Politics popular culture Religion

If ’twas a dog. ‘twould bite you

I was chatting to a friend yesterday, as one does, and he mentioned that somebody was dead. I knew he was wrong, but even though I was the one correcting him, I could hear my late mother’s voice: “Who did you send to kill him?”

My mother, and many others of her generation, had a lively and ready store of all-purpose phrases. Who did you send to kill him? “If you die with that face, nobody will wash you”. Or, if you wanted to try something a bit risky: “Sure, won’t we be dead and rotten long enough?” My favourite as a child was “You should be shot with shit, so you’d be dead and dirty”.

When some ill-considered demand for money would come home from school, perhaps for a new book or a costume in the school play, my mother used to say “It’s soft the wool grows on them”. I still don’t understand the literal meaning of it, but I know what it meant. It was a recognition that those requesting this money had no experience of poverty, despite their vows. We went to religious-run schools for the most part. I’m pausing here as I write this, because I’m trying to find some way to imagine the people who ran these places, some point of commonality, but you know, I’m failing. It’s a gap in my education: who exactly were these twenty-two-year-old brothers and sisters? These overbearing virginal youths who so intimidated our adult hard-working parents twice their age? Where did these angry, sometimes violent young men come from? What happened to them to make them so enraged?

They certainly didn’t come from the rectangular redbrick blocks of inner Limerick. They had a different accent, a different demeanour and their culture didn’t feel like mine. I didn’t like the way they patronised my decent, honest well-read parents. I didn’t like it when I was nine, and I don’t like it now, looking back on it. The difference is that time has moved on and I wouldn’t accept such nonsense from a jumped-up labouring boy (or from anybody else, for that matter).

That was then and this is now.

Music popular culture

T. Rex visits Southpark

This is going to be a quick one.

Only the sad old hippies amongst us will remember the early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums, and so I must address this question to the sad old hippies.

Don’t you think Marc Bolan sounds exactly like Cartman?



What the fuck is wrong with McDowell?

Goebbels? Fucking Goebbels?

Do you know something, I’m really starting to despair of Irish politicians. You hear all this shit about Irish wit and repartee and yet this is the best these fools can come up with. Goebbels????

He couldn’t even get his insult right. I heard what he said, and it wasn’t what the incompetent hacks in RTE are now reporting. He didn’t say “the Goebbels of Fine Gael” -that at least would have had some kind of internal logic. He called Richard Bruton “the Dr Goebbels of propaganda”. What does that mean? Depending on your point of view, it either means nothing at all, or it means Bruton is a very effective propagandist. It’s actually an extremely silly comment, and beneath McDowell in many ways. Who is the Dr Goebbels of propaganda? Goebbels, that’s who. What the fuck are you talking about, Michael? Richard Bruton, if anything, is the John Creedon of propaganda. The Nicest Man in Politics. (I think I’ll email that to Morning Ireland for the crack: see if they use the soundbite. Listen out for it – you heard it here first!)

McDowell is losing it. He really is.

gardai Policing

Police and thieves

I see that the membership of an Garda Siochana are upset at the prospect of our having a police reserve. They don’t think it’s a good thing to have amateurs carrying out a policing role, and, instead, they want more trained Guards on the streets to fight crime.

All well and good, but here’s a curious paradox for you: even though this is true, the Gardai are still talking bullshit. To understand why, you have to analyse carefully the words in the first paragraph, because certain unwarranted assumptions are being made there. Dangerous assumptions, based on complacency and mental laziness, not to mention dishonesty.

Firstly, as far as using amateurs in a policing role goes, where’s the evidence that we have anything but rank amateurs at the moment? This is a force which is capable of setting the most astonishing priorities for the use of its supposedly limited resources. Such as? Well, for instance such as sending four or five police to break into a house at dawn and arrest a woman for non-payment of a parking fine! If you don’t believe me, scan recent news reports about this case. Not only did they drag the woman from her bed, handcuff her and force her into a police car, they then crashed the car and injured their prisoner, who was duly awarded damages by a court of law. What??

