What a fun weekend it’s been so far, celebrating the resurrection myth. Yesterday, we all went up Lough Derg on boats, with buckets of ice-cold beer, cases of wine and mountains of grub for the barbecue — all in honour of the Good Friday tradition. People brought guitars, bongos, harmonicas and anything else they could play. Others, such as myself, with the musical talent of a bag of assorted mouse-droppings, contributed to the fun by trying not to sing, although I have to say, half a slab of beer tends to loosen the old vocal chords. This is not a good thing, but I’m happy to tell you I behaved myself and just mumbled the words under my breath. It’s amazing how educational those severe beatings were in previous years.
A day on the water has a way on concentrating the thoughts, easing away the mundane worries of our existence, and getting the troubled individual soundly pissed in a congenial and relaxed way, among friends and new acquaintances soon to become friends. I must say, I’m thoroughly pleased to have made this little voyage with the kind people who not only ferried me to a secret lakeside destination, but also filled me up with tender, medium-rare grilled steaks and all the trimmings. I will return the compliment before this summer is out.
Of course, on these trips, all sorts of ideas pop into your head, don’t they?
I had a genius idea, but everyone laughed at it, and I can’t figure out why. You see, the mayor of Limerick, Jim Long, was interviewed by Hot Press this week, during which he explained his philosophy on legalising drugs.
I would be against legalising drugs because you have that minimum one. What’s it called? The one they smoke?
Yeah. We turned a blind eye to that and that led to ecstasy and other drugs.
Bang on the target, I thought. Let’s teach the young people how awful drugs are and make money at the same time. My plan is simple. Hire Crystal Swing to play someplace like the Big Top and as part of the ticket price, give everyone half an acid tab. Then force them to look at the mad staring Scientology grin of the mother and after ten minutes, they’re cured for life.
No more drugs for me, they’ll mutter, ruefully as they ponder the difficulty of scratching your back while wearing a straitjacket. Last time I did drugs, I saw a crazy woman made out of old handbags. Never again. From now on, I’ll stick to a safe drug like alcohol, same as Mayor Long.
Funnily enough, nobody could see the sense in my idea. Maybe if I modified it to Daniel O’Donnell with the acid, they might like it better.
Meanwhile, the forces of Irish insanity succeeded in closing down the Great Friday festival by invoking a thoroughly bizarre law: the Public Dance Halls Act 1935, a truly anachronistic piece of legislation making it an offence to dance in public without a licence (as amended by the Licensing (Combating Drug Abuse) Act, 1997).
It’s a crime to have public dancing in an unlicensed place. You think I jest? Read it for yourself.
The Public Dancehalls Act, 1935 states as follows:
10.—(1) No place, whether licensed or not licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, shall be used for public dancing unless a public dancing licence granted under this Act is in force in respect of such place.
This provision was amended by the Licensing (Combating Drug Abuse) Act, 1997 to make the organiser liable as well as the owner, and also to update the financial penalties.
“place” means a building (including part of a building), yard, garden, or other enclosed place, whether roofed or not roofed and whether the enclosure and the roofing (if any) are permanent or temporary;
“public dancing” means dancing which is open to the public and in which persons present are entitled to participate actively.
So here comes the existential question. Do they dance or do they not dance? It’s pure Father Ted, although more bizarre than anything Linehan and Mathews ever imagined. If you intend to hold a concert with bands, as the Great Friday programme envisaged, with a great line-up including Protobaby, BPLO and Acoustra, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that you’ll attract music lovers, who might, or might not dance, much like any other public event. Does Thomond Park need a dance licence to account for the celebrations after a Munster win? What about the African Pentecostal churches that have sprung up everywhere? If I decide to stroll through the Park, an enclosed space, and give a little hop, skip and jump, do I commit an offence?
This is pure Mayor Long comedy territory, though I suspect that the word Dancing is a euphemism for other things. Things the establishment fears, hates and knows nothing whatever about. Back in 1935, it probably stood for Impure Thoughts, and eighty years later, I think it probably means Unspecified Shenanigans. The official mind hates unspecified shenanigans almost as much as it hates jiggery-pokery, but most of all, it hates unlicensed fun, which is why a nation of grown adults must vacate drinking establishments at a defined hour as laid down by law, instead of making their own minds up.
What a great little country, and what a profoundly mad survey recently, revealing that the Irish are among the happiest people in the world. Are they really? I expect that will have a lot to do with being permanently half-drunk these days and who could blame them?
Of course, in the middle of all this madness, there comes a gem, as Ratzinger, in yet another Father Ted moment, announces his decision not to attend the Eucharistic Congress. Some people say he’s just throwing Enda Kenny filthies for saying rude things about him, but the downside is pretty grim. Printers face an uncertain future as orders are cancelled for Down with this sort of thing and Careful Now placards. Protesters in Knock, Armagh, Dublin and Cashel are left wondering how to pass the time as the Pope snubs Ireland in favour of Castelgandalfo in the balmy Italian early summer.
This is good. In 1979, the Polish Pope came to Ireland, before gigantic adoring crowds of a million people, unlike the projected maximum of 80 thousand expected at Knock, but after that visit, how many 33-year-olds do you know called John Paul?
Do we really need forty thousand babies called Ratzo? Yer mudder and meself got a bit carried away after the Eucharistic Exposition, as ya do, like. Behind the High Altar, like. Jaysiz.
I think not.
It’s mad. It’s mad. It’s all mad, but I don’t care, because I have my ticket for the Munster-Ulster game tomorrow, I’m going out to Thomond Park and I hope to see us progress to the semi-final of the Heineken Cup, though I can’t say with any conviction that we will. Based on recent form, Munster might not beat a scratch team of fifteen retired housewives captained by my Auntie Bridie, but time will tell. At least Paul O Connell is back, sorely missed last week. and Wallace is on the bench, surprisingly displaced by Tommy O Donnell, while Donnacha Ryan is back to match him on the other side.
Mafi and Earls at centre have never worked properly together and I’d worry about their partnership. Mafi has a tendency to be indisciplined, to do irrational things on the spur of the moment, and to get binned for stupid infringements, while Earls has yet to develop the leadership skills required. I’d also be worried about the scrum, but if Munster can neutralise Ferris (whose ankle injury remains a big question), it might be possible to frustrate Ulster penetration. This is a big call for O Donnell. Nobody will take pleasure from the news that Tommy Bowe must have an operation for removal of a haematoma, but at the same time, he would have been a huge threat to Munster as a big attacking back and it must be a relief that he isn’t in the squad. [Update: a spectacularly stupid observation, even by my standards. Thanks to all the commenters pointing out that Bowe has no yet been released by Ospreys.]
After last week’s performance against Leinster, I’d be slow to put any money on Munster, though of course I’ll be out there with the rest of them screaming my head off.
Tomorrow, I’ll come back with some sort of match report and maybe a few pictures.
Or maybe not, depending on my mood.