Back from holidays. I’m grand. Yourself?
One thing I enjoy about getting back in harness is catching up on the correspondence. If you want a flavour of what’s piled up on the desk, try this.
12% of communications: Cori Gauff’s success at Wimbledon.
I was surprised by this, for the simple reason that I flicked off the WiFi button on my phone and until last Saturday I had no idea who Cori Gauff was.
This is what magazine writers spend 1,200 words describing as a digital detox, and what the rest of us call common sense. You’re on holidays: the anguished wailing across the internet is no loss. As I re-enacted The Likely Lads’ most famous episode in south Kerry, blissfully aware of all matters relating to Wimbledon, the great tournament passed me by completely. As a result I came back to find Ms Gauff a superstar, and more power to her: it’s a nice change to find someone’s fame a fait accompli.
There was a touch of the sudden discovery about the next issue as well, mind you.
27% of communications: Eoin Morgan’s nationality.
It shouldn’t be surprising, people’s ability to work themselves into what might charitably be called a bit of a tizzy over matters which never concerned them until that very moment they became THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE ON EARTH.
Morgan’s is a case in point. From this corner I thought most people who weren’t passionate cricket fans had a vague awareness of Morgan declaring for the England team. Winning the Cricket World Cup and trotting up to collect the trophy seemed to spark a bit of begrudgery, though why the casual sports fan should...
Actually, scratch that. The issue didn’t yet arise that someone couldn’t fake some performative annoyance over. Having seen Morgan in the flesh (cough), I say nice work to him: my only complaint is that he didn’t give it the old ‘Is mór an ónoir dom an corn seo a ghlacadh’ at the moment of triumph.
60%: The Tom Ryan statement on Peter McKenna.
Well, this wasn’t a surprise, particularly what you might call a slightly discouraging tone to a few of these communications. As in, ‘now there’s your answer, smart boy’, given I was the one who interviewed Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna before Christmas. Anyway, in a statement read out at the last Cork County Board meeting, the interview was described by GAA director-general Tom Ryan as ‘ill-advised and created a negative view of the stadium project’ as well as ‘incorrect and premature’.
In the interview, for instance, McKenna identified the need for the stadium pitch to be replaced. Within a couple of months — exhibit A, the Cork-Wexford league game — he was shown to be absolutely right, and the stadium won’t host Cork-Roscommon in the Super 8s because of that.
Other points made byMcKenna in December included the need for a strong board overseeing the stadium, for the naming rights of the stadium to be driven strongly, for the branding of the stadium to reflect Cork’s GAA heritage. So far nothing too ill-advised. As quite a few of my correspondents pointed out, of course, the current total for the redevelopment is not as high as the figure McKenna gave before Christmas.
The other way to look at that is this: If Peter McKenna hadn’t drawn attention to the vast overspend on Páirc Uí Chaoimh in December, would we have ever heard anything about it?
1%: Cork people giving out about John Horan’s comments about those on Leeside who are fans of both Gaelic football and hurling.
Wasn’t too sure what to make of this one: It was just a photograph of Teddy McCarthy. But I’ll be sure to pop it into the post for Croke Park.
Cycling down memory lane
Something that filtered through to me — even stunned as I was by the sun and a dozen Magnum Classics — was the Tour de France.
I was out and about and dropped into an establishment for a coffee and was surprised to see several people absolutely clung to the coverage on TV.
To judge by cycling’s appearances in the media in recent years, the vexed issue of doping dominates most discourse on the sport; on that basis it would hardly be a surprise to see interest in the Tour wane.
Then again, the several people were all men of a certain age, and their interest in the Tour is clearly connected to the dozens — hundreds, really — of men cycling the roads every weekend.
My only objection to their presence has less to do with them and more to do with the (inevitable) nutcase in a van who just has to overtake them, even though you’re coming in the opposite direction...
What might be interesting as an experiment would be to cross-check the ages of many of those middle-aged cyclists against the high summer of Messrs Kelly and Roche back in the eighties.
Were they kids in their late teens and early twenties captivated by the fuzzy images being beamed in from the south of France, sublimating their wishes to copy the great Irishmen of that time until the impulse broke through years later?
A cinematic classic turns 30 this year
As I mentioned the eighties, you may have noticed the growing sense of celebration about the 30th anniversary of the release of When Harry Met Sally, the greatest romantic comedy of all time.
(If you haven’t noticed, don’t worry. I noticed it for you.) Written by the peerless Nora Ephron, this movie remains the gold standard for witty repartee, not to mention two of the best sports-related movie scenes of all time.
One features Harry and Jess telling a pesky kid to get lost at the batting cages (“Little creep. Where was I?” “You were growing.”), but this is preceded by an even better scenario.
Billy and Jess are a New York Giants NFL game and Jess can’t believe the furniture movers knew something Billy didn’t: “You’re saying Mr Zero knew you were getting a divorce before you did?”
“Mr Zero knew.”
I don’t want to overstate matters but this is one of the true ornaments of western civilisation.
Unearthing a treasure on Valentia Island
Last weekend I was on Valentia Island — was that who I thought it was, driving past us in Knightstown, just off the ferry? — and went into the second-hand bookshop there.
While there I came across an old friend — Burr by Gore Vidal. I’ve bored for Ireland here about Gore’s greatness, from the script for Ben-Hur to those thundering political essays, but Burr must be one of the greatest historical novels of all time.
A little lighter than Lincoln, which he wrote later, and probably more relevant these days with the success of the musical Hamilton, in which Burr figures as an antihero (a ringing echo of Burr’s closing song in the show arrives late in the novel, when he muses, “ . . . I should have known the world was wide enough for Hamilton and me.”) In this book Burr is witty, subtle, funny, always perishing with the cold: Vidal’s greatest creation.
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