But, you’ll say, that’s only one isolated case. Is it? Well, what about the genius strategic planner who decided it was a good idea to raid an alcohol-free teenage disco because it was being held in a hotel bar, even though the bar counter was locked? Or the hero who went camping in the Aran Islands, had a few drinks and later returned to his tent, got into his uniform and promptly raided the pub for serving after hours.

And while we’re on the subject of formidable Garda intellects, could somebody throw light for me on the planning for the Love Ulster march? Anybody?

Hello Mr Guard. Grand stretch in the evening, thanks be to God. Grand stretch right enough.

Oh, hello, Mr March-Organiser. I see the nights are closing in a bit.That’s right. We won’t feel it now till Christmas. No. Look, we were thinkin’ of havin’ a wee bit of a march there, right enough. Wee march.

Were ya now? Gob, there’s great dryin’ out today all the same.

Aye. We were thinkin’ of maybe marchin’ a couple of loyalist bands down O’Connell Street there to the GPO, comin’ up till Easter time, maybe the day of a big Celtic match. And that there.

Right. Right. A kind of march, as such.

Aye. Past that there huge pile of loose bricks. Do you see any problem with that there? Loose pile of bricks and all? Marchin’ bands? Flutes? Sash? Celtic? And that there. Right enough?

Oh God no. There’ll be no problem with that. Not at all. That’ll be grand. Seeya on the day, so. Grand. Fine. Isn’t there a grand stretch in the evening, thank God, all the same?

Yes indeed. All isolated cases.

I’m beginning to feel weary.

I was in a quiet pub not too long ago, just on closing time on a Tuesday night, when two Guards walked in, ordered everybody out and waited in the street until the place was empty. That was their priority at 11:30 on a Tuesday night in Limerick. To clear six or seven people from a pub where there has never been the slightest trouble. And furthermore to wait in the street until all the desperate miscreants had vacated the establishment. Now, this might seem like a trivial matter, and that’s exactly what it is. A small, ridiculous incident. However, I think it illustrates perfectly the hollowness of all this talk about Garda resources. Trained, highly-paid police are using their time in such petty pursuits. It points towards a total absence of any sense of perspective, an inability to manage resources in any meaningful sense, an inability to prioritise and an almost complete lack of management in any modern sense. Another isolated case.

I’m sure everybody has their own isolated cases they could tell you about, and ultimately every example is an isolated case, but so is every arbitrary arrest, every unfounded prosecution and every instance of perjury.

Perjury? Jesus Christ, now he’s calling the Guards liars!

OK. Don’t listen to me, then. Instead have a look at these quotes:

  • the spirit wearies at the lies, obfuscations, concealments and conspiracies to destroy the truth that would be apparent to any reasonable person
  • This entire matter could have been ended within months had there not been a determined effort to conceal the truth in favour of a twisted version of reality
  • This process of investigation has been delayed by contempt for the truth.
  • Some Garda witnesses told lies or simply refused to answer on the basis of a warped interpretation of the right to silence.
  • When an obligation to answer was in place, lies replaced silence. The extent of this was both astonishing and wearisome. It has wasted time and money in abundance.

Who do you think wrote these things? Was it some rabid kaftan-weaving peace-marching Ego Worrier, such as my good self? No. It was not. The author of these remarks was, in fact, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, President of the High Court, and he expressed these views in May 2005, in his report on the Donegal Garda division. Less than a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we need a strong professional police force. I just don’t think we have one. Instead of a police force, it seems to me that we have a clan, a tribe, which regards the rest of society with suspicion and approaches people sometimes with undisguised aggression. Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of boorish, disrespectful behaviour by some Guard on a power trip? Annoying though such an experience can be, I’m afraid this has a more worrying consequence. Any force such as our own must police by consent, and unfortunately it seems that many members of the force are busily eroding the support of the very law-abiding people they need on their side.

