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I Almost Worked for a Cult 7

Shit gets weird

Ok, before shit gets weird, officially, I have to explain where we were at in terms of our immigrant status. Because we went out before securing employment, we entered the country on a 90 day tourist visa. We were about 45 -50 days in to this visa at this point. All the schools that we were talking to were going to fly us to Japan for our visa run and were covering our work permits. The school we were now going to visit were no different.

This school, let’s call it Sunshine Academy from here on out, offered to fly us to Japan for a week after term started, once we fulfilled all their requirements.

The morning of the interview was an absolute scorcher. I had brought a suit from home to wear on such an occasion. 100% wool.

I’d taken about six steps outside the apartment before that first cool bead of sweat started its doomed journey from the nape of my neck all the way down to the crack of my arse. By the time I got to the air conditioned train, it was way too late. My shirt was ruined. It was soaked through. I’d have to soldier on and wear my jacket over my soaking wet shirt.

I was incredibly uncomfortable and dehydrated. When I’m dehydrated I completely lose all connections with reality. I stare in to space, I don’t pay attention to people, I just generally disassociate. I think this was why I didn’t have a complete melt down later on in the day.

We were supposed to meet the school secretary, Mrs Joy (fake name, remember?) at the train station. On the way out we were treated to our first views of rural Korea. I say rural – there is something deeply unsettling upon viewing a fifty story apartment block out on its own surrounded by rice fields. It just didn’t seem right.

Our train stopped in a town that looked like a dystopian version of Mullingar. Well, a more dystopian version. There were neon church signs everywhere, lit up in the daytime. I could see the tower of a casino poking up behind a hospital that was so dirty if you looked at it long enough you’d get an eye infection. The pavements were all cracked and overgrown with weeds. Herself assumed that there must have been a refuse collector’s general strike. Rubbish bags were strewn on street corners and outside bars and restaurants. The town stank of rotting meat.

An elderly woman with heavily contoured makeup waved over at us. Herself asked me if it was Mrs Joy. I read a lot of crime fiction, but my skills of deduction are absolutely atrocious. I argued that it couldn’t be her. My reasoning? Well, I deduced that due to the fact that she was sitting on the bonnet of a modified two-door Honda Integra, smoking a fag, she couldn’t be a school secretary.

My poor judgement struck again.

Of course it was her.

Nothing about the next few weeks was going to be normal. Looking back, we should have turned on our heels there and then, but no, we were open to new and strange experiences. Our parochial Irish prejudices had to be left at home, where they belonged.
Next time: Shit gets weirder.

Follow the series from the beginning:

I Almost Worked for a Cult 1 

I Almost Worked for a Cult 2

I Almost Worked for a Cult 3

I Almost Worked for a Cult 4

I Almost Worked for a Cult 5

I Almost Worked for a Cult 6

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 6

John Bull Recruitment

Our “honeymoon period” ended after five weeks. We’d sort of acclimatized to our new surroundings, and it was time to start work. We’d siphoned off enough cash for two plane tickets home, just in case things didn’t work out.

Herself was an excellent money manager. She had worked out that we could spend another month tops, fluting around and seeing the country before admitting defeat and heading home. Although, we decided that defeat was not an option, and began to apply for jobs.

Do you like dealing with recruiters? I don’t. They’re usually full of shit. Recruiters for English language schools in Korea are the worst recruiters that I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with. They operated on a level of bullshit that would fertilize a 100 acre farm. They were also some of the most rude and insulting bastards that I’ve ever had a professional relationship with.

All of the recruitment calls were done through Skype. I had to turn my camera on so they could get a good look at me, and have a good judge of my abilities through my appearance. They never had their camera’s on, the fucks. None of their questions focussed on my previous work experience. All they were interested in were my looks and nationality. It was like a mixture of Your Face or Mine and Immigrants X-Factor.

One recruiter asked that I change my nationality to English so that the schools would look more favourably on me. I pushed him on this, asking why it’d make a difference. His response was that the Irish had a reputation for drinking too much and being unreliable. He obviously had never been on a stag weekend in Bristol, the cunt.

In fact, I really took issue with the alcoholism accusation. This dude must have been a recluse, because I have never in my life experienced the levels of drunkenness that I have on the streets of Seoul. The Koreans love to drink way more than us Irish. This isn’t a sweeping statement, it’s an undisputable fact – they are proper piss-heads. Maybe it was just that summer, but it was as if Seoul was hosting the projectile vomiting Olympics, and events were being held on the corner of every street.

We didn’t deal with that guy again. Nothing like being forced into calling yourself English to end a professional relationship.

Another charming guy informed me that I was too big, fat and hairy, and that I’d scare the children. I laugh about that now, but at the time I was genuinely hurt by it. I was wearing two t-shirts on that call. Ahem…

Both of us soon realized that we were making a silly mistake during this process. We were interviewing separately, when we should have been interviewing as a team. Interviewing for different jobs in different locations was not going to work. We thought it’d be like home and that we could commute from our apartment to wherever we eventually ended up working. It was naiveté on our part.

Herself looked up a solution to this problem and found out that some schools liked to hire couples. It saved the school money on apartment costs (they covered the rent and bills etc.) and probably guaranteed at least one full year of teaching service. As far as the schools were concerned, couples tended not to make any rash decisions. Well, most couples didn’t.

We did an interview on Skype for a couple’s position in an area not too far from the DMZ. The recruiter got back to us twenty minutes after the call ended to say the school would like to meet us.

Shit was about to get weird.

Next time: Shit gets weird.

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 5

Safety Dance

We explored our surroundings over the next couple of days, taking long (and musical) train rides to every corner of Seoul. I was amazed at how many crosses illuminated the sky at night. I also couldn’t figure out their obsession with Dunkin’ Donuts. Although, I did eventually succumb to the temptations of the latter.

The people were quite friendly and welcoming. It seemed like an extremely safe city. We never once experienced any violence or crime, and this was in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Taxi drivers kept their entire float in the open compartment beside their gear sticks. That astounded me. Could you imagine a taxi-driver in Dublin doing that? I’d say not even the Monk himself would chance it.

We witnessed people withdrawing large sums of cash from ATM’s and walking nonchalantly up the street counting their huge, colourful wads of loot. In front of everyone!! Imagine that at home? You’d be dead before you got past the first note.

In train stations people plugged in their phones at communal docking stations and went off to get coffees, leaving the phones behind to charge. Nobody seemed to notice, or care.

We both suffered horrifically from jet-lag in the first couple of days. Our sleep pattern was all over the place. Luckily we didn’t have to stay in looking at the walls while we went through this. There were plenty of 24 hour amenities in the city.

We were walking home from one such amenity, when we witnessed something really strange. A businessman was fast asleep on a bench outside a pub. You could smell the strong soju fumes coming off him from fifty yards away.  He was on his back, snoring, and his wallet had fallen out of his pocket, exposing a huge wad of notes and all his cards. He must have just visited the ATM, there was a nice chunk of change in that wallet. His phone, a high-end Samsung, was lying precariously on his chest.

We were both shocked that this man was out in the open in the middle of the night in such a vulnerable state, and debated whether we should help him or not. I thought that if I shook him awake he might get a fright seeing my hairy spud head when he opened his eyes, so we decided to leave him be.

We spoke about it back in the apartment for an hour or so. It was just so strange to us. Later on, at four in the morning, I was still wide awake and decided to go for a stroll to tire myself out, maybe pop in to the 7/11 for a few bits. On my way down to the shop the business man was still on his bench, undisturbed. All his possessions were still there too. It was unbelievable.

