Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Are You Smart Enough to Play Professional Football in the NFL?

Vince YoungMeet Vince Young. Vince Young was quarterback of the Texas Longhorns team that stunned the University of Southern California in this year's Rose Bowl in January, becoming National Collegiate Champions for the first time since 1969. It was pretty much a one-man show from Young that led the Longhorns to the title, and it so enraptured the US football public that all of a sudden Reggie Bush, the USC halfback who was the automatic first pick in this year's NFL draft, wasn't so automatic a choice anymore. The Vince Young Era had arrived.

And now, all of sudden, it seems the Vince Young Era is over, and Shakespeare was correct in his postulation about all that glisters not being gold.

Last week saw the NFL scouting combine, which is the event where the great and good of the National Football League get all the aspirant talent together, and put them through their paces. If you remember the hiring fairs of your history books, you're half-way there to understand the notion of the scouting combine.

Vince Young's reputation sank like a stone at the Combine, and hit bottom this weekend when reports emerged of Vince having done particularly badly at the Wonderlic, which is the test that the NFL administers to see how intelligent - or otherwise - a prospect is. Now, let's remember that Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson of the Dallas Cowboys once said that Pittsburgh's then quarterback Terry Bradshaw was so dumb "he couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a.'" Bradshaw went on to throw four touchdowns against Henderson's Dallas in Super Bowl XIII, the third of the four Super Bowls Pittsburgh would win a six year stretch, and Bradshaw is now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the greatest ever to play the game. So, being smart enough to play football in the NFL isn't really the same as being smart enough to sit in the Chair of Philosophy at Heidelburg University.

Even allowing for that, Vince still looks a like a bust. The Houston Chronicle first reported that Young had scored 6 out of a possible 50 on his Wonderlic test, which is just shocking. The Young camp were very annoyed about this, and are now claiming that he re-sat the test and scored sixteen. Of course, 16 out of fifty, 32%, isn't a great score either, but the Young camp are then inclined to mutter that the test is "culturally biased," and leave it at that. Race pervades sports in America, as the great big elephant in the room of which nobody may speak.

But An Spailpín Fánach is nothing if not intellectually curious, and as such nothing would do me but to see if I could find this Wonderlic test online somewhere, and see how bad it is. As it turns out, Wonderlic guard their copyright jealously, and do not care for the prying eyes of the outside world. However, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports has found a similar test, from the Canada Revenue Agency. So click here and scroll down, to see if you can do better than College graduate, Vince Young, in this aptitude test.

It says a lot about the world and how it turns, doesn't it?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Green above the Red

It is with no small sense of unease and disquiet, that same unease that we get when we feel someone is walking on one’s grave, that An Spailpín Fánach reads the latest bull from Seán Feeney, the secretary of the Mayo County Board.

Patrons at Mayo matches will have noticed that the Mayo team have been wearing the predominantly red, “away,” jersey in a lot of games this year – against Roscommon in the FBD League, and against Kerry and Offaly in the National League, to name but three instances. An Spailpín Fánach has watched many games between Roscommon and Mayo and never before have Mayo had to change strips. So what’s going on?

The Hogan Stand quotes Feeney on the matter, as shall An Spailpín Fánach:

“Because we’d have to change three times, we felt we’d stick with the red so that the players get used to it and get into a routine – that’s very important. When you’re playing under lights or on a wet day, a predominantly green jersey can be hard to pick out. Furthermore, scientific evidence shows that red jerseys are easier to pick out against the grass.”

Let’s have that last sentence one more time, to be sure, to be sure: “scientific evidence shows that red jerseys are easier to pick out against the grass.”

Scientific evidence, a Rúnaí? Who are these “scientists” who came up with this scientific evidence? Was it, by any chance, Dr Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker? Because I don’t see for one second how anyone higher on the food chain could come up with such a statement. You need to go down a few phyla to find that level of science – all the way down to whatever phylum it is where an animal’s mouth is one and the same with its arse.

“Easier to pick out against the grass”? They must be letting their paddocks run wild in Mr Feeney’s part of the world where the grass is at the level of a grown man’s chest. And how well this absence of red in the jersey hasn’t held back Kerry from winning 33 All-Ireland titles, and counting? What are these people trying to pull?

The kindest suggestion I’ve heard is that the Board have a stockpile of the red jerseys in some warehouse somewhere, and are eager to get shot of the things. That’s reasonable insofar as it goes. What is disturbing is the fear – so far denied by the Board – that the old green above the red design is to be abandoned for the Championship, and for good and always.