It seems to me that the root of this problem lies in the culture of the training regime. Many guards in a quieter moment will tell you that they learned in Templemore to see everybody as a potential criminal. Often overlooked and, to my mind, very revealing is the terminology used by our police force in referring to individual officers. Do you know of another country where police refer to each other as “members”?


The Heart of Darkness

Worst police force in Europe

Three tragic deaths

The Cannibal Murders

Anti-social behaviour orders

Do You Know Your Daddyââ€â„¢s a Murderer?

Non-lethal weapons

Oh those funny old Guards

The Professionals

Losing hearts and minds

Favourites popular culture

The worst poet ever

Today, I think I’ll share with you one of the works of William Topaz McGonagall, a man widely acknowledged to be the worst poet who ever lived. This fine example of his work commemorates the Tay Bridge disaster, one of the worst railway accidents ever to occur in Britain, and so we find a certain symmetry.

If, like me, you’re completely entranced by this incompetent fool, you can read more about him here:

The poem is titled, appropriately enough:-

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

‘Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.


Feng Shui

You know Feng Shui? Of course you do.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about Feng Shui. I want to talk about the fucking eejits who correct your pronunciation of “Feng Shui”.

You must have got this shit: “Oh, it’s actually pronounced Fung Shway, y’know”.

Is it really? Well, I think we all agree the Chinese don’t use the western alphabet. They use their own pictogram system. So if it’s really pronounced “Fung Shway”, why do we write it “Feng Shui”?

Is it so that smug South-Dublin half-wits can look down on fully-evolved people? I think we should be told.

And while I’m on this particular rant, why do we all suddenly have to call Bombay by a new name: Mumbai? Isn’t Bombay our name for it? I mean, if we were going to be consistent about this and only refer to places by their local names, we’d be talking about Kobnhavn, Roma, München, Moskva, Praha, Beograd, Venezia.

Hello, is that Aer Lingus? I’d like to book a flight to Suomi.

What kind of shite is this?

And I never liked Beijing Duck.

Customs popular culture Religion

The Big Day here at last

Well, this is it. By now, I expect, the Fat Knacker Marching Bands will have wobbled their way through some appalling parody of Californian cheerleading and the Ancient Staggering Americans are back in their cryogenic cocoons for another year of undeadness. They’ll be handing out the prizes for the floats, selected by the assembled dignitaries on the stand. “An’ now it gives me great pleasure ta announce da prize for da Least Boring Display, an it goes ta Hegarty’s Windas, for da Hungarian Hoor!! Less have a Big Clap for da Hungarian Hoor, tank ya laze an jen men.”

Dignitaries. Now there’s a concept for you. Dignitaries. It really is such a parochial small-town kind of word, isn’t it? A word coined for towns such as Limerick, and countries such as Ireland. Bring out the local dignitaries for the occasion. Well what the fuck is a dignitary? Will I tell you? OK, I was going to anyway. A dignitary is some fucking shopkeeper who managed to slither onto some half-assed incompetent sheep-dipping committee and now thinks he matters. Even though he couldn’t put two words together in the right order and he can hardly scratch his name on the footpath with a broken bottle. That’s a dignitary. All you have to do is look at the mummified bums who call themselves the City Council, or even more laughably, the City Fathers. Oh come on. A shower of half-educated gobshites and illiterates. In Limerick dignitary circles, your importance is measured by the redness of your nose and the bagginess of your suit. Oh, and a wife who caught her accent off a sun-bed.

Anyway, it’s now time for the real celebration of our national identity. This is where we show the world the new self-confident Ireland, by all of us getting completely shitfaced drunk, vomiting in the street and starting fights at the taxi-ranks. Oh. Right. So actually, there’s going to be nothing different then. In Ireland, every day is St Patrick’s Day.