I swear, if I ever had any ambitions as a criminal, I would have cleaned up in South Korea. This experience really made me feel very safe. It was a feeling I hadn’t ever experienced while living in Dublin.
Next time: John Bull Recruitment

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 4

Seoul Food

The flight over was the longest haul flight I’d ever taken. Previous to that, it had been an eight hour trip from Paris to Havana in 2008. This was an eight hour trip to Dubai, a three hour stopover, and then a further ten hours to Seoul.

The stop-over in Dubai was horrific. Let’s just leave it at that.

The first thing that I noticed when we landed in Incheon airport, I hadn’t been paying attention on the plane, was the amount of Irish priests and nuns that were queueing up in front of us to get through immigration. Surely Korea was Buddhist, no? I was confused. I was also uncomfortable. I tried very hard not to make any eye contact with the clergy. I was sure if they saw my big spud head they’d know I was Irish. I didn’t want to get in to any awkward conversations about mass.

We were staying in an apartment near Dongdaemon for our first few weeks. We carried all our impossibly awkward luggage on to the subway and set off on our two hour journey. We both fell asleep immediately on the train. Our stop was the last one, I think, so we were safe enough. The train played a little song when we reached our stop. That woke us up. I love that song. Actually, the train had a few different songs, one for transfers, one for end of the line, one for taking off. All of them were hits.

We met Kang, the apartment owner, in the train station. He very kindly offered to carry one of our bags up and down a series of extremely steep hills to our apartment. The heat was unbearable. It was in the high 30’s, Celsius, and it was close to 1 in the morning.

We thanked Kang for his help and collapsed on the bed in the apartment. There was a large Samsung air-con unit over the bed that herself figured out. We cooled off and begun to think about getting ourselves fed. 

I was famished. We hadn’t eaten since the plane, a vile, cold, pasta dish. Herself said that there was a real 24 hour culture in Korea and we shouldn’t have to look too long for somewhere to eat. I had to take her word for it, I hadn’t done my research. We showered and changed and ventured out in to the sticky July Korean night.

Sticky July Korean night would be a great name for an electro band, wouldn’t it?

The biggest challenge we faced initially was not being able to use Google maps on our phones. Apparently it required a Korean ip address to gain access to Google servers in Korea. I tried using Apple maps instead to find a McDonalds, but it being Apple maps, we got lost in five minutes or so.

Herself took charge, and I was damn glad of it. We weren’t going to a McDonalds, we were getting Korean food. She chose a restaurant at random. I wasn’t convinced. It looked like a cross between a taxi office and a soup kitchen, but my God, the food was fucking delicious! I took back, silently, every ignorant assumption I’d made about the food in Korea. It cost the equivalent of four euro and was served with about five different side dishes. I’d never had kimchi before that night. It stank like farts, but tasted amazing.

Night one. Food’s good. Everything was going to be great!

Next time: Safety Dance

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 3

Promises to Claude

I handed my notice in at work on the first Monday in June. I was actually quite disappointed to be leaving. I really liked that job. I worked with some really cool people in an interesting industry.

The question I kept getting asked in the office was, “Are you mad? Why would you want to teach English in Korea?”

I suppose the most logical answer there would have been was: “Because as a non-Korean speaker, I’d be able to do fuck all else, unless there is a shortage of big hairy men to dance in fetish bars over there. And I know there isn’t. I looked it up. You’ve to go to Japan for that craic!”

We began the horrible process of packing up all our shit for our moving day. One of our friends was getting married in Malta roughly around the same time. We ended up moving out of our house and going to Malta on the same day.

I cannot describe how stressful it was for me to leave my car full of all of our most valuable possessions in a Dublin Airport carpark for seven days. There was a PC, all my books, clothes, our kitchen equipment, lamps, my PS3…the list goes on. We were like the Beverly Hillbillies arriving in to the long-term carpark.

After the wedding, I dropped herself to her parents’ house down the country and stayed a few days.

I was putting off going home for as long as I could. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go home, I just hated the thoughts of living under someone else’s rules for a few days. Sharing with herself is fine, I’m used to the routine, but sharing with people I hadn’t lived with in years was bound to be a challenge.

As it turned out, it was really nice to stay in the house for a few weeks. I’d never actually spent an extended period of time there before. It wasn’t the house that I grew up in. My parents had moved there two years previously. It was never, and never will be, my home I suppose. It’s my parents’ house. Home for me is with herself.

The dog, Claude (he said I could use his real name and promised not to sue) had a few questions about Korea. Apparently he had read somewhere that they, the Koreans, had an appetite for dog-meat. In a frank and honest exchange, I assured him that I wouldn’t eat dog-meat while I was there. This pleased him. He agreed to give me his blessing and wished me the best of luck.

Five minutes later Claude said he’d take it back unless I gave him a piece of the sandwich that I was eating. I did, and the universe was balanced once more. Claude would repeat this series of ultimatums until the morning of my departure. He was a master of manipulation.

My parents dropped us to the airport. I was quite upset saying goodbye. They weren’t the best with technology and I was worried that we wouldn’t get to talk as often as I’d like. They assured me that they’d be better at texting and would figure out Skype. Herself was a great help. She assured me that everything would be fine and invited me to go for a disgusting pint of airport Guinness.

I got one last text on my phone before we left Ireland. It was from Claude.

It read: “Where’d you hide the food you prick?” The blessing was once again revoked.

Next time: Seoul Food

Follow the series from the beginning:

I Almost Worked for a Cult 1

I Almost Worked for a Cult 2

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Mustard Tongue

I fucking curse a lot.

Probably too much for polite fucking company.

It can make people uncomfortable, but fuck it, I don’t care.

I fucking grew up listening to older men fucking cursing all the fucking time in fucking football pitches, on fucking building sites, and in the carparks of fucking churches.

Monkey see, monkey fucking do.

I don’t know any fucking better.

It’s just a fucking word.

Words don’t fucking matter anymore?

Do they?

No, they fucking don’t.

Nobody is fucking listening.

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 2

Where, why & what

We’d had enough of Dublin. It was time to go.

But where?

We were both from opposite ends of the country and couldn’t decide on a new county to move to. We came to an obvious conclusion in our search for middle ground. We’d emigrate. Try living abroad for a while.

I never had a desire to leave Ireland for an extended period of time in my life. I loved home. I’d turned 30 in 2015, and I suppose I reckoned that if I didn’t at least try it now, I never would. Now that I have lived abroad, I think that it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. By immersing myself in a culture and environment that was completely alien to my own, I inherited a more open view of the world. I know that sounds like a big pile of wank, but your perspective really changes when you start to be treated as an outsider.

So where would we go? Well, the way we made this decision is bound to enrage the more uptight and meticulous planners who are reading this – we tossed a coin. Cool, right?

No. It wasn’t cool.

We should have been more conscientious with our planning, but fuck it, nobody died.

We had two destinations in mind, South Korea and Canada. Our Canadian visas had been approved in January, the South Korean visa would be approved once we arrived and started our jobs. We tossed the coin down in her parents’ house on the June bank holiday weekend. One toss. No take-backs.

I was secretly hoping for Canada to win. I’d never been to North America. Come to think of it, I hadn’t ever been to Asia either, but I spoke English, so I assumed Canada would be the best place for me, for us, to end up.

Of course, South Korea won the day. I let out a big exasperated sigh of joy. We would be off to the Far East. Honestly, I was excited, but also I was secretly shitting myself. I had absolutely no idea what to expect over there.

