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Chelsea beat Manchester United

Did you watch that? The FA Cup, no less. Between the two greatest teams in England. Chelsea and Manchester United. No less.

The very best.

Wasn’t that the greatest load of horse-shit you ever had to sit through? I fell asleep 120 times during the match. In fact, it got so bad that in the end I had to rig up an extremely painful and highly dangerous automatic electric-shock waking device. And I still fell asleep.

What a load of shite.

I hope tomorrow’s Heineken Cup final isn’t as boring , but of course, you already know the answer to that: it won’t be.

It’s rugby!.

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Sport

Munster 30 – Bourgoin 27

What exactly was that?

As somebody said in today’s paper, Munster thought they were the Harlem Globetrotters. We were lucky to come away from there with anything the way Munster played yesterday. What did they think they were doing? I know they’re trying to introduce a more expansive game, but the time to do it is when you’re winning by 25 points, not when your back is to the wall.

People in Limerick are speaking of little else today as far as I could tell. Everywhere you go, people are standing around, shaking their heads and muttering what the fuck were they playing at? That’s an awful lot of standing, shaking and muttering.

We can only hope that lessons were learnt and that when Leicester come to visit on Saturday, there will be none of that fanny-dancing. I hope to see a grim, ugly struggle with no entertainment value. 9-0 would be a good result.

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Limehouse Dick

The dying rays of a perfect May sunset streamed through the bow window, silhouetting the pensive figure who gazed out across the lawns of the great castle. As Bock, deep in thought, scanned the horizon of his vast estate, the light caressed his face, illuminating his fine features and revealing the faintest flicker of secret anxiety on his manly brow. His magnificent physique suggested an almost feral strength and yet his deep clear gaze spoke of a fine intellect and deep sensitivity. As he followed the sun’s declining disc, he gently tapped out a tune on the marimba- a primitive African xylophone. Then suddenly and with great force, he flung the marimba to the floor, smashing it in a thousand shards.

Where is he? Bock murmured. Where the devil can he be?

With a discreet knock, a wizened butler entered. It was Scrotum, a wrinkled old retainer.

Pardon me for interrupting, Sir. Despite his 183 years, Scrotum’s voice was strong and confident. That- he paused and began again, That person is at the door.

Bock spun around to face him. The devil you say! So he came after all, did he?

Scrotum, with barely-hidden distaste, raised an eyebrow. I take it you do not wish me to eject this person, Sir?

Bock laughed a great hearty bellow. Oh my dearest Scrotum. What ever should I do without you? No indeed: show the rascal up, will you? There’s a good chap.

Very good Sir.

As Scrotum silently withdrew, Bock took a leather-bound volume from his escritoire. It was a first edition of his celebrated research into the Titius-Bode Law of Planetary distances in which he proved that both Newton and Einstein were totally wrong. On some matters, Bock cared not a jot, but on others his enthusiasm knew no containment, and as always, when he pondered the unbounded universe, Bock became lost. But still, even as he read, he became aware of a presence behind him, and by the stench of cheap scent mingled with the tang of armpit sweat, he knew at once who it was.

So, he said without turning, have you brought them, Limehouse Dick?

The man he addressed was a great hairy shuffling brute, with a shifty sideways glance and an evil-looking scar from the corner of his eye to the base of his ape-like chin. His cauliflower ears told of many an angry struggle and his ham-like fists hinted at a life spent fighting in the mud.

Brought them, Guv? echoed Limehouse Dick. I brought one for yourself, Guv, and it cost me deep in purse.

Bock wheeled to confront him. One? he demanded. One is no use, you fool. I said two and I meant two, dammit. D’you understand me, Sir?

Limehouse Dick recoiled as if struck.

Steady on Bock, me old mate. No need to get all shirty on me. With a sly grin, he tapped his breast pocket. Maybe a little persuasion might be –

But he got no further, as Bock sprang forward and caught him by the throat. By God, Sir, Bock hissed, do not trifle with me, or I’ll thrash you within a metric inch of your life. You mistake me for another if you fancy I will stand for it.

Limehouse Dick did not know it, but Bock held him in a secret grip, learned long ago from a dying Porroh man on the lagoon river behind the Turner Peninsula. The slightest pressure could kill a buffalo. Though he was unable to move a single muscle, the fear in Limehouse Dick’s eyes told Bock he was a defeated man, and he pushed the unfortunate fellow away, with a soft sigh of regret. He took down a didgeridoo and began to play a soft, haunting monotone melody in time with Limehouse Dick’s sobbing. Only two men have ever mastered the art of playing the didgeridoo and talking at the same time. One is long dead and the other is Bock.

Don’t take it to heart, my dear fellow, he chuckled, expertly kicking a bottle of fine brandy to Dick. Have a drink and compose yourself. Now, come show me what you’ve brought.

A trembling Limehouse Dick fumbled inside his grubby jerkin and pulled out two tattered pieces of light cardboard. One for yourself, Guv, he muttered resentfully.

And the other? prompted Bock.

Dick shifted uneasily. The other ticket for young Master Bullet.

Bock snatched the two tickets from Dick’s hand and quickly secreted them between the covers of the leather-bound book.

Get on with you, Limehouse Dick, he laughed, and have Scrotum give you fifty guineas on your way out. You old rascal! Oh, and tell him to ready the Bentley. We’re going to Cardiff for the week-end.

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Carer wanted


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’!”

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Limehouse Dick