To my mind, at least, the annual St Patrick’s Day celebration illustrates as no other event can, how completely we have abandoned every vestige of genuine culture in this country. I was listening to that fool Tubridy on RTE this morning (or Radio Dublin as we call it down here), and he was at a table laid out with exclusively Irish food. Great. What a positive idea, I’m thinking. So, what exactly did this Gaelic gastronomic gamut comprise? Did he have freshly-caught baked fish, mussels in garlic, fillet steak in cream sauce with braised garden carrots and baked Irish potatoes in rich creamery butter? Irish Brie and cheddar? Free-range eggs, handmade preserves, chutneys, jams, brown bread? Did he present an array of crisp tender organic vegetables, lifted from the ground this very morning and cooked to perfection, al dente, retaining all their wonderful nature-given nutrition? Did he fuck! He had a table full of Marietta biscuits, Kimberleys, Taytos, Three-Counties cheese, instant mash and every other kind of ersatz processed shite that Irish kids were fed from the sixties on instead of real food. It’s only a small example, I know, but I think it’s a revealing one. This is how our culture has evolved: we think such crap is part of our heritage the same way some people think the Wolfe Tones play traditional Irish music.

For the most part we don’t speak Irish any more, except within certain small geographical areas. Our kids are coming out of school, after eleven or twelve years of being taught the language, hardly able to speak a word of it. Jesus Christ, in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, you name it, they can teach their kids to speak fluent English in five years. And here, despite being taught Irish from the time they enter school, not only can our kids not speak it, in many cases they come out of school with a downright dislike of it. Now what the fuck is going on there? Is it just that our children are so exceptionally stupid they’re unable to learn? Or is it that the teaching of Irish was hijacked long ago by the language-fascists, whose methods turned the children completely against the language. Isn’t it ironic that the very people who claim to support the language might well be the ones who manage to eliminate it?

What exactly did St Patrick achieve anyway, that we’re all so proud of? Well, I suppose he brought with him the love of rugby football that kept many an Irishman going in hard times. (Although, admittedly, the league hadn’t a very big following in those days, and Richmonds had no club house. Not much change there, then.) But apart from rugby, what did he achieve? Christianity? Oh right. Christianity. Wasn’t that the religion that would later give the world the mass slaughters of the crusades. The Inquisition. The pogroms of Eastern Europe. And on a more local level, the gobshites of the Catholic hierarchy and the thick farmer’s sons they appointed as their foot-soldiers in the parishes. John Charles McQuaid. SPUC. Glin, Daingean, Letterfrack, Artane. Thank you St Patrick. The Magdalene laundries. Thank you St Patrick. Sean Fortune, Brendan Smyth, Ivan Payne and all the other pederasts. Thank you St Patrick. Catholic control of hospitals that would rather see a pregnant woman die in agony than administer pain-killers. The same Drogheda hospital, as it happens, where a god-like consultant saw fit to carry out hysterectomies on hundreds of women without their permission. Why? Because in their insanity, the fucking nuns who owned the place considered this more in keeping with Catholic teaching than a simple tubal ligation would be. St Patrick, thank you so very fucking much.

Politics World


Amazingly, I actually made it out for a pint, but only to the local pub with Jimbo. A good walk, which is probably as well since we both need the exercise.

A good chunk of our night, I’m sorry to tell you, was given over to the late Mr Milosevic, a thundering bollocks, in my humble opinion, and no loss to humanity. An individual who, for opportunistic reasons, facilitated a gratuitous war in which there were absolutely no winners. At least Babic had the decency to acknowledge the evil of his actions before ending his life. I was looking at the news last night, at footage perhaps of the Dayton talks or something like that, and there were Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic. Table quiz question!! What do these guys all have in common? Yep, they’re all fucking dead.

While musing on the Yugoslavian conflict, and in particular on the flaccid European Union response to the genocide on its doorstep, my thoughts wandered to the Rwandan obscenity of 1994. Now, admittedly, we did just as little about both genocides, but I thought we probably agonised a good deal more about the European one. We were upset about people like us being killed. In truth, we achieved an astounding thing, by inventing the concept of racist apathy. It’s that kind of original thinking that makes the EU so great today.