fresh air and have a bit of craic.

It all kicked off on Monday the 18th, and as time goes on you can share your photos of your efforts on the Creggs NS Parents Association page. If things go well, don’t be surprised if you see me in the Tokyo Olympics!