It is hard to describe just how calamitous a decision this would be. The Green above the Red is one of surprisingly few distinct county strips in the country. I don’t think Kilkenny will be swapping the black and amber anytime soon, so I don’t see why Mayo should either. Mayo have a long and proud football tradition and the jersey is part of that. The Green above the Red is associated with Mayo people, that dream deoraithe, where-ever in the world they roam, irrespective of how far they are from the heather of their native heath. It’s so much a part of the Mayo identity that the Sawdoctors immortalised it in song, and no greater tribute can there be than that from the enemy. It was only Mark Antony that could call Brutus the greatest Roman of them all, and thus it was only men from Tuam, the beating heart of Galway football, that could immortalise what those proud colours mean.

The positioning of the stripes of the jersey is by no means an accident – it goes back to the very foundation of the GAA itself, and one of the first ever recorded games of football in the county Mayo.

Colonel Maurice Blake of Towerhill was a landlord in South Mayo, and patron of his local football team, Carnacon. When Carnacon played Belcarra in 1887, Colonel Blake saw the chance to make a political point – Blake was a Catholic, and Belcarra were sponsored by a local Protestant, Unionist, family, the Brownes. In the light of this, Colonel Blake insisted that Carnacon line out in strips that featured Green above Red, in reference to Dr Croke’s fear, expressed his famous letter to Michael Cusack, that if the Irish did not stand up to express their nationality, we might all just as well “clap hands for joy at the sight of the Union Jack, and place 'England's bloody red' exultantly above the green.”

And that is why Mayo have always worn the green above the red, and always must, if they are to mean anything at all. Willie Joe, in the photo above, is seen wearing red above the green, but only because its his own red blood that he spilled for cause on that famous day in 1989. Not because he had product to flog, or some half-witted motivational theory to live up to either. Maigh Eo abú.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Riot in Dublin

Early reports on today's infamous riot in Dublin's city centre suggest that it began as a protest against the proposed march through the city by the Love Ulster group. It was a protest organised by what Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe described as "micro republican groups" that just got out of hand. The AP report of the incident, the report that will inform the majority of the planet of what happened today in Dublin, suggests that it was the bad old case of Catholic v Protestant enmity that has so beset this verdant but troubled little island on the Western edge of Europe.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. That Jeffrey Donaldson, Willie Frazer and the rest of the Ulster Lovers hold true to the tenets of Protestantism I do not doubt for a second, but if we, the public, were to interrupt our hero here in the photograph, either just before of immediately afterwards he had divested himself of that wheelbarrow, and asked him to state exactly what is meant by a state of grace, what is the current Vatican teaching on limbo, or the essential difference between a venal and a mortal sin, the poor man would blush deeply and have to confess, "I'm terribly sorry, I'm afraid I have no idea." An Spailpín Fánach doesn't know for sure, of course - lets just say I kind of get the feeling that this man is at a distance from religion by the cut of his jib.

So Dublin did not today witness a re-engagement of the Battle of the Boyne. Was it then the righteous fury of republicans angered at "coat-trailing" Unionists? Well, there may have been some of that, but it's hard to know how storming the Jervis Centre was going to knock King Billy off his white charger. The result of this protest was that it made Jeffrey Donaldson sound like the most reasonable politician going, and once you start thinking that about Jeff the Ripper you know that this has not been a good day for the Republican movement.

An Spailpín has his own little theory about what's behind the riot. I have no proof that could be used in a court of law of course, but then I'm not pulling in over two grand a day like certain Senior Counsels, so let's call it honours even on that legal nicety. What An Spailpín does have are two eyes to see, two ears to hear and seven years of the past ten spent in this hideous rat-trap of a town, Dublin, and there is no way An Spailpín could have missed the fact that there are enormous ghettoes in Dublin, populated with young men festering with hate, frustration, bitterness, ennui and no small amount of very powerful drugs, and every now and again they're going to need to let off steam. Today, the Families Against Intimidation and Terror March got the vote, but it could just as easily have been some other jamboree. Just so long as you had good weather, a cause to rally around, a few cans of Scrumpy J and no small amount of loose masonry, the better for chucking at policemen and shop windows.

Today's rioting in Dublin was not an expression of republicanism. It was an expression of the fact that we, as a society, have failed these people, and that the only time we notice their presence is when they burn down our shops. Ireland has become a spectacularly politically correct society - it is absolutely infra dig to suggest that if you are living in the ghetto, on the dole, out of your box on Class A drugs, and a father of four by fifteen years of year that you are a maggot, that you have made an insurmountable balls of your life, and now you're going to do the same to the next generation, and so on exponentially until the melting polar ice finally washes us all away.