My partner sent me links to “wacky” American vloggers who documented their experiences in South Korea on YouTube. It really, really put me off. Their apartments looked tiny. The food looked shit. The American vloggers were loud, whiny and condescending. Like they were explaining everything to a deaf three year old with developmental issues. I didn’t want to have to put up with this nonsense for a full year. Look, if something is really different, or really shit, don’t explain it in a patronising, shocked manner. Make a joke, you cunt! The vloggers were pushed to one side. I’d do some old fashioned research myself. Actually, that’s something that I’ve yet to get around to doing…

So, Korea. What would we do for work? Well, teach English I suppose. My Korean language skills weren’t exactly up to scratch for getting a job in their Tesco equivalent.

Myself and herself completed a TEFL course from one of the more recognised TEFL organizations. I enjoyed the course. It really encouraged you to be as creative as possible in your lesson plans, and from the testimonials of other users, it seemed like a very rewarding and fun job. It was settling the anxiety that I’d brought upon myself by watching a particularly negative series of vlogs.

Teaching English. Couldn’t be too hard says you. Wha?

Next time: Promises to Claude

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I Almost Worked for a Cult 1

Farewell Dublin

Remove the almost and replace the letter l with the letter n. Now you have the subtext for 90% of inspirational LinkedIn posts from covert recruiters.

Not a great way to start the series, a dig at LinkedIn. Although a recruiter is mostly to blame for this entire saga. Now, I’m not saying recruiters are inherently dishonest or anything like that. I’m sure a few of them have some kind of integrity.


The title of this series is a bold statement, and I know that people who know me personally will assume that I’m being hyperbolic. I assure you that I’m not. If I was, I would have called it, “Nazi’s made me work for an alien death cult!”, or something like that.

In this series, the names of people and institutions have been changed, for obvious reasons! I’ll use “herself” and “she” when referring to my partner, not because I’m a misogynist, but because I don’t feel comfortable making up another name for her. It’d be weird. I’ve also been given permission to do so, so trust me – it’s kosher.

Another reason for changing names is because to this day my partner and I still joke that the cult will track us down and carry out some kind of ritual sacrifice on us. Sure, the odds of this happening are quite high, but I’m not willing to take the chance. 

Actually, can you imagine a parish priest explaining that at a funeral? That’d be great wouldn’t it? “And just like the early Christians, he was chopped up to tiny little pieces and fed to a herd of sheep. And he felt no pain, sure wasn’t God with him the entire time.” One thing that the Catholic Church and Marx did agree on – religion is the opium of the masses.

Sorry, I digress, it’s a bad habit.
In April 2015 my partner and I were fed up with the Dublin rat-race. We lived in a two-up two-down in the Liberties in Dublin 8. The rent was colossal. I was under the assumption that the house was sitting on top of a huge natural gas reserve to justify the price we paid each month. It certainly wasn’t for the crappy low-end IKEA furniture, the leaky stained ceilings, the toilet that never fucking flushed right, or the kitchen that was more of a fire hazard than a Californian hillside during a drought. 

We were one of thousands of young Irish couples living in that state of social denial that you needed to be in the centre of Dublin to make a life for yourself. You needed to be in Dublin to remain relevant. Did you fuck. We weren’t seeing a penny of our wages and we were bloody miserable.

A change was needed.

A drastic one.

I’m not sure that I was ready at the time for how drastic that change would turn out to be.

Next time: Where, why & what.

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The Barber

A Short Tale of Horror

A Short Tale of Horror

There was a queue. Peter hated queue’s. His least favourite letter of the alphabet.

A stack of magazines and tabloid newspapers sat on top of the sturdy, low mahogany table. He wouldn’t be caught dead reading any of that basic drivel. As far as Peter was concerned it was just pointless small talk in print. These cheap publications did not deal with the real issues of the day.

He had a copy of this week’s Economist tucked under his arm. Peter was a socially conscious man and wanted to make sure everybody in his local town knew it. Sure, he was a country bumpkin, but he had spent time in the big city. He was better now. He had raised himself above his station – he would command respect. Peter adjusted his thick, non-prescription glasses and unfurled the crumpled magazine and began to read.

The barber called him to the chair just as he finished off an intriguing article on the worsening situation in Catalonia. He left his magazine on the table, removed his thick woolen jumper

“What can I do for you my friend?” drawled the barber in his broad country accent.

“I’ll have a number two on the back and sides, blend it in to the length on the top, keep the length on top please. Oh, and a beard trim, with scissors.”

The barber nodded and smiled and wrapped a tight smock around Peter’s shoulders.

An elderly man entered the shop, took a seat and picked up Peter’s copy of the Economist. Peter noticed this in the mirror as the barber worked on the side of his head.

“Sorry! Excuse me! That’s actually my own magazine that I brought from home!”

The old man raised a hand in apology and placed the magazine on the empty seat behind him. The barber gave Peter a look of disappointment, which Peter confused for jealousy.

“I have to bring that with me when I get my hair cut at home man, you know? I mean, the Mirror and the Sun? I couldn’t read that shite.”

The barber smiled. “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

“It’s just so blaah! You know? Like, why would I care if some celebrity was doing coke off a midget’s head in a nightclub? That doesn’t concern me. I pay attention to the real issues. I pay attention to political situations in the world man, I pay attention to society. Leicester drew one all at Stoke? Who cares, man?”

The barber uh-huhed and ah-hahed, all the while working his razor on Peter’s head.

“People are starving in Sudan! Leo Varadkar runs half marathons? So what! Donald Trump is destroying America! These issues need to be paid attention to, you know?”

The barber grunted. Peter knew that he was educating the man. The barber placed his razor back on its hook.

“How’s the hair look?” he asked.

Peter turned his head from left to right. It was a fantastic hair-cut. If he did just as good a job on the beard, he’d be getting a tip, or maybe even a positive Google review.

“Perfect man!”

The barber took out his scissors from the sterilizing glass and commenced work on Peter’s balm-softened beard.

“What about people who read tabloids? What do you think of them?” asked the barber.

Peter mulled this over for a second.

“I feel sorry for them, man. They’re asleep, you know? They just live their mundane lives, not aware that there’s a whole world out there for them to explore and shape to their preference. They prefer to take it at face value. That upsets me, man.”

The barber nodded to the elderly man waiting for his hair cut. The old man got up, bolted the door of the barber shop and pulled down the blinds.

“Closing early?” asked Peter.

“Just not taking in anyone else until after I have my lunch. Now, I’ll just edge the rest of this with the straight razor.”

Peter was impressed with the authenticity of this beard trim. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends about this experience after work the next Thursday while sipping some micro-brewed nitro stout.

The barber finished off the shaping and asked Peter his opinion.

“I love it!”

The barber smiled. “Great, oh wait, I missed a bit!”

He grabbed Peter roughly by the hair, pulled it back and dug the blade deep in to Peter’s neck severing all his major arteries. The mirror was covered in blood. He turned to the old man, brandishing the razor with a manic grin on his face.

The old man chuckled, “Jaysus, you dragged that out Sweeney. Now, bring him downstairs and let’s eat. I’m starving!”

He took the copy of the Economist with him and threw it in the bin.

Check out some more chilling stories from The Gammy Eye here:

Sean Nós-feratu

Love, Vacuously

Three Short Tales of Horror

 

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Fitter? Flabbier? More Seductive?

Part 6 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

Weight.

What do you think about when you read the word weight?

Do you think about body weight?

Do you think about weights in a gym?

Do you think about delaying an action until a period of time has passed, because you paid very little attention in school and are now illiterate?

With me it’s a combination of one and two. I’ve always enjoyed weight training. It’s something that feels natural and rewarding.

Now, it’s not exactly something I do religiously. I tend to do it agnostically I suppose. I’m aware it’s there, and I’ll take part, but only if I really have to…usually when I get too fat to fit in to clothes that are available in in non-specialist shops.

