Kind, reliable person required to look after small city for weekend.

Light duties only: closing curtains etc.

Apply to Bock for details.

There’s a medium-sized chance that there will be tickets to the match for both the Bullet and myself, but no certainty yet: we probably won’t find out until Monday or Tuesday. Bullet knows that I booked our flights three weeks ago, but I haven’t said anything yet about going to the game. All I said was that we have the flights because they were cheap and I’m prepared to write off the cost if we don’t get tickets. Just assume we’re watching it in Limerick. He’s a laid-back little fucker anyway and he’ll go with the flow no matter what happens so he doesn’t mind too much if we watch it in Limerick.

Anyway, Limerick might well be the coolest place on earth to watch the game. I hear they’re setting up the biggest screen in Europe on O’Connell Street. Imagine! The biggest screen in Europe. It reminds me of that great line by John Prine: the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel. Fuck it, as we’re on a digression (when are we not on a digression?), here’s a nice link I found about Muhlenberg County. Those who know what I’m talking about will understand, and I can only ask the rest to forgive.

As I said, I haven’t told the Bullet yet that we might well be Cardiff-bound, along with about fifty thousand other pilgrims just like us. It would be wrong to raise his hopes yet, and that reminds me of yet another story, which isn’t quite as bad a non sequitur as my previous digression.

Three years ago, we headed into town for a game at Thomond Park against Gloucester. I didn’t want the Bullet to be disappointed, so I said something like this: Now look here, Bullet. This crowd are the best team in England. They’re top of the English league. We have to beat them by 27 points, and we need to score at least four tries doing it, so don’t get your hopes up. Ok, fella?

Right. So, the game progressed and, as the Bullet was shifted back and forth between my shoulders and the rather heftier ones of Dickler, he was the only one of the three of us who could actually see the game, and therefore it fell to an eleven-year-old to tell us what was happening. Penalty to O’Gara. 3-0. Oh dear God. Penalty to them. Shit. 3-3. Try for Kelly. Oh Jesus Christ!!! Madness. 8-3. Penalty for them. 8-6. Oh noooooo! Penalty for O’Gara. 11-6. Could we be pulling away? Surely not. Try for Mossie Lawlor!!! What?? Oh Jesus Jumping Christ. 16-6. Lunacy!! Penalty for O’Gara. 19-6. Total drooling frothing insanity in the ground. And then, unbelievably, a try for O’Driscoll. What? What?? Oh leaping Jesus on a bicycle!! That’s 24-6 Crowd need an ambulance for mass heart attack. Conversion: 26-6. Complete gibbering idiocy! Strangers hugging each other. But the time is up. We’re in injury time. The clock is running down but this is Thomond Park and there goes the great John Kelly, over the line for the fourth try in the last second of the game, but its not enough. It’s too late. It’s only 31-6, and we need 33. If O’Gara misses this conversion it’s all over. The ref will blow and we’re gone. We’re out and it’s not an easy kick from this angle, but still . . , but still . . . and as O’Gara lines himself up for a difficult conversion from the sideline, I feel a gentle tug on my shoulder from the Bullet: Is it ok if I get my hopes up?

I nod, squeeze his hand, Ronan slots the conversion and the whistle blows. All of Limerick, Cork and Fethard, it seems, are in Thomond Park, and every one of them has lost his mind. Sane people are running around like fucking lunatics, screaming and hugging each other. We’re through and the best team in England are out. (You couldn’t write the script, could you, but see also, Munster v Gloucester II, Munster v Sale, Munster v Leinster.)

I made a little extra act of belief today by hiring a car. It seems like a better option than pissing around on trains, wouldn’t you agree, and we can pick it up at the airport. I haven’t worked out the itinerary yet, but I’m hoping everything will be ok, and I’ll tell the kid on Tuesday if we get the tickets. “Bullet“, I’ll say, “Bullet, have your red shirt washed and packed for Thursday. We’re goin’ a-huntin’!”



Limehouse Dick

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