Touchy, aren’t we?
A few people took offence at my quip last week that I was taking the Henry Kissinger line on the Iran-Iraq war regarding the Dublin-Kerry.
(Full disclosure if you’re not a political aphorism-truffler: Kissinger said of the conflict, ‘Ideally they’d both lose.’).
This lighthearted aside in no way reflects my love for the great counties of Kerry and Dublin.
I holiday in one of those counties every year and worked for almost a decade in the other, and if you can’t work out which was which, then enjoy your holiday in Ireland, cherished foreign visitor.
Anyway, like everyone else I have a personal history with Dublin and Kerry, even if it’s at a slight tangent.
I can recall the 1978 All-Ireland final between the sides, for instance, and my late father’s sudden need to bring the bacon and cabbage into the room with the television because — in my memory — that final had quite the build-up. The notion of winning the title of ‘team of the decade’ was around long before the noughties. I took particular notice of Kerry again in September 1982: yours truly was hanging around a relative’s house waiting for a bed to free up in the Mater ahead of an operation. I can remember the shock of that late Darby goal, certainly, and the spilling rain, though my immediate focus was the phone call from the hospital to come on in for the op.
It was truly a different time for traffic — we rolled in from south county Dublin in no time at all — but the fact that all the Kerry nurses were crying as I was being admitted is my strongest memory of the entire day.
I didn’t go down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh the following year for the Munster football final — there was a storm: Niall Cahalane told me years ago that the phone at his home in West Cork was blown off the wall during one rattle of thunder and lightning that day.
I did go to the All-Ireland semi-final replay that year when Dublin came to Cork, and my strongest memory of that is seeing Barney Rock trot into corner-forward, where he was followed by Jimmy Kerrigan, who had starred as a rampaging wing-back in the first game.
“That’s not good,” I said aloud when I saw that, and my dazzling insight was duly proved right.
Eight years ago I wasn’t in Croke Park for the football final, but I know precisely where I was: Waterford, at my in-laws’ house. For some reason everyone had gone out except me, so I was sitting on the couch with half an eye on some book or other and half an eye on the box and the entirety of my attention on where the Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers might be in the cupboards.
The book was no classic and neither was the game. When Kerry pushed four points up with the closing stages at hand I took decisive action, rousing myself to a search of the kitchen.
By the time I had a coffee made and a few Fingers ready for action and had settled myself back near the television, though, Stephen Cluxton was lining up the free-kick that would win the title for Dublin.
This is probably anathema to hardcore sports fans all over Ireland, I know. All I can tell you is that a) if there had been McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives out in the kitchen that day I would hardly have seen The Sunday Game Team of the Year that evening and b) I have a pack of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes facing a fitness test for Saturday night.
Eat your greens, you’ll thank me ...
Much obliged to the reader who got in touch about a new documentary, The Gamechangers, which can be seen from next week in cinemas, making extravagant claims about the sports-related benefits of chugging down vegetables instead of steak.
The inciting incident in this narrative appears to be a chap named James Wilks getting injured during his time as an MMA fighter: While recovering he discovered a study suggesting the gladiators of ancient Rome lived on a plant-based diet, so he investigates the benefits of same.
Fair enough. So far so good. The trailer was eye-catching, with appearances by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Jackie Chan, tennis star Novak Djokovic, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton are credited as co-producers.
Then I read a review which suggested some of the documentary is devoted to — how to put this delicately? — some other benefits of a plant-based diet. To wit, the conflation of the effects of Viagra with those of vegetables.
This in itself is not enough to disqualify a documentary from consideration by the general public, but it’s enough for me to stroll past the cinema and down to the burger shop. But do tell me what you thought of it, or at least the parts you could endure.
Passing of Williams a sad day for rugby
Very sad to see the passing of Chester Williams, the South African rugby player who featured in the 1995 World Cup final win over New Zealand.
People have pointed out that Williams isn’t the first of the participants to pass away. His teammates Joost Van Der Westhuizen, Ruben Kruger and Jamie Small have also died in recent years, as of course has the man Small opposed directly in that game, New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu.
An extraordinarily high toll, given the game was only played 24 years ago.
Lone Star State still shines bright for me
Many, many years ago your columnist sat on a plane to the States as a college student. A nice lady from Texas next to me asked what I was up to and - with no job set up for the summer - I asked what the work situation was like in the Lone Star state.
“Oh, honey, you couldn’t come to my town,” she said. “You’d be arrested as a vagrant and held until they figured out who you were.”
I remembered this when I picked up God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Future of America by Jeffrey Wright.
Once I put aside my deep jealousy of Wright for writing the book I wanted to convince some Irish publisher to fund for me, I really enjoyed it: Texas is everything you might have thought and then some, if Wright’s book is anything to go by. For instance, I didn’t realise Sam Houston’s shoulder wound, suffered in battle against Mexico, never fully healed or closed and had to be dressed daily for the rest of his life ...
Texas tacos and bacon & cabbage, firstname.lastname@example.org