I probably wouldn’t ever exercise if I lived in America. The ability to buy clothes in sizes with more x’s in it than a goodnight text from your ‘oul lass would make going to the gym a non-essential part of my life. I probably wouldn’t survive if I lived in America for that matter.

At the moment, I’m in a good phase of getting regular exercise.

(Before anyone decides to leave: This isn’t a “Hooray for me! I’m not as fat a bastard as I used to be” piece. Bear with me!)

My energy levels are good. My mood is good. I’m sleeping well. I’m feeling great, if I’m honest.

However, there is one thing bothering me.

Gyms.

I like going to the gym. I do. I just hate other people in the gym. Well, to specify, I hate certain other people in the gym.

First of all, I’ll explain what I’m like in the gym.

When I go to the gym I say hello to the guy at the check in desk. And that pretty much ends the human contact that I want to make in the gym. As you’ll no doubt know, if you’ve been reading my previous pieces, I’ve played quite a few team sports in my time. The gym isn’t a team sport, well unless you’re mental and do cross-fit, to me it’s a private and personal thing. I’m in there to achieve my own targets and goals. And that’s it.

I go in. I put on my headphones. I do my cardio. I stretch. I do my weight session. I stretch. I shower. I go home.

If I’m unsure whether a piece of equipment is in use, I’ll politely ask. I return my plates and dumbbells. I spray and wipe equipment. I bring a sweat towel.

I might take the odd photo of a significant milestone, like a big gain in a lift for example, but I’m not constantly wandering around aimlessly on my phone.

And that brings me to the first gym-gowlbag that annoys me. The person who is constantly on their phone, hogging benches or other equipment at busy times.

Yes, your hair is amazing. How would it not look amazing? You haven’t broken a sweat yet!

I remember one time asking a guy who was mid-way taking a selfie while lying down under a full barbell, if he was nearly finished using a bench. He said he wasn’t going to be for a while. I offered to take the photos for him while he lifted, then maybe I could use it when he finished. I expected a pissed-off passive aggressive response, but amazingly he said yes! I took a few snaps while he finished his set.

Not my best work if I’m honest, lighting was a bit harsh, and the lens didn’t give me many options to play around with depth of field. It was adequate at best.

The next gym-goon – the guy who thinks he owns the gym, and every other member is just a guest.

Do you know these people? The people who bagsy/call dibs/reserve (delete where appropriate) every single piece of equipment all at once. There’s a special place in hell reserved for these maniacs.

I remember one time sitting on one of those giant inflatable balls over near the stretching area, wondering, “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this yoke?”, when I observed a very strange interaction between two other members. A youngish guy went over to use the lat pull down machine. A high-pitched voice squealed, “Don’t use that! I’m using that!” I turned my head to see the source of the squeal: a gigantic meat-head who was hanging by his feet from a bar in the ceiling, doing upside down sit-ups like he was training for an athletics meet in Transylvania. The young guy, turned around and told ‘Count Jacked-ula’ to politely fuck off. Well, the big man did this amazing flip, landed on his feet, ran over to the machine, pushed the young guy off, put the pin in to the heaviest weight, and begun to effortlessly bang out at least twenty reps in quick succession. He then floated back up to his bar to continue another set of upside down crunches that was so extreme, and so intense, I got a brief contact-high six-pack.

It was impressive like, but what a wanker. He could have waited his turn like everyone else.

Last gym-gargoyle to suffer my ire – the smug-buff-strutter.

There is nothing more insufferable in a gym than that ridiculously ripped shit-head that walks around with a self-satisfied look on their face, sneering at all us normal fatties. You know the type – neon spandex, t-shirt that looks like it was crafted by an agitated tree surgeon, spray-tan, roid back-ne.

These guys shouldn’t be allowed in to gen-pop. They should be in the maximum-insecurity wing. Because that’s what that is at the end of the day – a manifestation of their own insecurities. Anyone who laughs at someone who is at the beginning of their fitness journey, or simply trying again after a few false-starts, is a massive dick.

A couple of weeks ago I was waiting to use the leg-press machine. The guy currently using it had all the gym-rat paraphernalia – a water bottle that could solve an Ethiopian drought, an arm-band for his phone/mp3 player, liquid chalk, belt, gloves, straps, and an outfit so brightly coloured and tight it would have made Macho Man Randy Savage blush back in the day. After he screamed through his last ten reps and wiped himself off, he got up, looked me up and down, and smirked. “You might want to take a few plates off there mate in case you hurt yourself!”

I’ll try and describe the rage I felt at that particular moment. Have you ever stepped on an upturned plug and slipped and fall at the same time? After making a very good point in an argument with your significant other? In front of them? It’s a complete loss of credibility, physical pain and embarrassment all at once. It’s an anger that is completely internalized, but furious and real, and usually expelled with a hurtful comment, or silent sobbing later in the car.

This guy had looked at my couch-bod and made an assumption. I had a glance at the load on the machine. It was a lot. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to lift it, but my ability had just been questioned. The need for revenge, mixed with pure ignorance, is better than any performance enhancing drug my friends.

I nonchalantly shrugged and settled in to the apparatus. I managed ten solid reps. My head nearly popped off my shoulders, but I wasn’t proving that dick right. I finished off the set, removing approx. forty kilos both times, finishing my last ten reps with a hundred kilos. When I was done, my legs were like jelly that had been hit by a nuclear warhead and shat on by a passing magpie.

Throughout the remainder of my workout I kept catching the guy looking over at me, grinning. He knew. He knew I’d almost given myself a coronary to save face.

The cunt.

I had to wait for Mr Wonderful to finish his workout and leave before I attempted to go home. I was genuinely concerned that I’d need to be airlifted out the window of the gym. The story would end up in the section of the newspapers reserved for the light-hearted and ridiculous events that occurred to the nation’s poor. I was sure my legs would buckle if I attempted the stairs. The last thirty minutes of my work out that day were spent over in the stretching area silently screaming in pain.

You’d think at my age I’d be comfortable enough in myself to ignore a stupid sleight like that. Who’s the bigger idiot here?

Me, obviously.

We have a toxic relationship, me and the gym. You see, if I had equipment of my own at home, I’d never use it. I need to be in a paid subscription service to get angry about not using and pressurise myself to attend weekly.

I just have to get bigger headphones and maybe some kind of asshole repellent spray, to give myself the solitary I require while exercising. It would negate my need to complain.

That, or I could just wake my fat ass up earlier in the morning and go when it’s quieter..

catch up on previous entries in this series here:

We bring the ruck, us!

Half-Nelson, Full-Nelson, Willie-Nelson

Full Kit Chancer

Ollie & Folly in The GAA

Should I have been a contender?

Featured

Desk Hopping Fuck the World

A poem about the useless fucker in the office

Desk hopping is a fabulous way

For you to look like you’re busy throughout the work day

Have a visit to each department, be obnoxious and risqué

and block an unemployed graduate’s potential opportunity for pay

 

You can do what you like without any fears

Your contract’s watertight – you’ve been here for years

If you’re asked to return to work, just break down in tears

report the offender to HR and ruin their careers

 

Spend most of your time sampling colleagues’ free treats

and bore them to death with tales of your mundane weekend feats

Broadcast contrarian opinions on immigrants and ‘benefit cheats’

Then rush back for five minutes at your neglected spreadsheets

 

See more poetry from the Gammy Eye here:

Working weak

Wheels Coming off the Bandwagon

Faster than a speeding couplet

Sean Nós-feratu

Balls of Limerick

Featured

Off-Season

I’m back, and as mediocre as ever!

Hi guys!

As you’re probably aware, I’ve been quite quiet for the previous four weeks.

This is due to some busy weeks in the ‘ol real world.

