Paul Healy’s Week


Pat & Luke (again)

On his Newstalk morning show, Pat Kenny has just indicated that Professor Luke O’Neill will be joining him after the ad break to discuss ‘Covid in Japan’. Pat is obviously hinting that we should stay tuned, that we won’t want to miss this!

No disrespect to either man, but I’m going to switch channels at record speed. Unless Luke is coming on with his guitar, I’m not waiting around for more of that which we once lived with (in a grim Groundhog Day way), i.e. Pat Kenny and Professor Luke O’Neill endlessly talking Covid infections, injections and reflections. As teasers for what’s coming up after the break go, this leaves quite a bit to be desired!

I’d rather be stuck in a lift with Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy.


Need the kettle?

It’s bitterly cold. At 8.25 am, our car engine was spluttering like a veteran smoker who has shuffled from the bar counter to the doorway of his local to light another cigarette…while sagely pondering on life.

Earlier, I had opted for the windscreen defrosting technique which I gather is not recommended by experts, i.e. we boiled the kettle for a minute and then poured the hot water on the car windows. The words “Do we need the kettle?” are synonymous with frosty mornings. We’ve all done it!

It’s interesting how small things trigger memories of those who are no longer with us…how thawing the windscreen with water from the kettle brought back nostalgic memories of seeing my dad doing the same thing on frosty mornings long ago.

Finally, we joined the tapestry of cars on the school run. At Casey’s roundabout, a van driver impatiently beeped another van driver, just as ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ was belting out on Today FM, courtesy of the unceasingly chirpy Ian Dempsey.

That then was morning one of what we are assured will be a bitterly cold spell. Taking refuge in the office, I note that Mount Dillon in County Roscommon is yet again claiming headlines when it comes to weather news: at -7C, it had the lowest temperature in the country at 8 am this morning.



Kane’s strain

The pressure got to Harry. I could see it in his eyes. He had too long to think, the world (well, all of England at least) on his shoulders. A World Cup quarter-final, world champions France 2-1 up on the latest English ‘golden generation’. Incredible tension. Could England take the game to extra-time and possibly navigate their way one step closer to finally emulating the heroes of 1966?

England had played very well, particularly in the second half. Now, after a VAR check, a second penalty, a chance to make it 2-2. All eyes on Harry. Harry Kane, so often clinical for England and Spurs. His earlier penalty had been perfection. But the stakes felt so much higher…four minutes to go, the world in his ears, his head, his mind.

The pressure won, Harry’s strike sailed over the bar. Where does it leave England? They have some superb young players, but their story is one of decades-long underachievement. Or maybe it’s an epic story of misplaced confidence/arrogance. It’s compelling, this drama of twists, turns and no silverware. We Irish, of course, have a complex relationship with this epic story. Personally, if the arrogance dial was turned down a little, I think I could live with our neighbours – the players we support in the Premier League every week – winning a tournament. For now, the quest to ‘bring football home’ goes on.



Market movers…

Congratulations to all involved with this weekend’s Christmas Festival in Roscommon. There was a lovely atmosphere in the beautiful new Square, with enticing, colourful stalls showcasing some fabulous local products. The festival/market brought a nice buzz to the town centre, and it was great to see so many people out and about.



A glow blow…

This ‘cold spell’ is really bearing its teeth now. Minus 7 was recorded overnight again – and it’s forecast to get colder.

On RTE’s Morning Ireland, Met Éireann’s Gerry Murphy wasn’t sparing the verys: “It’s very foggy, very frosty, very icy” he revealed. Very true.

At 10.30 am, I went for a short walk, and it was absolutely freezing! “It’s lovely” a friend said on the phone, and he’s right on one level, because it’s dry, crisp, and very atmospheric for this time of year. But the freezing temperatures can lead to burst pipes, traffic chaos and further hardship for people.

I’ve avoided using the kettle to defrost the car in recent days (see ‘Friday’). Mind you, our car wouldn’t start at all at one stage, not even when I administered the full jump leads treatment. Luckily, my brother-in-law visited last night, and worked some magic, after establishing that one or two glow plugs were on the blink. This was very educational for me, in that I now know what a glow plug is.

By the way, all credit to Santa Claus, who got to Ballyleague and Roscommon (on his sleigh) over the weekend, this despite the extremely frosty weather. It augurs well for Christmas Eve!



Avoiding the score!

I had to take on the dreaded ‘Record the match and try to avoid the score’ challenge this evening. It’s not easy. The game was the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Croatia. The trick, to have any hope of watching the recording of the game after it has ended – without the experience being largely spoilt by someone or something revealing the score to you – is to avoid all devices while it’s on live…and all humans too.

But I had to meet a friendly tradesman at the office at 8.30 pm (the game now into the second half). Obviously I wouldn’t be making any World Cup small talk. He breezed in. Then I heard Darragh Maloney’s voice…commentating on the game. It was coming from the tradesman’s phone (in his pocket). Disaster. But then he stooped down to check the item we needed him to check…bumped into something, and miraculously that switched the commentary off!

A close call. Later, unaware of the final score, I enjoyed the recording…and watched Messi lead Argentina into this Sunday’s World Cup Final.