A headline in yesterday’s Evening Herald newspaper about a tree surgeon cutting his leg with a chainsaw at Chris de Burgh‘s home got me thinking about the Irish singer and his daughter, Rosanna, which then brought the band Toto to my mind. There are many acts from the eighties that I chance upon now and then and I don’t mind admitting that these encounters make me want to check out their music again. Chris de Burgh is not one of those acts. I’m actually embarrassed to reveal that I once owned a number of the Irishman’s albums on cassette. In my defence, your honour, I was young and foolish and only beginning the long process of learning about music. De Burgh was on the radio a lot at the time and I picked up some of those tapes in a secondhand shop. It’s true, nobody forced me to buy them or subsequently listen to them. And I must have listened to them a few times because lines from songs I haven’t heard in decades have been popping into my head over the last few hours. I don’t have any of those tapes anymore. I don’t even remember when or where I got rid of them. Fortunately, I don’t have any of his stuff on CD, vinyl or mp3, either, and I’m relieved to announce that I had absolutely no desire to check him out on YouTube
Last Wednesday night, I went to bed earlier than usual as I had a big day ahead of me on Thursday. I had to be up before 9.00am the next morning to try to buy tickets for the Cork leg of Bruce Springsteen’s visit to Ireland next year. Across the city, my friend John was going to try to get tickets for Limerick and later that day the two of us were travelling to Cork to see Wessex boy Frank Turner play Cyprus Avenue on the opening night of a short trip around Ireland. We’d already seen Frank play a storming set at Wembley Arena in March this year and we caught The Boss in top form in Dublin in July. Unfortunately I awoke at four in the morning with a terrible pain in my stomach and made a few journeys to the bathroom to talk to God on the great white telephone before somehow managing to secure tickets for Springsteen in Cork. John got the tickets for Limerick as well and then I told him about my eventful night. We agreed that I’d go back to bed and would only make the journey south if I made a recovery. I didn’t
Ireland’s television network became the latest in Europe to make the switch from analogue to digital yesterday. I much prefer the higher quality of picture and the greater choice of channels that digital TV offers, though there are also certain things about watching the telly before the arrival of digital that I’ll miss. The first TV set that arrived in my family home, a black and white Ferguson 21-inch, didn’t get a lot of use for the first few years. You see, we only had the one channel until a second one appeared in 1978. RTE had been going since 1961 and programmes didn’t start until about five in the afternoon and finished well before midnight. I remember watching lots of cartoons, cop shows and sitcoms around that time and all in black and white. We got our first colour telly around 1985 and a VCR a few years later. I didn’t get access to the BBC and Channel 4 until I moved into Limerick city about twenty years ago
Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are about as crumpled as my scoreboard t-shirt after Germany’s October goal-fest in Dublin last Friday. As you can see, I was pretty busy changing scores and was delighted to finally put something under Ireland’s flag after updating the German side half a dozen times. We Irish are renowned for our hospitality to visitors and our football team certainly showed their counterparts the meaning of Gemütlichkeit at the Aviva Stadium. The title of this post refers to the relentless onlaught by the German players on the Irish goal on either side of half time. It’s also the title of a song by The Raveonettes from Demark and is taken from 2007′s Lust, Lust, Lust album. It’s one of their more punkier numbers and the next four songs all have their roots in that genre. The Ramones used the German word for “lightning war” for the title of their 1976 debut single and it was one of the songs The Beautiful South chose to cover on 2004′s Golddiggas, Headnodders & Pholk Songs
The German football team is coming to Dublin tonight to take on their Irish counterparts as both countries take another step towards automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Germany have won both their games so far and Ireland left it extremely late to take all three points in Kazakhstan in the only match they’ve played. The Germans have a stronger squad and a better qualifying record than Ireland and will start the game as favourites. The Irish team has been further weakened by injuries to some of our more experienced players and I think it’s safe to say that we’d be delighted with a point tonight. I’m making the trip to Dublin today to see the game and the picture above shows the t-shirt that I’ll be wearing at the match. The flags and numbers are attached by velcro strips and can be easily changed to match the score. Unfortunately, I lost some of the numbers on the previous occasion I wore the t-shirt, so I’ll have to use an upside-down seven if the score is 1-1 at any stage. The score of the four songs below sees Ireland comfortably winning by a margin of 3-1
It’s Good Friday today and yet again all the pubs in Ireland will be closed until just before lunchtime tomorrow. It’s been like this all my life, though I have drank porter in Irish pubs on this day in the past. Two years ago, I did so legally and I’m going to be supping legal pints in a licensed premises this evening as well. Alcohol will actually be available today on trains and at train station bars, but only for people who produce a valid train ticket as proof of travel that day. I’ve no idea why commuters are given this privilege, as travelling by train is the safest form of journey you could take. However, there’s another option available for connoisseurs of drink in four Irish cities today. For some reason, greyhound racing is also exempt from Good Friday restrictions, presumably because it makes the sport more interesting. The four lucky venues are Galway Greyhound Stadium, Limerick Greyhound Stadium, Curraheen Park, Cork, and Harold’s Cross, Dublin. For just under €40, you get a four-course meal, admission & a race programme. You also get a drinks service and someone to take your bets. I was there a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it, though only two of my dogs won. Hopefully, Jesus can bring me better luck today
A few weeks ago, my friend John and I caught the first in what promises to be a busy few months of checking out some of our favourite songwriters at various venues around the British Isles. First up was Randy Newman who played two gigs at Dublin’s Vicar St. at the start of March. We had hoped to catch him there a couple of years ago, but he caught a sore throat and had to cancel. On the opening night this time, he began with Mama Told Me Not To Come and it was obvious that he was under the weather again and should probably have heeded the song’s advice. Fortunately, his head cold only affected him on a few songs and the rest of the show made me forget my own dose of the man ‘flu for a couple of hours
An intoxicating mix of chemistry, biology & Celtic folk music for Ireland’s national saint. NPR’s Adam Cole creates a modern Irish folk song that traces the development of brewer’s yeast and the subsequent effects of alcohol on the brain and the body. His witty ditty also goes some way towards explaining the next day’s hangover. Happy St Patrick’s Day to one and all around the world. Sláinte!