Now I know last week in the aftermath of Christmas I wished you all a Happy New Year. But I am compiling this on January 1, 2019, so I think it is only appropriate that I would repeat my New Year message to each and every one of my readers. I also have to say thanks to you all, because every day I go out I meet someone who has read my previous column and has a comment or two to make. So thank you for that.
I hope the wrapping paper and the tinsel are put away for now, and that the only remaining Christmas reminder is the tree. Mine is still up and I know that in many homes it remains so until after Little Christmas, Nollaig na mBan, on January 6. Then I will have young James and Scott O’Rourke in, who put it up for me and now will take it down and store it away carefully again until Christmas 2019. A small bit of fun talk here: it used to be James who did the tree every year and then of late Scott, the youngest, has started to come in with him to do it. So of course, that’s a double job and double pay, and well-deserved too, for the two of them.
I simply have to comment on the weather. The last three weeks of constant daytime dryness and the mildness of the weather and the high temperatures remind me of early May. The only difference is there are no leaves on the trees, and just an odd bird or two singing. But it is fantastic weather. As I’ve said before, I am sure we will pay for this in the weeks to come, but never mind, enjoy it now when we have it. I read three separate letters in The Irish Times a few days ago in which people said they had mowed their lawns on St. Stephen’s Day. Imagine, recording growth on St. Stephen’s Day, and many people are saying that their daffodils are already up!!
I had a lovely time on Christmas Day with Aengus, Lisa and their children, and then on the December 27 Feargal, Maeve and their two children came down from Dublin and stayed until the 29th, when they then went off to Cork to Maeve’s parents. So I had lots of children, lots of chat and talk, and a very busy time. I would not like it any other way. I know that I am lucky and there are many who don’t have their own around them at Christmastide, and I do give credit and thanks to my lovely family.
And yes, I did get time to do two of my favourite things over the Christmas period, watch some very good older films on TV, and also get time to read. One of the films I liked so much was Ryan’s Daughter, which is a very old one filmed off the coast of Kerry. It’s a thoroughly good film with a great storyline and great acting, and I revelled in the Kerry scenery. Also, my daughter-in-law Maeve and I looked at Brideshead Revisited, based on Evelyn Waugh’s famous book. It made absorbing viewing and it was lovely to have company watching it as we commented on the clothes and the mores of the period in which it is set. I also saw on New Year’s Eve two wonderful Hercule Poirot films – one called Death on the Nile with marvellous cinema pictures of the pyramids and Egypt in general, and another set on an island in the Adriatic. Again the scenery was intensely wonderful, and the acting also. When you come to think of it, wasn’t Agatha Christie a true genius?
Amid all the clamour I managed to read the 500 pages of Michelle Obama’s wonderful book. It is a real cracker and I would advise readers to go to their local library, or if they have a book token in hand to purchase this book. It became a world bestseller over the Christmas period. Good to see that book sales are on the up, and long may that be so.
We’ll soon be back to the familiar Brexit routine and the pantomime that is Westminster, which comes back into play next week. Theresa May has already given out her New Year’s Day message to her party, asking them to support her plan, which is the only plan going for Brexit. Perhaps over the Christmas period, infused with good wine and Christmas pudding, more of her Tory backbenchers will be inclined to vote for this deal, but somehow I doubt it! Let’s wait and see next week when it all revs up again.
I didn’t do any rugby for the last few weeks. There was so much going on in my life that, while I watched the matches, I didn’t have much time for thinking or commenting on it. But I’m going to do so now.
There was good and there was bad, and I’ll go to the bad first. I saw the full Munster and Leinster match on TG4. It was delayed by two hours but never mind, I didn’t listen to the radio and didn’t hear any news of it until I turned it on myself on Saturday night. I never saw such a bad-tempered display by Leinster. I don’t know what got into them, and I know there is a longstanding historical animosity between Leinster and Munster. It goes back in rugby lore, based on quite what I don’t know. Whatever the reason, Leinster came all revved up, but in a bad way, to the match, which was a dog’s dinner if ever I saw one. Now as the readers will know, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve a longstanding affinity with rugby and I can tell you I never saw such a bad-tempered exhibition as during that match. From James Lowe’s red card to Johnny Sexton’s petulant behaviour, it was a litany of similar events right throughout the match.
Readers will know I have a huge admiration for Johnny Sexton, and was delighted that he won the World ‘Player of the Year’, but he’ll have a lot of making up to do now to get back in many of his fans’ full favour. With bad temper against Joey Carbery, he showed little respect to the referee with his petulance and exclamations. All in all Johnny, come back to us, please, in your original form. We’ve had enough of what we saw last week and we never want to see a repeat of it.
Now the good news was the Christmas cracker at the RDS between Connacht and Ulster. Yes I know Ulster won 33-29, but it was truly a cracker of a game with Jack Carty gaining his proper accolade as ‘Man of the Match’. The week before, Connacht had a great win and there is no doubt they are the team of the present and the future. It’s great to see Bundee Aki in full form after his wedding in New Zealand. The nuptials certainly created a great zip in him, and long may that be so.
I am already looking forward to next weekend’s rugby, which no doubt will see all the players in full form again and hopefully better humour all round.
That’s my lot for his week. Hope to speak with you all next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.