With the exception of a graveyard at midnight as the town clock begins to toll the advent of the witching hour – as you arrive home to find Pikey’s loading half of your belongings into the back of an 89 Ford Transit which has no tax, insurance or NCT, but which does have a miniature statue of the Blessed Virgin on the dashboard, bless them – is there anything more forlorn than the drinks section of a supermarket after 10pm, one minute past, say?
Five minutes earlier your were in the company of wines, beers and sprits from the four corners of the planet. There’s wine from the Rio Grande, Moorish looking Spanish lager, black Irish porter,
as dark as the grave wherein our friends are laid, Heineken cans with their iffy new design, award winning Scottish whisky, brewed far from the madding crowds in the Highlands, moonshine from Utah, ok, I made that one up, young Jack Daniel in his handsome bottle and XXX Polish beer which vows to collapse at least one of your livers – or your money back.
But no sooner does the clock strike ten than security guards in riot gear are beating you over the head with baseball bats and skull dragging you along the floor before cordoning off the drinks aisle with those horrific garden railing looking things.
They then adorn the beer with hideous black bin liners. “They’re putting burkas on the beer,” sighed a fellow slave to the vine.
Meantime, we are fast approaching the dreaded day when there will be no meaningful sport on the telly for almost three months.
This weekend there will be a few relegation battles in the Premier Division and Leinster will play in the European Cup final followed by United and Barcelona in the European Cup final at Wembley. We can also look forward to the battle for supremacy between Munster and Leinster in Thomond Park.
Will injury-prone Brian O’Driscoll play in the European Cup final? He’s due to meet the Queen this week. O’Driscoll, incidentally, has the unique distinction of being the only international rugby skipper in the western hemisphere that didn’t shag her former daughter-in-law — in a minefield, going forward.
But following the European duels and the relegation dogfights there will be nothing.
Of course, they’ll try to persuade you that tennis, and rugby league, the fast food version of the oval ball game, golf, and Gaelic football are sports, but in our hearts we know the above are not really sports, merely activities designed to keep the multitudes from open revolt until the fixture list for the football is published in early August.
Following the visit of Her Maj maybe we should all settle down and watch the cricket, by jove. Baseball is another option – wish they’d stop spitting constantly, though.
There’s the European Elite Boxing Championships from Ankara, Turkey next month. Last time out, the boys won five medals, finishing in second spot in the medals table behind the hosts Russia at the Ice Palace in Moscow.
However, RTE have no interest in showing anything from Ankara live. I can understand this to a certain extent as you can’t have a national broadcaster traumatising the population with live coverage of Irish athletes beating the best in the world.
Boxing is the parallel universe of Irish sport, a collective Roy Keane, punching above its weight against the tide of inferiority and under achievement.
I reckon that United will win the European Cup at Wembley, that the ghosts of Best, Charlton and Law will infuse the class of 2011 with the confidence to overcome the Catalan giants.
In our minds eye you can still see those grainy black & white images of Best cruising past the Benfica defence – and keeper – and slotting home the first goal of extra time in the 1968 final at the same venue.
Of course, Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi, cut from the same cloth as Best, is quite capable of doing the same thing. The diminutive Argentinean single-handedly redeemed the first leg of the European Cup semi-final with Real Madrid with two strikes of sublime quality following 90 minutes of cynicism and violence recently.
El Clasico? El Bashico more like.
The conservatism and paranoia of Madrid boss José Mourinho contributed enormously to that shameful eve at the Bernabéu. Madrid, a club steeped in a glorious history, will not tolerate philistines in their midst. The interpreter and his days are numbered.
Prior to the battle of the Bernabéu, some Madrid players, under instructions from Mourinho I have no doubt, had warned Messi during the Spanish Cup final that he would pay the price if he came out of his shell, but the gallant world numero uno refused to be intimidated by the playground bullies.
Still, I don’t think that Messi will be enough for Barca. Forty three years ago United claimed this trophy from the ashes of the Munich air disaster with the Busby Babes Mark 2.
Likewise, I reckon the hand of history will be on Barcelona’s shoulders at Wembley. History also helps those who help themselves – and you don’t need a FIFA coaching badge to know that if you aim for the heart of the Barca defence that they’ll begin to wobble.
But then there will be nothing. Then we will enter the epoch which antropologists refer to as the Close Season, an interval invented by women and the social services to help us recall the names of our children.
“Who owns that young lad out on the landing?”
“He’s your son,” hissed her indoors.
“Lord save us. He’s coming on in leaps and bounds since Torres inked that deal at Stamford Bridge.”
I suppose we could always go fishing.