‘Percy French and I looked at one another in despair’



In the rugby, England were merciless and marvellous against France at Twickenham on Sunday. Ireland went to Murrayfield and defeated the Scots, which is always a worthy enough achievement. But Ireland are not particularly convincing at the moment…we’re ponderous, whereas England are like some type of rugby version of Mike Tyson…charging at the opposition with frenzied pace and power and confidence.

  Mind you, the French were shockingly bad…some of their team plodding along like hungover middle-aged men going through the motions on a village green.

  To the GAA…and when I was growing up, I was often told of how, back in the days before television, all over Ireland neighbours would gather in whatever house had a ‘transistor radio’ in order to listen to Michael O’Hehir’s match commentary.

  I didn’t get to the Roscommon/Tyrone game last Sunday (due to a family gathering). Over a very nice lunch in the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown, we followed the game on Twitter (which is what reminded me of those ‘all around the transitor’ tales of long ago. Following a game on Twitter is a great option, but pretty frustrating too. Waiting (and wondering) while the score updates pop up on your phone can be torture.

  With a few minutes to go, the waiting became too much for me, so I headed for privacy in the lobby. I sat under a portrait of Percy French and tuned into Willie’s commentary. Last minute, sides level! A free in for Roscommon! But then, drama as the referee cancelled that likely match-winning free and instead, threw the ball up. A draw! Percy French and I looked at one another in despair. The combined powers of the players, Twitter, Willie Hegarty and the spirit of Percy French had fallen just short of inspiring another great win; still, it was another very encouraging performance by Roscommon.


Looking for great comedy? Try these…



Great comedy more often than not looks simple, but is in fact born of subtlety, intelligence, skill, timing.

  Too often in the modern era, what passes for comedy is laziness…a shadow of actual comedy…with those involved often relying on vulgarity, crassness, stupidity, even cruelty. These ‘shock tactics’, called upon partly because it’s now a tried and trusted formula – and often engaged in order to compensate for the performer’s lack of imagination – sadly seem to satisfy 21st century audiences.

  I mean, is Jimmy Carr actually funny?

  And while I appreciate that times obviously change, I think much of today’s shallow comedy is quite simply a reflection of the general lowering of standards in society. When it comes to movies, the race to the bottom (of the barrel) is very often the crude approach favoured by writers and producers. There are of course many exceptions. There are still ‘funny’ movies, and currently there are some excellent and clever (mostly American) sit-coms. Likewise, when it comes to stand-up comedy, there’s a fair bit of quality around, but also a lot of offensive rubbish!

  I was reminded of how, well…great…great comedy can be when we went to see ‘Stan & Ollie’ in C&L Plex, Roscommon recently. My absolute heroes from that era are the Marx Brothers, for whom the word ‘genius’ might have been invented. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were quite brilliant too.

  When I was a kid, their short movies were on television regularly. It was an era before multi-channel television, Youtube, Netflix…in fact for many years we only had two channels. While ‘Laurel & Hardy’ was scheduled quite often, it was also ‘first sub’ when, as seemed to happen quite often, there was a break in scheduled programming. For example, a race meeting or football match might be snowed off, a live event might finish earlier than expected, or a link to such an event might be lost. In which case, Continuity Announcer takes over: ‘A technical problem has arisen. While we try to restore our link…here’s Laurel & Hardy….’

  At such times, children of the nation suddenly felt like it was Christmas Eve. 

  The story of Stan and Ollie, delightfully told in the movie (great performances by the cast), is very touching. On screen, Stan was the idiotic one; in ‘real life’ he was the ‘brains’ behind the duo, which is not for one moment to underestimate the role of Hardy. Stan Laurel conceived many of the golden moments the double act created on screen. Through great career peaks and some lows, Laurel and Hardy remained inseparable.

  ‘Stan & Ollie’ is poignant, touching and heartwarming – a lovely, nostalgic flashback to the careers of probably the most famous comedy partnership of all time. If you are not familiar with the great body of work of Laurel & Hardy, you might like to check them out on Youtube. And while you are at it, check out the amazing Marx Brothers too.

  Meanwhile, if you want smart-assed, smug, belittling, crude and offensive ‘comedy substitute’, then reach for that remote control and you won’t be waiting long…