You see, that's not the way Polite Society talks about the ghetto. For starters, you get very dirty looks when you even mention the word "ghetto" over the sips and dips. I know, because I mention it all the time. At this point in the evening, An Spailpín is usually taken by the arm and told that there is no such thing as a ghetto. Just because Dan gets his arse out of bed at half-five every blessed morning to go to work to provide for his wife and kids does not mean that he is somehow superior to our friend in the picture above, casually tossing wheelbarrows at the police. They've just made difference life choices you see - I mean, for goodness sake, a chap might be a wife-beating house-breaking junk-taking no good useless never did a day's work or never will son of a bitch, but that doesn't mean he's a bad person, you know. He's just doing his own thing.

Of course, Liberal Ireland isn't completely stupid (a close-run thing I know, but bear with me). While they might disabuse the very notion of the existence of ghettoes and confine all political discussions to what an utter bastard they consider George Bush, in the daytime they vote with their feet. Every wonder why Gaelscoileanna have flourished in Dublin? It's not because of devotion to the language, because the Gaelscoil movement has been on the go for ten years and we have yet to see it manifest an influence in the language revival movement - I don't remember any Gaelscoil graduate putting Enda Kenny in his box when he thought he was taking that free shot at the language before Christmas.

An Spailpín's pet theory is that the great thing about Gaelscoileanna is that our riotous friends in the ghetto despise the Irish language. These same characters who love Glasgow Celtic because it's an "Irish" club, despise the Irish language and Irish speakers. Why? Because they view Irish as part of the oppressive system that gets between them and their amenities. It's another weapon for The Man in keeping them down.

The other way for the middle classes to vote with their feet and keep young Euan and Sophie the Hell way from the pernicious influence of Anto and Nat'lie is to send them to a kinda private school. A kinda private school is one where it costs four to eight hundred bucks for the kids to go. Not enough to stop Euan's Ma and Pa, but plenty enough to keep the gates firmly closed to the ghetto.

And still we pretend it's not happening, or we cling to the nonsensical liberal belief that anything goes, man - what does it matter, so long as they're happy? Little consolation to the people that were terrified today, or had their cars burned out, or their shops and property looted.

An Spailpín Fánach can only speak for himself, of course, but he's getting awfully tired of the musha, musha, peteen, peteen approach to social dysfunction. I'm sure that were I to meet our wheelbarrow-tossing friend's social worker in the morning (and yes, I'd be fairly sure he has a social worker) and discuss the situation of what happened in Dublin today, I don't want to hear about this guy's family problems or environmental problems or addiction problems or self-esteem problems. They're pretty damned clear. What I want to know is what is being done about them, because right know, other than hand-wringing, it doesn't look like a hell of a lot.

Any Labour Party members or Greens who have got down this far are probably wrinkling their noses, and looking forward to cracking bons mots about "An Spailpín Fascist" over their chiabattas and mineral water with their dressed-by-Brown-Thomas friends, and that's fair enough. An Spailpín Fánach learned long ago that rioting savages may break my bones but names will never hurt me. But I guarantee you this - if responsible citizens don't get together and decide to behave responsibly, which includes properly punishing those who do not, then we'll really find out what a bloodbath is. May Christ pity and spare us.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

David McWilliams and the Accidental Millionaires

Intensely depressing stuff from David McWilliams in this morning's Indo. In one way, there is nothing new about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but somehow, as he stand in the bus shelters and sits still on the M50 day after inderminable day, An Spailpín Fánach gets the feeling he's missing something. Something very significant.

The late Warren Zevon wrote a song once that had the refrain "Send lawyers, guns and money - get me out of this!" Your correspondent knows just how he felt. Sigh.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scríobhnóireacht na Gaeilge

Tá ceann de na ceisteanna is tabhachtaí maidir leis an nGaeilge á phlé ag anImeall ar maidin - cén fáth scríobh as Gaeilge nuair is féidir linn ar scéalta a chur in iul ar i bhfád níos mó daoine as Béarla ná as Gaeilge? Tá An tImeall féin ag scríobh as Béarla ar maidin agus, mar sin, tógaimse féin an Ghaeilge, in aimn siméadrachta agus spraoi.