I won’t bore you with the details!

Anyway, this is just a brief post to let you know I’ve been working away on more material and will be back with more regular posts starting this evening.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has been reading everything so far.

Keep your eyes peeled for more tales of woe from my sporting career, terrible poetry and short stories.

It’s messy, it’s all over the shop, but here – at least it’s not Peig.

Dara

 

Featured

We bring the ruck, us!

Part 5 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

Honestly, at this stage I’m beginning to realise that perhaps a life of professional sports may not have been for me.

The level of cringe that I attract could seriously damage the reputation of the club, team, or federation that I’d signed with.

This week’s piece tells the tale of a time where I didn’t do anything directly to embarrass myself, but a family member decided to intervene and make sure normal service resumed.

To begin this story, I must tell you about fourteen-year-old me. Fourteen-year-old me was a bit of a lost soul. I was in the second half of my second year in secondary (high) school in Saint Patrick’s College Cavan. All the seconds.

I hated ‘big’ school so far. It was too big. Plus, it was all boys. An all-boys school run by priests. It made Lord of the Flies look like an episode of Peppa Pig.

The homophobic bullying that went on in that school was ridiculous. I remember on my first day, fucking terrified as I was, I’d decided to go for a walk around the top two football pitches on the first break. Everyone else was walking in the opposite direction, and in my mind I’d made a good decision because I was trying to see if I could bump in to my older cousin for some guidance and protection. Every second person I met had a lovely greeting for me of ‘queer’ ‘gay boy’ ‘four-eyed queer’ etc. I didn’t know why they were doing this, I just assumed it was an unfriendly place in general. I wasn’t sure if I should be upset either. I was really, really confused by their reaction.

To be perfectly honest, when I was twelve, I didn’t quite know what gay meant (we’d no internet). I had an idea, it was the wrong idea, and I blame my mother for this. I remember when I was nine or ten I saw footage of a gay-pride march on the tv news. I asked mam what gay meant. My mother told me that being gay meant that you were very happy and special and she didn’t go in to any more important or vital details. She then proceeded to wrap me in another two layers of cotton wool.

I have an auntie with intellectual disabilities. My parents had always told us that she was special. My child’s brain picked up on the use of the word ‘special’ in my mother’s explanation and assumed that being ‘gay’ meant that you had special needs. I couldn’t believe that these animals in school were accusing someone of having special needs and laughing about it.

Fucking cavemen.

I eventually found my cousin and he informed me that I was walking around the ‘gay way’. You were supposed to walk around the same way as everyone else. He did say it didn’t make you gay, but it was best to do what everyone else was doing, otherwise you were liable to get abuse. And that pretty much summed up my first two years of secondary school, daily homophobic bullying for doing anything that was different from the crowd. Looking back, I can’t imagine how tough it must have been for anyone who was in that school and actually coming to terms with their own sexuality. It must have been absolute torture.

My decision to try and play rugby in the second half of second year gave the crowd even more ammo.

By the way, I finally learned what being gay meant when I was thirteen. I’ll thank Channel Four for that. Their late-night schedules were probably more responsible for Irish teenager’s sex-education in the 1990’s than any of the state’s educational authorities were.

Rugby. Rugby was the single best discovery of my teenage years. I loved it more than Limp Bizkit. I loved it more than a shift in the Carraig Springs. I loved it more than getting a quick glance at Lolo Ferarri on a Friday night in the small sitting room.

Finally, I’d found a sport that actually suited me. I always had fairly good hands. Catching and holding on to a ball was never a problem for me. Lightning fast pace was something I lacked though, and controlling a ball with my feet while running, well, let’s just say I wasn’t exactly proficient at it. So, rugby, where all you had to do was hold the ball and run, that bloody suited me.

I discovered something else about myself when playing the game. I found out that before I went in to a tackle, that if I lowered my shoulder just enough and drove upwards at the point of collision, I could knock my opponent on their arse. I think this was my favourite weapon in my arsenal while I played the game. Bouncing people was just so much fun. Not that I was an unstoppable force or anything, I just could do it now and again. The bigger the target the better. I loved the physical challenge. I relished it.

Playing rugby with County Cavan RFC was easily the best period in my teenage years and early twenties. It gave me huge confidence when I was in school, even though the gob-shites were giving me abuse for playing it, I knew that if any of them tried the game, I’d run over them in Swellan Park. I made some wonderful friends, I played all over the province of Ulster, and I drank a truck-load of beer every weekend. If I ever bothered my arse writing a sit-com, I could dip in to the characters from that club and it would be comedy gold. The wit, insanity and camaraderie in that club was just something else.

Just thinking of Finner, The Athlete, Kenny, Browne, Larry, The Ivers brothers, Shifty, Myles, Big Kris, Salesi, Cusky, Blackie, Hound, The King of The Wing, Winnie, Nigel, Wishbone, Fred, Eddie, Guus, The Pratts, Vance, Grant, all the Crowes, the Loughnanes, The Keenans, The Lacken darts team, Francie, The Jacksons, The Killeshandra boys, The Farrells, The Bennett & Beattie three, always makes me smile. Each one of them contributed in some way to some of the funniest stories of my early adulthood.

Anyway, enough of the sentimental shite. Let’s get in to what you all read this blog for, and it’s not my awful poetry! Yes, ladies & gentleman, here comes my single most embarrassing moment on a rugby field. And for once, it wasn’t my fault!

Monaghan are a shower of bastards. It’s not their fault really. They’re a poor man’s Cavan, or maybe even a rich man’s Longford. Anyway, they hate Cavan for some reason. Jealousy? I doubt it. That season we were probably on the same level as them. I think they just wanted to be better than us, and the day of The Battle of Swellan, they really let themselves down.

The Battle of Swellan was the first of many skirmishes in the wars between Cavan and Monaghan rugby clubs that season. It all started because of a nasty box received by our second-row, Blackie O’Reilly. Blackie is the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in this analogy.

Blackie was, is, a very powerful human being. A genius on the pitch, and a plumber off it. He was devastating with the ball in hand, and even more devastating in a pub quiz.

That day he was doing his usual bullocking through the Monaghan defence, and mid-way through the first half one of their centre’s finally snapped. With three Monaghan men trying, and failing, to pull Blackie down, the centre drew back and hit him an awful box in the jaw.

The shot heard around the world.

Blackie’s brother Paul Paul, so called because he loved repeating jokes, took umbrage to this assault and pummelled the Monaghan centre.

The ref was very inexperienced, and had the authority of a young substitute teacher. He had come in to our dressing room before the match to check our studs and was asking us if he could join us for pints in the town later that night. I never have, or since had, heard of a referee asking a team out for drinks before a match started. Surely it was a conflict of interest?

I think it was this invitation that led us to believe he may have been a bit of a soft touch. The way the Monaghan guys behaved that day, he must have invited them to his wedding or something. Because after Paul Paul threw that retaliation, the war of attrition turned nuclear.

Salesi, our Tongan super-hero, had pulled the jersey over the head of his opposite number and was dishing out some NHL style beatdown. Paul Paul and Blackie were cleaning house.

A disgusting incident occurred when the Monaghan full-back ran twenty yards and kicked Pierre, our full-back, in the face as he was lying prone on the ground.

I had been mostly trying to separate lads and fight fires, I’m not much of a fighter, but when I saw this all my conscientious objections washed away. I jogged over to the Monaghan full back and fore-armed him as hard as I could in the face. Buckled the prick. Pierre was a good mate, and he wasn’t a violent guy. He was a gentle, artistic soul – brilliant story teller. He wouldn’t have been up to any nasty shit and didn’t deserve a broken nose for losing his balance while trying to break up the kerfuffle.

