Frank Brandon’s Column

Beware…the ‘pen’ is still mightier than the sword!

Frank, who says he won’t ever sign up to social media, wonders why people share their innermost thoughts there…reports that he had a lucky escape with scam artists…and recalls how a neighbour used his loaf to check the loaf…


Life has changed dramatically during the almost seventy years that I have been present on this planet. It goes without saying that technology has altered the way in which we live our lives, but one of the developments that I can’t come to terms with is the constant need for people to put everything about themselves out there through social media. Why they have to tell everyone about their everyday activities and share their inner thoughts with total strangers is beyond me.

Now the first thing I must tell you is that I have absolutely no idea about the workings of social media – and you will not find me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or any other similar-type platforms – but one thing I do know is that putting their thoughts out into the public domain can so often come back to haunt people.

Three weeks or so ago, Pablo Matera, captain of the Argentinian rugby team, became a national hero when he led the Argies to their first ever victory over the All Blacks, a win that led to amazing celebrations amongst Argentinians all over the world.

In a country that was about to lose its all-time sporting hero with the untimely death of Diego Maradona, the win copperfastened Matera’s place as a genuine, authentic sporting legend, and should have led to a permanent place for him in the heart of all Argentinians. However, his bubble was about to burst very quickly, because within a week or two a couple of tweets that he had posted in 2011 and 2013, which I will not reproduce but which were described as racist and xenophobic, made their way into media outlets all over the world, leading to him being stripped of the captaincy of the national team and also missing last Saturday’s test match against Australia.

Now, in the meantime, he has apologised for his outburst, and the Rugby Union have reinstated him as captain, but no matter what way his rugby career goes from here, instead of being revered as the great rugby player and leader which he undoubtedly is, this man’s legacy will always be tainted by the content of ill-advised tweets which were posted when he was little more than a young lad.

However, as we all know, the written word can never be taken back. Closer to home, down the road in Laois-Offaly, TD Brian Stanley is another man who is under severe pressure over controversial tweets.

His tweets are all over the national media for the last week or two, so there is no need for me to delve into the contents, but I would definitely think that if he could turn back the clock he would never have put them up. He too, is busy apologising on all fronts, but, as with Pablo, is it too late?

Way back in 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote the immortal words ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. While we no longer use the pen as much now, the principle is still the same, so the message must be to think twice before you put anything out there, because once you do you can never take it back.


Checking the baking!

Not all of the huge changes that have taken place during my lifetime (see separate article) are in the area of technology.

Another big area that has encountered much change is that of health, safety and hygiene, etc. One of my brothers reminded me of an incident that took place in our own house back in the days of my very young childhood.

My mother, Mrs B, was blessed with a temperamental cooker. There was no way to control its temperature, so the dinner might be cooked in an hour – or maybe six. When it came to baking her wonderful brown bread, it was a matter of constantly checking to see what stage it was at.

One evening my mother and father were going out and the bread was still not done as she left the house. She had a babysitter in, who assured her that he – for it was a neighbouring bachelor – would look after it. Now this man had the blackest, dirtiest fingers (which wasn’t entirely unusual back then) you ever saw, but his method of checking the progress of the bread was to stick one of those fingers deep into the loaf to feel for moisture, etc.

By the time he declared it was fit for consumption, he had made ten fine incisions into our daily bread and it resembled a picture of the moon surface. However, the good news is it was absolutely beautiful, none of us had any allergic reaction, Mrs B was delighted with her infrequent evening out, and despite a slightly unusual taste, all was well that ended well.

I have to admit that if such a test were carried out on my present-day brown bread baking, the man might well be missing his blackened fingers, but it just goes to show how different even simple things were way back then.


Scam artists strike

We are always being warned about different scams and suchlike, and one of the golden rules is never ever to give details to anyone of your bank card or your bank accounts, or indeed anything to do with your finances. We’re told that if we get any messages or emails on your phone on such matters we should be very, very wary.

Now you would have thought that, with all the warnings, it would be very unlikely that I would get caught, but how wrong you would be – because last week I fell hook, line and sinker for a very simple scam.

Now the first thing I have to say is that I had nothing ordered online, in fact I don’t think I ever have, so when I got a message to say that the item was held up in UPS due to an outstanding customs bill of €1.50, I should have just ignored it.

However, being the idiot that I most certainly am, I wondered if it might be something one of my family had ordered, and so, without consulting with anyone, I followed the link, gave my card details and paid the €1.50.

Luckily, I was slightly suspicious, so I rang UPS, and they immediately confirmed that it was a scam, they had no parcel anywhere for me, and they told me to cancel my bank card straight away. I managed to do so before what little money I had in my account disappeared.

It just goes to show we must always be on our guard. I hope I have learned my lesson, but with me you never know. If you get any similar-type message, simply ignore it and do not do anything stupid. It is certainly an attempt to get at your hard-earned money.


Creggs GAA Club launches major draw

This week our local GAA club, Creggs, has announced an ambitious five-year facilities’ development plan which will see a huge range of improvements taking place on the present playing facilities, resulting in an excellent amenity and focal point for the parish and the community. The development will take place in three different phases.

To help with phase one the club is launching a major fundraising draw, with 15 prizes valued at €15,000 including a top cash prize of €5,000 plus loads of other valuable and varied prizes. Tickets are €20 each (€50 for three, or €100 for seven) and are available from now online at

The draw will take place on Easter Sunday, 4th April 2021, so if you can do so, please support this very worthwhile venture and give yourself a chance to win one of the fantastic prizes.


And finally…

Finally for this week, some sort of normality came back to the country last week when a number of businesses reopened their doors after being closed for the last six weeks.

Out here in Creggs, we had Mikeen back in business, and on Saturday evening I had a most wonderful steak dinner along with a pint or two of Guinness. It was great to be out again, even if circumstances were different.

I’m told that Joe Dolan is opening this week, so please God this time things might stay on an even keel, and hopefully there will be no more closures. In the meantime I wish all businesses well for the Christmas. Please support your local ones as well as you can.