Dhá bhlian dhéag ó shín, agus An Spailpín Fánach fós ina mhac leinn ag Coláiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh, foilsiú beathaisnéis ar shaol Sheáin Uí Riada. Ní raibheas tagtha ar áis ag an nGaeilge an uair sin, ach bhí spéis mhór agam ins an Riadach, a scéal agus a cheol. Mar sin, bhí díomá mhór orm go raibh an leabhar seo ar chló ach ní raibheas féin in ann é a léamh.

Ar thógas mo fhoclóir agus mo Ghraiméar na mBraithre Críostaí ón gcófra agus ar thosaigh mé ar áis ar an nGaeilge? Níor thóg - bhuail mé le fear a bhíodh ana-ghnóthach maidir leis an nGaeilge i nGaillimh an uair sin agus thósaigh mé ag tabhairt amach dó, go raibh an leabhar seo suimiúl go leor liom ach níorbh fhéidir liom é a léamh agus é scríofa as Gaeilge amháin. Tá sé i bhfad níos easca tabhair amach ná rud éigin a dhéanamh, gan dabht.

"Behave yourself, you Spailpín Fánach," arsa mo dhuine liomsa go cnéasta. "Feicim go soléir do dhíomá maidir le beatha an Riadaigh, ach smaoinigh nóimead ar díomá lucht na Gaeilge, i gcónaí ar seilig chun leabhair nua Gaeilge a léamh - éireodh duine ar bith tuirseach ar Pheigín, tar éis tamall. Bhí an Ghaeilge tabhachtach don Riadach agus, dá mbeadh seisean beo fós, b'fhearr dó leabhar ar a bheatha bheith scíofa as Gaeilge ná as Béarla."

Dhúnas mo bhéal tar éis an labhairt sin. Níor léigheas an leabhar, agus is docha go bhfuil sé as cló le fada inniú. Ach d'fhoglaim mé ceacht spéísiúl thabhachtach maidir leis an nGaeilge agus a h-úsáid an lá úd sin. Scríobhann an tImeall inniú gurbh é an Béarla teanga an domhan sa lá atá inniú ann, cosuil leis an Laidin uasal fadó, agus is maith an rud é gurbh fhéidir linn, na Gaeil, an Béarla a scríobh agus a labhairt comh líofa mar is féidir linn. Ach, cé gurbh fhearr linn ár smaointe a thaispéaint ar an gcuid is mó daoine, agus gurbh é an Béarla an príomhbhealach chuig an ndream láidir sin, tá sé beagán ar dualgas ar Ghaeilgeoirí, nó leath-Ghaeilgeoirí cosuil le bhur Spailpín Fánach bocht, an teanga a úsáíd comh minic mar is féidir linn.

Tuigigí go maith go bhfuil an teanga i mbaol san gCéadú hAois is fiché, agus go mbeidh sí i mbaol le fada. Tá a naimhde reidh i gcónaí chun i a chur sa stáir, mar chuid de scéal na hÉireann ach cuid nach mbaineann leis an nuasaol, cosuil le scríobhnóireacht Ogham nó na dlíthe mBreithiún. Tá sé i bhfad níos easca domsa Béarla a scríobh, tá sé níos tapaidh, agus tá stór na bhfocal i bhfad níos laidre i mBéarla nár mar atá i nGaeilge. Ach ní hé an Béarla ár dteanga féin, agus an lá a ndéanfaimis déarmad ar sin, tiocfaidh scamall donn dorcha ar anam na nGael, agus ní dtíocfaimis slán ó shin.

, ,

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Film Festival My Ass

A citizen and taxpayer attempting to put some serious distance between himself and the FJDIFF yesterdayIsn't that a beautiful poster that the Fourth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival are running on the DART this weather? In the bottom right, the bottle of Jameson, iconic in itself, and in the fore- and backgrounds, a Ford Mustang GT390 and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, both photoshoped to match the Jemmy green. An homage to Bullitt, of course.

Beautiful. And rich in meaning. What it's telling us, of course, is the Fourth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival isn't run by some bunch of yokels, squares or hicks. They are cinephiles, darling, people that know when it comes to cool, you can't beat Steve McQueen in Bullitt.

What they don't seem to be aware of, however, is the rich irony in using Bullitt to promote their preposterous festival, because if it were released in the morning Bullitt would have as much chance of being shown at the Festival as Jackie Healy-Rae has of winning this year's Rose of Tralee.