As soon as I knocked over the Monaghan man I got clattered from behind. Cowards. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and turned around to see a familiar face on the field with my attacker by the throat.

“You’ll not hit my son!”

Dad.

On the pitch.

With a lad.

By the throat.

One-handed.

Every time the guy struggled, Dad lifted him higher off the ground. His feet were dangling in fresh air.

Later on, in the bar, I had learned that he had jumped the fence cleanly to get on the pitch. A five-foot box-jump. Not bad for a fifty-four-year-old man.

The ridiculousness of having a twenty-six-year-old man’s father run on the pitch to defend his son diffused the situation somewhat. That, and everyone was getting tired. I’d say at least 75% of the players had been on the beer the night before.

After getting a good scolding from the ‘oul-boy, the referee sent off the Monaghan full-back. (On a side note, this guy got banned for life for what he did). We went on to win the game in the end. Monaghan had a new kit the next time we played them. Salesi had torn off at least five player’s jerseys in the brawl.

We went for pints with the referee that night. I never saw him referee a match again. One of the lads must have thrown him in the Kenny Pottle river.

A few years later the French rugby player, Imanol Harinordoquy, found himself in a similar situation. His Dad ran on the pitch too to dispense some justice on his son’s behalf. I received a lot of texts that day asking if the ‘oul boy was on holidays in France.

People sometimes ask me; did I give out to my Dad for what he did that day? I always say no.

Sure the fucker had lifted a grown man with one hand! I’m not going to challenge a man capable of that.

I hope to instil those feelings of pride and fear in to my own children someday.

Next time on A Brief History of My Sporting Failures – hurling.

Cavan hurling.

The ultimate embarrassment.

read previous chapters in the series here:

Half-Nelson, Full-Nelson, Willie-Nelson

Full Kit Chancer

Ollie & Folly in The GAA

Should I have been a contender?

Featured

Wheels Coming off the Bandwagon

A poem for the casual sports fan

Throw the match on the telly,

We’re sure to win.

Jaysus, this jersey won’t go over my belly,

It’s only made for a lad that’s thin.

 

Who’s your man up front?

Has he played with us before?

That ref is a …. Clown.

Surely that was a score?

 

He’s a great wee mover,

Knows how to control a ball.

He’s in the box with that manoeuvre.

Jaysus, did he fall?

 

Not a hope that’s a peno!

Ref, you’re having a laugh.

Now that’s a terrible blow

At the end of the first half.

 

The atmosphere look’s great,

We’ll get back in for sure.

We can’t let them dictate,

Our boys will endure.

 

Oh, they’ve scored a second.

How long is left?

We aren’t as good as I reckoned.

The price of this jersey was theft.

If you enjoyed this, then check out some more of my poetry here:

Faster than a speeding couplet

Sean Nós-feratu

Lamb Couplets

Balls of Limerick

Featured

Party Politics

What happens at the Christmas party should never be spoken of

My fucking head was killing me. I had a pain in it the size of Zimbabwe.

And that wasn’t the only thing annoying me either.

I lost my job today. Well, I didn’t lose it per se. I was asked to leave. Fired, sacked, shit-canned, in a manner of speaking.

There were a few reasons.

To be fair, my eventual dismissal had been building up for a while. A number of unpleasant occurrences had, well, occurred in the weeks since Christmas. I blame my big mouth really. I blame it, and the fact that around November last year I just stopped giving a shit.

At the Christmas party a member of management, Gloria, had had one too many.

Gloria was always quite uptight in the office. She never really spoke to anyone on a personal level, and when she did it always seemed like it was coming off an autocue. You know? That robotic, “Hope you have a good weekend!” with no smile or intonation. If you had the misfortune of bumping in to her on the stairs on the way to the car park she’d rattle off this cold goodbye. It was as if the words were an unpleasant taste that she had to expel as efficiently as possible. If she was on a spectrum, it wasn’t a very colourful one.

I was having a good old time at the Christmas party. I love a nice pint now and again. One of life’s simplest and most rewarding pleasures.

I was enjoying a particularly crisp ice cold one when something weird happened. Gloria was calling my name and waving to me.

“Hey! Hey Paul!” I got a massive shock. She’d never addressed me by my first name before. And she was smiling. Freaked me the fuck out.

“Gloria. Hi. How’s your night going?” I’d asked. Shouldn’t have.

“Amazing! I just boned one of the project management interns in the disabled toilets. He gave me a right seeing to!”

I almost choked on my beer. Fucking hell. That intern, Dave I think he was called, was only 19! What was she at? A grown woman, taking the innocence of that poor child.

I then suppressed the good ‘ol Catholic guilt and thought, fuck it, they’re adults. Let them have their fun.

“Oh right, fair play!” I said, raising my pint and giving her a conspirator’s wink.

She put her hand on my shoulder and proceeded to lean in for a kiss.

I jumped back.

I recoiled.

I said “Ugh! Sick!” very loudly.

Not my proudest moment. She glared with me with all the hatred her robot brain could muster.

Bollox. I really should work on my winks. I didn’t want to give the impression that I was flirting with her at all. Things kind of spiralled from there.

Two weeks later I got an email from her questioning a decision I’d made in hiring a new receptionist. It was pointless really. She was mad that I’d hired the first person I’d interviewed and not gone through the list of twenty people that had applied like I was supposed to.

I hate being questioned. I always feel like it’s an attack on my intelligence. My ego can’t handle it. It probably makes me a bit of a dick, I don’t care, it happens very rarely. What really annoyed me here though was I knew Gloria was right. The new receptionist was hopeless. I think he lied on his CV about being computer literate, or literate for that matter.

Anyway, I was seething after this rebuke and went in to the small kitchen in the corner of the office to get a coffee. A couple of members of the project management team were in there deconstructing various people’s behaviour at the Christmas party. Bit late I thought, but I suppose most of us hadn’t seen each other since the holidays.

I joined in with the gossip. I love a bit of gossip me!

One of the guys brought up the intern, Dave, and his conquest. I snorted.

“Huh! Good man Dave. Had a spin in the Glory Hole!”

It was a stupid comment to make about a woman. It was a stupid comment to make about a colleague. It was a stupid comment to make about a human being.

It did get a good laugh though. A laugh big enough to quench my brief, but burning guilt.

I’d forgotten all about my rebuke and felt that making this mean comment behind Gloria’s back made us even now. Another three points and a win for me, putting me close to the top of the table in the dick-head league. If anyone had me in their dick-head fantasy team that week they’d have been delighted with my performance.

The next morning, I arrived in to Brian from HR sitting casually on the edge of my desk. Brian pretty much always wore the same outfit. A black woolly cardigan, black pants and white shirt. Combined with his long black hair and bushy black beard, he looked like a care-bear. If he was a care bear the symbol on his belly would be a tearful employee reading their P45.

“Paul, so glad you could make it in.” he said, sympathetically.

“I make it in here every morning Brian. I work here.” I said with a false chuckle, sitting down at my PC.

“Very good Paul, I love your sense of humour.”

No, you fucking don’t I thought. Actually, I said it too. Brian, of course, was very offended and appalled.

“Well, I was going to just have an informal chat Paul, but if you wish to use profanity I have to inform you that there will be a disciplinary hearing tomorrow at 3pm in my office. A member of staff has made a complaint.”

He gave me his best care bear stare and handed me a letter.

I glanced over it quickly. Blah, blah, gross misconduct, blah, blah, professional integrity, blah, blah, sexual harassment etc.

So, the robot did have a heart.

I was furious. A throwaway comment in the coffee dock was getting me in this much trouble?

Fuck that. Revenge. Revenge is the only way to settle this in a mature, professional way.

