Sky’s the limit now…but I miss the innocent entertainment of the past

It’s Friday night and I’ve made it home from a long day at work to face what looks like being a monumental crisis. Our television – fully licensed, just in case you are wondering – is on strike and no matter how many buttons we press on the remote control and no matter how many times I curse the weather, Sky TV or anything else, all we have is a bright blue screen with absolutely nothing on it and no movement whatsoever.

  Now most times I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at having no telly, as in fairness there’s not that much on it anyway – despite having thousands of channels – and I am certainly no great fan of the Late Late, but this weekend we looked forward to so much sport that to be deprived of the box would be a disaster of biblical proportions. So after frantic calls to everyone and anyone who knew nothing at all about televisions, I finally decided to put a call through to Sky and a lovely-mannered lady told me not to worry; it sounded like we needed to update our software.

  Now when I heard that, I thought we wouldn’t have reception back for ages, but no, she said, they – Sky – would do that and it should only take ten or so minutes. I got my daughter Tara to listen to the instructions, because anything like that might as well be French to me – and sure enough, 10 or so minutes later, the emergency had been averted and normality came back to our little Friday night household. And it all reminded me of a few weeks earlier, when the whole world nearly ended because the internet yoke wouldn’t work, and I sadly realised that we are now totally dependant on electronic gadgets for our entertainment and the ability to create our own fun is almost obsolete.

  God be with the days of card games, which regularly brought neighbours together to eachothers’ houses for games of 25, 45 or poker, and which in places were weekly events. I’ve told you before of my young days, staying in my uncle Michael’s house in Tipperary, and every Monday night a group of five or six local people would meet in his home for a game of cards and there would be a break for tea and sandwiches. For those people, it was their big social outing of the week.

  Sadly all that is gone, as is the fun of board games, like ludo, snakes & ladders, draughts and chess – and more is the pity. We all have mobile phones with everything on them, we have tablets, computers, laptops, Xboxes and the like, and before we know it, the art of conversation will be completely gone and all we will hear in our houses will be the sound of silence.

Post offices and the people

In at least two rural communities a long way apart, Laragh in Co. Wicklow and Aughavas in Co. Leitrim, the folks are up in arms at the closure of their village post offices. Both have closed after the retirements of their respective postmistresses and both communities are devastated at their loss.

  Now I obviously know nothing about their particular circumstances, but I do know that every time something like this happens, we are told that rural post offices will continue to close if people don’t support them. That’s the bottom line – we, the rural dwellers, must use our local post offices or, like young love, last year’s snow or a thief in the night, they will be gone and we will all give out and not even realise we ourselves were to blame. 

Super Super Bowl

Talking of sporting fairytales (see Leicester, elsewhere in this week’s column) and the Super Bowl, which I have no interest at all in and which I have never stayed up late to look at (in fact I never looked at it at all), produced one of the greatest, if not the greatest sporting comebacks of all time when the New England Patriots beat Atlanta Falcons by 34 points to 28, after being 28 to 3 down almost three-quarters through the game.

  As I say, American Football does nothing for me, but it’s still a great achievement to pull a game out of the bag from so far behind. What a pity our rugby lads couldn’t do the same from a somewhat similar position.

Serve yourself (I’m watching the rugby)

On a busy sporting weekend, obviously the major disappointment was the defeat of the national rugby team by Scotland. We now have a lot to do to make up for lost ground and I am quietly confident that we will rebound from that defeat and that we will be involved in the final shake-up when the championship comes to a close in six or so weeks.

  For the first time ever, my son Paul fixed it up that I could watch the Scottish game on my Samsung tablet and I have to say that, result apart, it was great to be able to see it. For the few people who came into the shop on Saturday evening, it was almost self-service as they got very little help or attention from yours truly while the game was on.

A lament for Leicester

On Sunday after a few quiet and not so quiet Saturday night pints in Mikeen’s, I decided to have a doss day and to more or less do nothing at all. I spent the afternoon watching an awful rugby match in Rome between Wales and Italy, and then I tuned in to see Man. Utd. beat an increasingly dispirited looking Leicester City. Their amazing Premiership winning season of last year seems to have left an enormous hangover and if they are not careful they could very well get relegated, which would be a very sad end to one of the greatest sporting fairytales of all time.

A true gentleman

Finally for this week, our little community in Crosswell, near the parish Church in
Creggs, was devastated with the death over the weekend of Paddy Doyle, a man who could only be described as a true gentleman and about whom I never heard a bad word said.

  Paddy was a quiet man and yet when you would meet him, he would always be good for a chat and he liked nothing more than a couple of quiet pints.

  He loved his farming life and while he didn’t bother with a car, he was a familiar figure in our neighbourhood as he drove to the local towns in his blue Ford tractor. The best thing I can say is that Paddy was the salt of the earth and will be sadly missed. To Mary his sister, Michael his brother and his extended family and friends, I extend my sincere sympathy. May he rest in peace.

‘Till next week, bye for now!