Networking, Boris, The Dubs and Kilkenny…



Crossed wires

All morning, I had thought my mobile phone might be playing up (turns out it was just a dire signal in Abbey Street).

  So I rang Vodafone, off the landline. The ‘computer’ gave me four options. I pressed button 2.

  A human answered. Completely forgetting that I pay by direct debit now, I ventured that the bill might be outstanding. That might explain why my texts were stubbornly refusing to budge. Had my service been cheekily suspended?

  The man excitedly switched me…back to the computer.

  The computer informed me that I owed €153. I was surprised, but went to make a credit card payment for the full amount.

  The computer waited while I keyed in the relevant numbers. Then the computer said ‘Sorry, technical difficulty’ and switched me back to a human.

  But not before I was on hold for two minutes, listening to some loud and silly music.

  A man came on the phone and asked me what the problem was. I explained that I thought I might owe a few bob, that the computer had informed me it was actually €153, that I had attempted to pay, and now an unexplained technical difficulty had arisen.

  The man, when faced with a problem, in the great tradition of men…switched me to a woman.

  On checking, the woman informed me that I in fact owed nothing…€53 (not €153) had been due by the 23rd, and it had been paid by direct debit. This was Monday, the 24th. That reminded me that I am on direct debit!

  Now I had the upperhand. “But the computer just tried to take €153 off me a few minutes ago”, I said to the woman. (I made it easy for her, adding that the computer had referred to technical difficulties).

  She saw an opening. “Well” she said, without missing a beat, “I know we had some technical difficulties earlier today…but I thought they had been resolved”.

  Mmnn. I asked if there was any fear of the payment (for €153, that I had stupidly tried to make) going through.

  “Oh no, that won’t happen” she answered, very quickly. “Not when it said ‘technical difficulties’”.

  So we’re sorted, I said, worn down by the numbing silliness of it all. “Yes” the woman answered, “have a nice morning”.

  I don’t know what became of the money-grabbing computer. Probably on a tea-break, scheming.

Having a laugh…

I know Brexit is a bit of a circus, I know Boris is…shall, we say, colourful…so I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

  But I just feel that our media sometimes adopts a sneering, disrespectful tone when interviewing UK guests about the ongoing chaos across the water.

  I mean, it’s one thing for the man and woman in the street to roll their eyes and express amusement/disdain over the ongoing Brexit saga, but a little more decorum and respect from some of our media personnel is surely desirable.

  After all, when Ireland was depicted in stereotypical ‘bejasus’ terms in Eastenders many years ago, there was uproar here. Likewise, we get very sensitive just about any time anyone across the Irish Sea says anything negative about us.

  Yet, respected media folk here think it’s okay when interviewing UK guests to scoff and poke at the likely rise of Boris and the ongoing Brexit drama. The excellent Jonathan Healy, by no means the only one prone to it (Pat Kenny and others too), couldn’t contain himself when interviewing former Tory Minister Edwina Currie on Tuesday. Our man in Newstalk was out of the traps straight away, letting Ms. Currie know just how farcical we think it all is. Boris was a buffoon, the Conservative leadership race was a circus, Boris as PM will have no business going back to Brussels looking for a new deal, etc.

  Maybe we should be a bit more respectful and allow our neighbours to sort out a party leadership race and ensuing Brexit process without bellylaughing in their faces?

Maybe I was dreaming…

 I hate it when the telly doesn’t work.

  When I turned the television on the other day, there was no sign of Marty Morrissey – or of Mary Kennedy either. I frantically channel-hopped, but the grim reality continued to manifest itself. There were programmes on about rural life, sport, house makeovers, gardens, reality shows, pets, music and culture – but not a single sign of Marty or Mary.

  I dropped the television into the TV repair man and he promised to investigate this extraordinary, inexplicable malfunction…

When you win 14 out of 15…

In extraordinary scenes, Dublin fans did not invade the pitch following their side’s er…thrilling Leinster Senior Football Final win on Sunday.

  Crowds of esctatic young (and not so young) Dublin fans did not rush from the sideline into the centre circle and joyously celebrate the nine-in-a-row. The referee did not have to wave them off, with furrowed brow.

  A GAA spokesperson said: “We can’t have this, we will be launching an immediate investigation”.


Who put the ball in the Kilkenny shop window?


Kilkenny is a great place to visit. 

  I was there on Friday night for a family social occasion, an informal one.

  The Marble City never lets you down. It crackles with atmosphere. The place was teeming with tourists. The streets are quaint, intimate, colourful. Everyone is friendly. Side streets hint at the prospect of more variety, more quirkiness. Everywhere you go, there are reminders of Kilkenny’s status as hurling royalty. Photographs, memorabilia, souvenirs, boys walking down the street with hurl and sliothar in hand, like we’ve sleepwalked into some sort of promotional GAA film.

  We had a nice bite to eat in the Langton House Hotel, followed by another stroll through the streets, then a night sampling the local bars. During our walk, a mysterious sighting: we were intrigued to spot, in a shop window, a ‘Roscommon football’ (pictured). It was the only football in that window; the shop was closed…the mystery remained unsolved. So, GAA-wise, the Cats and the Rossies ruled in the Marble City last Friday night.

  The pubs in Kilkenny are great…most of them are dark (as in dimly lit), character-filled, places which are rich in heritage, history, personality. Antiques and hurleys and odd things dangle from the walls. In one bar (‘The Field’) there’s a 16 foot long hurley hanging from the ceiling. Everywhere, there is music…live music…the city swaying to a welcoming, friendly beat. Locals, some of them with weather-beaten faces, others young and vibrant, mingle easily with delighted, captivated tourists in a flurry of talk, laughter and song. In one bar, a man who looked (and dressed, honestly) like Abraham Lincoln, provided great entertainment, with his guitar, good singing voice and ready banter.

  At the end of a longish night…a man looked like Mick Galwey, because he was Mick Galwey. The former Munster and Ireland rugby star was having a pint with friends. Chatting to him for a few minutes, I found Mick to be a modest gentleman (he confirmed he was well aware of Creggs RFC). Galwey, while the holder of an All-Ireland senior football medal with Kerry (1986), is actually resident in Kilkenny for over 20 years. 

  Next day (Saturday) I walked for ages through Kilkenny’s streets, browsing in a couple of book stores, a coffee here, a coffee there, and the mandatory walk to the impressive Kilkenny Castle grounds. There were tourists everywhere in this buzzing city.

  By 5.30 pm or so, the local musicians were beginning to ghost back into the bars with their guitar cases. The restaurants were getting busy. So-called ‘hens’ and ‘stags’ were getting ready to party. In our hotel, about a dozen Dublin men, ranging in age from 30-ish to 70-ish, were having great craic. A few checked the horses in The Star, as the rolling news on Sky Sports updated us on Boris Johnson’s not so private private life. The sun was shining on the Marble City. It was time for me to head to Roscommon, with a few books and a souvenir ‘Cats’ sliothar. Along the pavements, tourists rolled their suitcases towards hotel lobbies, and behind me, vibrant, friendly Kilkenny was ready for another busy Saturday night.