I strolled down to Gloria’s office. She hadn’t come in yet. What I did next was fairly stupid, a bit over the top you might say, but at the time it made perfect sense to me.

I started a fire on her desk. It wasn’t a big one really. I just burned a few post-its. Wasn’t my fault that our cheap-ass supply manager had purchased flammable office furniture from a dodgy crowd over the border. It also wasn’t my fault that someone left a window open and the breeze caught the flames and spread the fire through the office. And it definitely wasn’t my fault that nobody could get an outside line to call the fire brigade because our dangerously under-qualified receptionist had jammed the phone system.

When someone eventually remembered that they had a mobile phone, the fire brigade arrived and got the blaze under control.

Thankfully nobody got seriously hurt.

A couple of people were huddled around Gloria in the car-park and were pointing at me. I knew what was coming.

Gloria made her way over to me. I couldn’t tell if she was annoyed or delighted. Couldn’t read her at all. Standard Gloria.

“Paul, I believe this fire was started by you. I don’t think there is any need really for you to come back. Brian will be in touch.”

I wanted to say, “You got what was coming to you!” or something triumphant. I wanted her to know why I’d done it. She probably wouldn’t have reacted anyway; her CPU wouldn’t have processed the information in a normal way. I still wanted to say it.

I didn’t get a chance to. I took a massive thump in the back of the head and crashed to the tarmac.

“Fuckin’ prick! I heard what you said about me bird! Fuckin middle-aged office wanker.”

Dave was standing over me, clearing his throat for a nice phlegmy spit.

Ah, Dave!

He made the complaint. Made sense.

Fair play to him. I’d have done the same. He saw his chance and he took it.

Can’t begrudge him that!

Featured

Faster than a speeding couplet

Five two-line poems, for the reader with the busy lifestyle

Censorbilities

Political discourse has been stagnating of late.

The rest of this poem has been censored by the state.

 

Hip Hippo

Being an ageing, overweight, unfit hipster requires some skill,

Especially while navigating a fixie bike up a steep hill.

Stranger Danger

As you stared angrily at me while you unbuttoned your blouse,

I wondered, who are you, and how did you get in to my house?

Rejection           

I told you I loved you, you didn’t say it back.

You floated away and said, “Quack quack”. 

Power Move

Look, I’m not going to be the person to tell you that you can’t

Give a Tombstone Piledriver to an irritating aunt.

Featured

Half-Nelson, Full-Nelson, Willie-Nelson

Part 4 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

Will I ever successfully defend the WWE Heavyweight Title at Croke Park?

I don’t know.

I might.

I’ve a lot on at the moment.

Like, the missus has to be dropped in to work and collected later on. The bins need to be put out. The bloody cobwebs in the utility room need doing again.

I’m just so busy right now that a title defence is the last thing on my mind…

I’ve previously spoken about embarrassing moments on the Gaelic football field and the soccer field, mainly involving my stupid big head. This chapter is going to deal with a sporting pursuit (hobby?) of mine that the majority of the civilised world finds embarrassing – pro wrestling. It won’t necessarily deal with personal public humiliation. I know that’s what people want, thankfully I’ve never done this publicly! However, when you look at the overall content it probably will satisfy your urge for schadenfreude.

IT’S FAKE!”, you scream.

“I FUCKING KNOW IT’S FAKE!”, I scream back, followed by a perfectly executed figure four leg-lock. WOOOOOOOO!!!

My love for wrestling started at a young age. It was handed down to me by an older townie cousin who had cable television.

I remember seeing Hulk Hogan for the first time and thinking, “Who the fuck is this guy? He’s got a moustache and receding hairline like Dad, but he’s fucking huge!” His energetic gibberish was hypnotizing my seven-year-old mind. He was flexing his huge muscles and screaming at the camera to some ‘oul boy called Mean Gene about prayers and vitamins and training and other nonsense. I couldn’t follow it, but I liked all those things. I mean I was an altar boy, I loved those tangy orange vitamins and football training on Saturday mornings. It felt like this Hogan lad was speaking directly to me!

Of course, as I got older and began to understand more about wrestling, I realised that this was a promo. He was talking to the audience, not me personally.

My Dad hated wrestling. Despised it. Knew it was a fake construct designed purely to take your money, and reminded me and my brother of the fact constantly. However, he made us go to mass every Sunday and gave the church a portion of his wages every month. The cheek. The irony. He was a monster heel – The Irony Sheikh.

Jesus, that was a terrible pun. I apologise profusely.

Most of my early consumption of wrestling was either in my cousin’s house or on VHS. It wasn’t until 2001 when we got satellite TV at home that we were able to watch Raw and Smackdown regularly. The sports package was initially added as a means to watch the British & Irish Lions tour in Australia that year. Wrestling was just an added bonus.

I was sixteen in 2001. My brother was fourteen. Nu-metal, Jackass and skateboard fashion were really popular in 2001 for some reason. Pro-wrestling also seemed to embrace this at the time. Entrance music had a nu-metal flavour. Some wrestlers wore baggy jeans. The matches sometimes had a stunt-like feel to them. There were lot of bandanas and motorbikes knocking about too.

I liked nu-metal music and the ‘ol baggy jeans and skate shoes. Could I skate though? Could I fuck! I had a skate-board for a bit, but we didn’t really have the smooth tarmac required to master the skills required. Gravel paths just didn’t allow you to gain enough velocity to perfect your balance on a board. I mostly just stood on it in the kitchen, holding the back of a kitchen chair and moving left to right. Tony fucking Hawk.

Wrestling had become ultra-violent. Blood, weapons, heavy metal etc. and I loved it. Although, being a source of ‘entertainment’ from America, they were constantly warning you to not try anything you watched at home. What a pointless warning! That was the best part, practicing moves on each other.

After a couple of years with satellite TV and access to wrestling around the clock my parents made a terrible error.

They bought my youngest sister a trampoline.

They may as well have enrolled us in wrestling school.

Adding fuel to this, WWE had just screened two seasons of the show Tough Enough where they put prospects through a gruelling training regime to become the next big WWE superstar. They showed you how to do the moves, then warned you not to do them. Bit of a contradiction there lads!

Our back garden was now Madison Square Garden.

Dreams were realised on that trampoline. Hearts were broken on that trampoline. Every move you can think of was executed on that trampoline. Power bombs, spine busters, moon-saults, back body drops, DDT’s, and if someone didn’t have the manners to call a move before performing it – there was always room for a good old-fashioned puck on the jaw.

One time we recorded our own pay per view. We had a camcorder and a CD with all the wrestlers theme songs. We took turns being King and JR when not ‘performing’. We even went north to get fireworks for the entrances. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, although watching it back now can make for disturbing viewing.

Not that anything disturbing actually happened.

The ‘main-event’ between my brother and I took place late in the evening. We didn’t have a light in the back yard and our camera didn’t really adapt well to the lack of one. Visually the match looks like two shadows jumping around the place. It’s the audio that is disturbing really. My brother’s voice was still in the process of breaking and was quite high-pitched when excited, whereas I had my deep manly man’s voice that I still have today. What was actually a high-octane, edge of your seat grudge match between two battle-weary competitors, sounds awfully like a sustained sexual assault thanks to my brother’s pleads of “No!”, “Stop!”, and “Jesus, that was too hard!”.

The commentary team of my little sister and cousin didn’t really help to tell the actual story either. For some reason they were very quiet throughout the match. I assure you this was due to the quality of the performance, and we’ll leave it at that.

Every good wrestler needs a proper enemy to be successful. The Rock had Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan had André the Giant, and Chris Benoit had his mind.

My enemy was my brother. Well, we weren’t enemy enemies, we just clashed a bit – like all brothers do.