Bullitt was a studio star vehicle from first to last. Steve McQueen was as big a box office attraction as you can imagine in 1968, coming off a decade that had seen him star in The Thomas Crown Affair, The Cincinnati Kid and, of course, The Great Escape in 1963. Robert Vaughn was a huge TV star because of The Man from Uncle, and the director, Peter Yates, made his name on TV directing The Saint and Danger Man. He would go on to make Krull in 1983, described as being "a world light-years beyond your imagination." An Spailpín Fánach doesn't doubt it for a second.

But your constantly curmudgeonly correspondent's point is that Bullitt's cool is seen only in hindsight. In its day, Bullitt was pure studio product, exactly what these film festivals espouse to despise. Bullitt isn't Art with a capital A; all it is is two hours' fun at the movies. Fun at the movies is generally considered infra dig at film festivals; we go to film festivals to be swept away by the daring of Lars Van Trier's direction and vision, and to sneer at George Bush with our friends in the lobby beforehand.

If Bullitt were made today, Pierce Brosnan could play the lead (following on from The Thomas Crown Affair, of course), Rachel McAdams could be Jacqueline Bisset, and who would be more perfect for the Robert Vaughn part than Kiefer "24" Sutherland? Call Tony Scott to direct and hey, we could have a half-way to good product here.

How likely is a Tony Scott picture to feature at the Fourth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival? Not very. Tony and his oeuvre are so far below the salt they're off the table. What is much more the Film Festival's cup of tea is Sugar, from the United States. Shall I quote the Sundance Film Festival program? Why don't I:

"When a woman rents a miserably tiny room, she finds mountains of belongings from the previous tenant, 'Anthony,' as well as messages on the machine from the landlord, his mother, and a calm, threatening Irishman. As she cleans up the place, she begins to experience uncanny visions, nightmares, and the feeling that Anthony is much closer than she imagined. Sugar is a terrifying, intoxicating cockroach-eye view into the sweet surrender of hysteria and comforts of urban claustrophobia that will have you crawling out of your skin."

Crawling out of my skin, eh? Well I can't speak for you bums, of course, but An Spailpín Fánach would sooner go to the dentist.

, , ,

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Can Clearly See You're Nuts - Star Trek Fan Goes Around the Bend

Mr Data - I can clearly see this man's nutsAnybody that particularly enjoys their science fiction has reason today to take stock, of themselves and their lives, and ask themselves: am I keeping this fully in perspective? Am I aware that this is just a TV a show or am I obsessing a little? Tony Alleyne did not keep things in perspective, and look what's happened to him. He only went and blew £166k on fitting out his house as a replica of the Starship Enterprise after his wife flew the coup, and now he's up to his dilithium crystals in debt. Even Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons would reckon that old Tony here ought be under medical supervision. No wonder the wife hit the high road. God only knows what he had planned for her.

culture, sci-fi, Star Trek, Tony Allenye

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ireland 26 Italy 16

Dante and Virgil on the post-match session in Temple Bar last night
Any Italians in Lansdowne Road yesterday with slightly twisted perspectives on the world may have found some sort of solace or comfort in the fact that the greatest poem in the Italian language concerns a trip to Hell. Even still, the torments recorded by Dante on his visit the Inferno with Virgil as his guide must surely have waned in comparison to the torments and injustices visited on the Italians at Lansdowne Road yesterday. Ireland should have been beaten by the finest Italian performance since Diego Dominguez used to stand off the scrum for his adopted country; instead, Eddie O'Sullivan cashed in his Get Out of Jail card while his opposite number, Pierre Berbizier, was left to mourn what might have been.

Italy have been participants in the Six Nations Championship for five or six years now, but it's still fairly clear that the Azurri are regarded as being a little below the salt in comparison to the home - British Isles, darling - nations or France, who have rubbed the home nations' noses in it sufficiently often to count as the real deal. Because Italy have struggled to come up to speed in the competition and because the Italians do not have the same history of rugby as the other countries, they've been seen as fall guys. Cannon fodder. Practice material. If it were boxing, Italy would be tomatoes - the bums, has-beens and never-weres that now try to survive by offering sparring practice to up and coming fighters. Yesterday at Lansdowne Road the tomatoes put Ireland on the canvas but they just couldn't close the deal.

Scandalous referring didn't do them any favours either. Elderly readers whose antennae still quiver at the words "Roger Quittenton" will have some idea of what the Italians must be feeling tonight. The English referee, Mr David Pearson, awarded Ireland two tries of the most dubious nature - in the first, it looked as though debutant hooker Jerry Flannery knocked on before he grounded, which should be no try, penalty Italy. In the second, TV replays showed that Mauro Bergamasco, the Italian flanker, held Tommy Bowe in the tackle and prevented him from grounding the ball, where the decision is no try, scrum five.

