Nightmare on Jones’ Road.
But, a mere two days on (as I write), I’m pretty much over it.
It was one of those days when hope and ‘horror show’ rhymed.
We travelled in hope, but everything possible went wrong.
When we spent 15 minutes trying to find a parking meter that actually worked, we should have known. One of those days. Portent of things to come. Found a machine and a queue of perplexed Rossies and Mayos. Two-hour limit. Grim faces as we ‘did the maths.’ Then a Mayo fan took control: “I met a Kerry man who said ‘get two two-hour tickets and put them on the car window and it’ll be fine’.” We all agreed that a Kerry man should know the score.
Now, the word is that there was free parking on Monday ‘cos it was a bank holiday. I don’t want my €6 back – they can use it towards putting up some ‘no charge on bank holidays’ signs!
When a bird made a small deposit on my jacket (seriously) in a crowded Dorset Street before the match, I should have known that it was likely to be another portent of things to come.
I went into Quinn’s to deal with the bird’s ‘delivery’ and the place was rocking with Rossies (and Mayos). It was still only 12.30.
Black Betty was belting out and it was like the 1980s all over again.
“Damn thing gone wild, bam-ba-lam” – another portent of things to come (from Mayo) perhaps.
In Quinn’s these days, they like to keep the fans moving towards the back, to free some ground for incoming thirsty folk. I watched as a tough looking bouncer who appeared to have poor enough English frowned as a middle-aged Mayo fan unwittingly blocked the main thoroughfare. Eventually the bouncer humourlessly gestured to the Mayo man to move over. The Mayo man nodded apologetically, which is precisely what I would have done, had I been challenged by the bouncer. The Mayo man had a craggy face, he was about 50, and he was in his element. He moved out of the way and the bouncer remained ungrateful and expressionless. All that mattered, it seemed, was that more customers could flood in. All over and done with? Nope. Suddenly, having made way for the flow of human traffic, the Mayo man waltzed back over to the bouncer, blocking people again, and said: “Ah, you know yourself…sure we love the craic when we’re out!”
Forty minutes on and we were seated in wonderful Croke Park, nervous but quietly confident. We had no idea there was a tsunami brewing.
Soon 6-0 down, we were despondent. Then Roscommon scored two points and hope briefly surfaced. Then the ruthless reality of this day flexed its muscles and hope retreated. Three quick Mayo goals, their fans rose into the air to claim their destiny and complete command of Croke Park on what we had expected to be a day of equals. We sunk back in our seats and into the uncomfortable bosom of our greatest fears.
By 3.40 or so it was over. A few days on, it feels okay, not the end of the world. We met a super team and we were caught on the hop (or two hops, in the case of Mayo’s first goal). No complaints. Best of luck to Mayo. Go and win Sam. You are exceptional warriors. And well done Roscommon on a great season. We’re Connacht champions and we can become a force in the next year or two. We can be warriors. We can make hope and Hyde rhyme.
One moment my American relation was scanning the menu, the next moment she was getting to the point.
“So Paul, have you seen our great new reality show?”
For a second I was actually trying to wrack my brain. New American thrillers I am reasonably familiar with, but a new reality show? Nothing was registering. Then, within a second or two, the dime dropped.
“Yes, we are watching it! Pretty chaotic!”
She was of course talking about Trump in the White House. We were having a bite to eat in The Brandywell in Dromod, now under new management, and as welcoming as ever. I don’t think my American aunt and her son (my cousin, also present with two of his children) will mind me outing them as MBTs (mortified by Trump).
How representative their views are of their fellow Americans, I can’t really say, though President Trump’s decreasing approval ratings suggest that he’s struggling to maintain momentum with the public post his stunning election triumph.
As for my relations, they are simply mortified/deeply embarrassed by what they see as the circus in the White House. Listening to good, decent Americans speak with actual shame of their ‘reality show’, you have to feel sympathy for them. Ordinary Americans – a majority anyway – feel a huge sense of embarrassment about Trump and his chaotic White House regime.
Now I know there is a counter-argument, and that some people see Trump, for all his eccentricities, as a breath of fresh air. But I can only report on my own little insight this week, this chat over Dinner. For the record, my American relations believe the soap opera/reality show is a huge embarrassment. They are counting on Trump being impeached and say he’ll be gone this time next year. When they put this endgame to me, I am sceptical, and suggest it won’t be that easy to impeach him. They are placing their faith in the Russian involvement in their election bringing the Donald down.
I can see that the conversation is depressing them, so we return to our menus and I change the subject. I begin to tell them about the exploits of the Roscommon footballers. My aunt (in America most of her life, but a native of Knockvicar, Boyle) asks “How can Roscommon be Connacht champions if they got beaten by Mayo yesterday?”
Wow. I really wasn’t expecting that. I calmly explain that we legitimately won Connacht and were then unfortunate enough to ‘draw’ Mayo later in the championship.
Could have done with Mayo being impeached, but I guess you need some grounds.
The new Mrs Brown(e)
The gifted Brendan O’Carroll (even his critics surely agree he is gifted?) cannot go on forever. He’s not quite as young as he used to be, and all that physical slapstick humour requires an awful lot of energy, not to mention a capacity to withstand bruises and bumps. Besides, with his money, why wouldn’t Brendan consider retirement some time soon?
Never fear! A worthy replacement has been unearthed. My good friend, Sean Browne, the charismatic Castlerea cameraman, has shown us another stunning string to his bow. At the Castlerea Rose Festival, Sean revealed a largely hidden talent – for all these years, he has been hiding his acting prowess. Sean appeared as ‘Mrs. Brown(e)’ and a damn good Mrs. Brown(e) he was too!
The nation can breathe again. If and when Brendan O’Carroll decides to hang up his apron, there’s a potential successor in Castlerea. From Hell’s Kitchen to Mrs. Brown’s kitchen. Only thing is, Sean could never do the effin and blinding. Not his style. But he’d still make a fair go at the comedy. And some would say the wig even suits him.