It’s a cold, miserable, damp Wednesday, 2nd of January, very different from the amazingly mild weather we have had over the Christmas, and as I am sitting at the kitchen table writing this piece, it’s hard to believe that after the great anticipation and excitement of putting up the tree, and of Santa’s visit and the opening of all the presents, it’s as good as over. In a few days’ time everything will be packed away, and life as we know it will return to normal.
I have to say that the festive season was really enjoyable, but, as with most families, we had our own stresses to put up with – and for some unknown reason, this year was one of those years. The television dish went blank for a week, the dishwasher stopped washing, the washing machine almost blew up (and was declared terminally ill), and the chimney went on fire, all in the few days before the Christmas. However, thanks to the great efforts of various people, including Hughie the TV man, and Kevin the Dishwasher man, we got all sorted and were able to watch all the rubbish on telly over the holidays, and to wash the dishes after the turkey and ham had been demolished.
The washing machine had to be replaced, and in fairness to one of our local electrical retailers and his staff, the new machine arrived on the Saturday before Christmas, and as I write this piece I can hear it working away out in the back kitchen.
Of all the things we would have missed, apart from all the food and drink, the washing machine would have been the most lamented, so huge thanks to Tommie Kelly and his lads for coming up trumps at their busiest time of the year.
That brings me to the chimney fire on the Friday evening before Christmas. I was working in Athlone when Carol rang to say the Dishwasher man, Kevin, who had arrived to fix it, told her the chimney was on fire, and that huge volumes of sparks were flying up into the atmosphere. Being made of solid stuff, I advised her to let it burn itself out, and added that it would be nice and clean for Santa’s visit. She agreed to go down that route, until a few minutes later she heard an outrageous bang in the chimney, and herself and Kevin agreed that it was time to call the Fire Brigade.
Barely more than 20 minutes after she made the call, the Brigade was on the job, and I cannot praise or thank them enough for the great work that they did. They were so professional in every aspect, including leaving the room spotless, and before they left they checked to see that everything was in order and that the danger was totally averted. Santa had no problem making his way down the chimney on Christmas Eve, so heartfelt thanks to Pat Hoey, Gary Smyth and the other six lads – one of whom was in the bath when he got the summons – who looked after us so well. I hope he managed to get back to it (the bath) over the rest of the Holy Season.
Meanwhile, with all the material stuff that comes with it, it can be easy to forget that for people of a certain religion, the festive season is also about the birth of Baby Jesus, and, while I am the first to admit that I am not as committed to my faith as maybe I should be, at the same time, on Christmas Day I made sure to attend Mass in Donamon Castle. It was just a beautiful experience. The musical journey that Annette Griffin, her mother Frances, and John Staunton took us all on was quite special, and there was a lovely feelgood atmosphere amongst the huge attendance. It truly was an uplifting hour or so.
Ole, Ole, Ole… Solskjaer now the Special One?
For those of us who are Manchester United fans, the New Year has arrived with a little bit of hope, thanks to the attacking football that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got them playing since he took over from the Special One, Jose Mourinho. And while this year is over and done with, in my opinion there is now some hope for a more exciting, and possibly even successful, future.
For some reason I am not the normal United fan who automatically hates Liverpool, nearly like the unionists and nationalists in the North used to hate each other, and so I am happy enough to see the Merseysiders walking away with this year’s title. If they even draw tonight at Man. City, I think the race is as good as over. As for us (Manchester United), a top four place is highly unlikely, but hopefully we will continue to play attacking football in the old United tradition.
Big night at The Green
Out here in Creggs, the rugby season is now fully on the boil, and the next four or five weeks are critical in terms of possible league or cup success.
On this Saturday night, on the wonderful new 4G pitch, we play Castlebar, who will be gunning for revenge after we recently beat them in the Cawley Cup final. It’s a must-win encounter, so try to get to The Green, see the excellent facilities up front for yourself, and help our lads get the win they so badly need.
Happy New Year
It has now become a family tradition that we go out for dinner on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards, I discovered the delights of Heineken Zero, a non-alcoholic lager which tastes very like the real stuff. That left me free to drive back from the Abbey Hotel to Mikeen’s, where I could park the old jalopy, have a pint or two of the black stuff, listen to the musical entertainment (provided by Paul Browne), see out the old, see in the new, and get chauffuered home at the start of yet another New Year.
At this stage of my life it’s an achievement to be still here, so I’m happy enough with that, and – not forgetting the many great people who passed on in 2018 – all I can do is wish you all a happy New Year, and may you still be here this time next year.
Till next week, Bye for now!