And as if giving Ireland a ten point start wasn't bad enough - Ireland's winning margin was ten points at the end, you know - Mr Pearson clearly bottled it when it came to sin-binning Brian O'Driscoll for illegal and reckless use of the boot. A ruck had developed in midfield about five minutes before the half. O'Driscoll steamed in, leaped on the back on a prone Italian player, and raked him in the classical prancing horse manner. The Italians were rightly outraged by this, one of them so much so that he swung for O'Driscoll. A small Donnybrook broke out then, with fists flying, and the referee must have thought, ah well, there's a pair of them in it. Unfortunately, no. O'Driscoll was clearly in the wrong, and should have marched.

To rub salt in the wound, Mr Pearson then binned the Italian fly-half Ramiro Pez for a late tackle immediately after not binning O'Driscoll for dangerous play. The Italians must have wondered what they had to do to even get a free kick off this man - must one of their number sleep with the fishes in the foul Liffey waters to even get the put-in to the next scrum?

The RTÉ panel were a little squeamish when it came to identifying the O'Driscoll incident for what it was, an open and shut case for a yellow card. An Spailpín Fánach is second to no-one in his admiration for Brian O'Driscoll but even Homer nods - O'Driscoll did what he oughtn't, and should have marched.

Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan now has even greater things to worry about. If the Irish looked like rabbits caught in Italian headlights today, what will happen them in the Killing Fields of Paris? What does Eddie do? Does he make wholesale changes? Will Johnny O'Connor come back? If he does, who goes? There is a rumour at time of writing that Simon Easterby was bitten by an Italian, who clearly does not live up to that nation's gourmand reputation - does this mean that Wallace will be shifted around to six, O'Connor restored to seven and Leamy left at eight? Or will Eddie and his selectors have to take their spades to the graveyard of discarded internationals and dig up that old dog for the hard, hard, Parisian road, Anthony Foley?

What about the front row of the scrum? The misfortunate Flannery had a baptism of fire today, but then Ireland's decision to call complex lineout calls when the debutant had the friendly face of Munster team-mate Paul O'Connell standing at two in the lineout at all times was puzzling, to say the least.

Maybe if Ramiro Pez, who had been outstanding in the first seventy-one minutes of the game, hadn't choked so badly on a kickable penalty in the seventy-second, the dauntless Italians would have been able to press on against the fifteen Irish and the referee for a famous victory. Heads would certainly have to roll in that inst. But Eddie and Ireland dodged the bullet, and O'Sullivan may be able to pick the same team again. That said, Eddie would certainly need to arrange for putting gunpowder in the Irish tea before sending them out in Paris. Such an act of outrageous larceny against the brave Italians can't have done much, karma-wise, for the rest of the season. An Spailpín Fánach gets that awful feeling that the writing is on the wall for Ireland in Paris, and that the moving finger has spelled out G-U-I-L-L-O-T-I-N-E.

CORRECTION: It's been pointed to your humble chronicler that in the instance of the attacking side knocking on at the line, á la Jerry Flannery, the correct decision is not a penalty, but a five metre scrum with a defensive put-in. I've looked it up and my friend is right, I am wrong. I'm correcting it now and all I can say in my defence, your honour, is that Spailpíní Fánacha are every bit in need of the television match replay official as international referees.

Sport, rugby, Six Nations, Ireland, Italy

Friday, February 03, 2006

Anthem for Doomed Youth

Cerys, Princess of Wales
Smash Hits magazine is ceasing publication in Britain after twenty-eight years. Alexis Petridis, whose prose is as dazzling as his handle, writes a lovely and moving paean to its memory in this morning's Guardian. Remember it this way.

An Spailpín was always rather too stately an hombre to buy Smash Hits of course, but he was certainly always aware of its existence. The last time I saw Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, a singer considerably more talented than her band, was on telly one miserable December at the Smash Hits Christmas Party. Matthews had been duetting with Tom Jones on a novelty Christmas record for "charidee," a naughty little song, not a hundred yards removed in subject matter from Flanders and Swann's Madeira, M'Dear, now that I think of it, called "Baby, It's Cold Outside." A sublime piece of puff, which naturally got no recognition. Anyway, Tom and Cerys were introduced to the screaming masses as "The Prince and Princess of Wales." Perfect.

, ,