On Liveline, a woman who rang in about betting with the bookies on what Lotto numbers might come up suddenly starts chatting to someone in her house. Joe reminds her that she’s on national radio. The lady matter of factly explains that she was conversing with “the gas man”. Cue a fit of laughter from Joe. Later (with the gas man gone) Joe and the caller reminisce about the old days, when coins were put into meters to maintain the gas supply and even to keep the TV going.
A man calls in to say that his family used to rent a transistor radio. I’m much too young to remember such scrambling for shillings, but when I briefly worked for a ‘TV repair shop’ in the 1980s, people were still renting TVs.
My stint with Vincent Beirne in Strokestown was a series of escapades (as recounted in my book, Nothing About Sheep Stealing). Vincent quickly discovered that I wasn’t a natural on the roof (fixing TV aerials) or on ground either (selling or repairing TVs). Before we parted company (amicably), poor Vincent put me on the road…to deliver TVs, and to collect rent.
As recalled, very fondly and (if I say so myself) self-deprecatingly in my book, returning repaired TVs did not pass without incident. But surely collecting rent from clients would be straightforward?
In Carrick, I called to a house and told the lady I was here to collect the rent for the TV. “But there was a man here to collect it last week” she announced.
Next house, same story. It transpired that a conman had been masquerading as a TV rent collector for a few weeks, and had helped himself to a tidy amount of ‘our’ money. My ‘career in TV’ was jinxed!
Tom Jones is on the Late Late, but I’m sticking with the snooker. Even if Ryan Tubridy joins Tom in a duet to sing Sex Bomb, I’m not switching over. At the Crucible, defending world champion and long-time moody genius Ronnie O’Sullivan is 10-6 down to Anthony McGill in their ‘Best of 25’ round two clash.
When the evening session begins – and entirely predictably – O’Sullivan breaks from the starting stalls in a flurry of superb potting. McGill, who had been brilliant in the morning session, now sits forlorn in his chair, frozen out, snooker’s unique capacity to torture innocent men manifesting itself again. The ageless O’Sullivan reels his opponent back in, as only he can. He is chasing a seventh world title, a feat that would draw him up to the shoulders of Stephen Hendry.
11-11, then O’Sullivan moves 12-11 ahead. McGill cuts a lonely figure, the fans cheering O’Sullivan on. The underdog then produces a wonderful 136 break to set up a final-frame decider. O’Sullivan takes control, purring around the table. Then, an uncharacteristic miss, and McGill has a chance. He holds his nerve and edges the match 13-12, an epic win for him.
The defending champion is out. He is extremely gracious, wishing McGill well. The remainder of the World Snooker Championship won’t be the same without O’Sullivan, but the Crucible Theatre has again proven itself to be a cauldron of sporting drama.
Up to ten or maybe fifteen years ago it was almost a novelty to see an airplane passing over Roscommon, its contrails (those streaks of white) remaining in the sky for some time after.
In recent years, it’s obvious that Roscommon has become a flight path regular. Before the pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for dozens of flights to appear in the sky above our house (a mile or so outside Roscommon town) over the course of a single day. As a nervous flyer, I concluded long ago that these planes were flying far too close together, but I presume that this is an illusion/the powers that be know what they’re doing!
Naturally, the plane sightings have decreased significantly since the pandemic started, but while mowing the grass today, I noticed those familiar trails of white, as two planes passed overhead (at around 1 am). One wonders who is in these planes, and where they’re going. I resisted the temptation to contact Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to advise that neither plane watered our plants (this is a topical reference to the colourful Kerry TD complaining – during a press conference on Climate Action – about planes “peeing down on top of us”).
In some sort of coincidence, later (at 8.30 pm) four small low-flying planes pass over our house. It’s quite a spectacular and unusual sight, certainly in these parts. Presumably they are members of a Flying Club who couldn’t resist taking an outing in the fine weather. Or maybe it’s the assembled Healy-Raes on a fact-finding mission.
Also on Saturday
It must be an Irish thing…when a scorcher of a day comes along, especially if it’s a Saturday, we open all the doors in the house!
As this glorious afternoon struts its stuff, with military precision (and what will probably be short-lived enthusiasm), we’re into car cleaning, window polishing, shed tidying mode…well, for an hour or two at least. I’m sure it’s the same in many other households.
There is however an immediate fall-out from the ‘open doors’ policy. The first wasp of the year (that I’ve seen) has suddenly appeared in the kitchen, where I’m taking a coffee break.
It’s a whopper, a beast of a wasp, like it’s been sent out by its family to lay down some kind of marker. I normally pass little heed on wasps, but this brute is circling the laptop as I write. Too close for any semblance of comfort. I win the subsequent stand-off, and within a minute or two the inquisitive wasp is gone, presumably back outside through one of our open doors.
Meanwhile, the gorgeous weather of the last few days is a very welcome lift for a pandemic-weary public. Hopefully the first taste of a glorious summer, wasps and all!
I haven’t followed the developing Dominic v Boris soap opera across the water, but I gather that the mad scientist (Dominic Cummins) who part-created Boris in a very plush lab has now turned against his slightly wild-haired former boss. I must catch up on what’s been happening. There’s a clever headline in today’s Sunday Times which suggests that Cummins is not a man one should fall out with: ‘No 10 started a petrol fight with an arsonist. Did no one tell the PM he would get burnt?’
As I approach Kilglass Gaels GAA grounds on the way to Rooskey, there’s suddenly a stunning, almost emotional sight…(over the walls)…children playing football. The vehicles in the carpark are confirmation of the return, this evening, of underage GAA training. Similar wonderful scenes are unfolding elsewhere in our county, and nationwide. It is extremely heartening.
The Main Street of our great county town is currently an extraordinary sight. Its innards exposed as perhaps never before, the surface has been uprooted as part of major works under the Public Realm Enhancement project.
A friend said: “This is almost a ‘do you remember when?’ moment which today’s generation will tell their grandchildren about…”
A more short-term consideration is the impact on businesses which are already suffering due to the pandemic. Some will say that this was the best possible time for the works to be undertaken, but certainly traders are feeling a major pinch just now.
From a visual point of view, the street is certainly an extraordinary sight. Provision has been made to allow people to walk the footpaths (and access those stores that are open). There is a certain fascination in seeing the street so exposed, not least following fascinating discoveries of archaeological interest (Roscommon People 16 April edition). We’ll keep readers posted on this aspect of the works over the coming weeks and months.