My favourite move during our adolescence was ‘The Sly Dig’. I usually administered it when he was concentrating on reading or something. It drove him mad. His signature move was a combination of Rhino’s ‘Gore’ and Kane’s ‘Chokeslam’. He usually administered it after being provoked by me.

One time he nearly killed me. Well, no, I’m exaggerating here. He ‘kayfabe’ nearly killed me. (He actually just winded me!) He was looking for something in a cupboard beside our bathroom. I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water and asked him what he was doing. He didn’t respond. I took that as disrespecting his elder and proceeded to administer ‘The Sly Dig’. I regretted it instantly.

He fucking burst me.

A point to make before explaining what went down. We both played rugby. At the time, I was lanky for my age and played in the back row. The brother wasn’t yet at his full height, but was at full strength. He played in the front row and was used to dishing out pain and suffering in close quarters. I was more into being creative and dishing out pain from a distance. The brother had a serious temper on him when crossed. A bear that did not like being baited.

Hitting him ‘The Sly Dig’ in a close quarters situation was a massive error of judgement. He spun on his heels, got in to a low crouch, grabbed me by the shoulders and engaged. There was no pause. He was ahead of his time in that respect. Pushing off from his legs he rammed me through the closed bathroom door and through the glass shower door. Thankfully the glass didn’t shatter, just came free of the runners. I think the force of what he’d done shocked him more than it had shocked me, he just pointed at me and said, ‘I’ll kill you next time’. He meant it too. He had a crazy look in his eye that told me not to mess with him again. I considered it, but of course in my heart of hearts, I knew that I’d tackle him again.

Unfortunately, this incident occurred on a Saturday. A wet Saturday. That meant Dad was in the house. And he heard the commotion. How could he not? His six foot, fifteen stone (those were the Halcyon days!) first born son had just been rammed through two doors by his Tasmanian Devil second born son.

Well the brother had disappeared, I was just catching my breath and trying to figure out a way to spin this story in my favour if he ever told anyone about it, when Dad came in to the bathroom and witnessed the destruction. Man, I don’t know what’s worse, getting your ass handed to you by your brother, or the look of absolute bewilderment and disappointment that a parent gives you when you’ve been involved in something completely idiotic.

Dad blamed wrestling of course. I blamed letting the young fella play rugby. That accusation only made things worse.

That Friday night we couldn’t watch RAW, we had to watch the Late-Late show.

The ‘oul boy could be a monster heel when he wanted to.

Reading this back, it is pretty embarrassing actually. What the fuck was I at buying a skateboard?

 

Read previous chapters in this series here:

Full Kit Chancer

Ollie & Folly in The GAA

Should I have been a contender?

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Sean Nós-feratu

A story, in rhyme, about respecting your traditions.

Waking up on a Sunday after taking a sup

I couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t get up

The missus came in and said “Give up drinking ale!”

But conceded after my protests that I looked unusually pale.

 

Now, I’m not a man that gets into terrible states from drink

And my unusual condition this morning made me think

About anything strange or unusual that happened me last night

To make me awaken feeling like I’d eaten dog shite.

 

So, I was in the local with the regular blokes

And had six pints, no whiskey, and one or two smokes

I didn’t leave my pint unattended, so I know I wasn’t spiked

And I didn’t go to the chipper, so it wasn’t a burger that my insides disliked.

 

My energy levels were terrible, I felt unnaturally weak

It took a massive effort to reach the kitchen to wet my beak

Perhaps my tolerance for booze was beginning to wear out?

No that couldn’t be it, sure I’m a demon for stout.

 

I forgot about it for the next few days

And time passed quickly, my thoughts in a haze

Until the following dark Thursday night driving past the cemetery

I spotted a man in black, and he was staring straight at me.

 

My first reaction of course, was to beep the horn and wave

Never thinking it odd, that the lad was getting out of a grave

How do I know him? I put my brain through the wringer

Bejaysyus! That’s yer man from the other night! The Sean Nós singer.

 

He was in the local the previous Saturday and sang a couple of tunes

And I remember in the smoking area his lighter was made of bone, and decorated with ancient runes

I told him how his constant interruptions were being the ruination

Of the craic we were having in the pub, and my friends and I conversation.

 

Was it my imagination, or did his eyes then glow red?

Or is this the usual post hangover anxious build up of dread?

Perhaps he’s just one of those alternative trad reformers

That add gimmicks to their act to be more memorable performers.

 

Something didn’t feel right, I decided to call my spouse

But a stranger answered the phone. The cunt was in the house!

I stalled the car, it wouldn’t go in to the right gear

So I jumped out and ran, fueled by my fear.

 

When I got to the house my terror increased

The music of Foster & Allen was blaring, what is this strange beast?

I could barge in the door, or use tactics of stealth

But first things first, I had to arm myself.

 

What would be best, a close combat weapon, or one of range?

Or harness trad singers’ biggest fear – change?

I laughed at my joke, that lightened the mood

Then was sobered by the fact that my wife was being held captive by this dude.

 

So I picked up the closest thing to hand

An old wooden hurley, sure this’ll do grand.

I entered the house screaming my wife’s name

Throwing stealth out the window, to save my eternal flame

 

The beast appeared in front of me, a grin on his pale face

And raised his hands in welcome, as if he owned the fucking place.

Usually this is the part where the villain explains his motives and final plan,

But I didn’t have time to listen to his shite, I’m a busy man.

 

So before he had time to open his evil mouth

I swung the hurl as hard as I could and knocked him clean out.

When he fell, I ran to the sitting room and turned off the racket,

Then found my sobbing wife and wrapped her in my jacket

 

She was cold from fright, despite being tied up in front of the fire

Wouldn’t you be if you were attacked by a fucking vampire?

She was fine, she hadn’t been bit or hurt in any way

And I told her that we’d both live to fight, laugh and love another day.

 

But would you Adam and Eve it, I spoke too soon

The beast reappeared, making me feel like a goon.

His long fangs were bared and his cape billowed around his back

I thought, Jesus, such a load of hassle to go through every night for a snack.

 

He advanced on me, obviously revitalised from his brief rest

When all of a sudden the wife shoved a poker through his chest.

He disintegrated immediately into a cloud of dust

And I don’t want to admit this, but I suppose I must:

 

I’m now writing a Sean Nós song about the Vampire and how my wife was triumphant,

and if a trad singer interrupts the craic in the pub, it’s best to reserve judgement.

Because, it happened to me and could happen to you,

Be targeted for death by a dreaded Sean Nósferatu.

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Lamb Couplets

Five two line poems (couplets) from The Gammy Eye

Balance

You can have a business suit, an iPad, big headphones and an expensive looking watch,

But travelling a bumpy road on a bus, no man looks dignified balancing a messenger bag on his crotch.

 

Knock on

You ran your fingers through my hair and pinched me on the bum.

I have to say, that’s the weirdest thing that a referee ever did to me at a scrum.

 

Hello dear one

If I was the King of Togo, and I took you as my Queen,

You’d have to bring your laptop, so we can spam email everyone in Aberdeen.

 

Not just for Christmas

A pet dog has many uses, companionship being one of those,

But don’t misread an Andrex ad and use Spot to blow your nose.

 

Secret to longevity   

If you want to live a long life, exercise and eat plenty of fruit and veg.

Avoid smoking and stressful situations like driving your car off a cliff ledge.

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You Go First

A poem about brothers

Do you think it looks safe?

I don’t know if I will

It’s really high up

You go first Phil

 

No, I promise I’m not scared

I’m sure it’ll be brill

You’re older than me

You go first Phil

 

I’ll push you so that

You don’t roll down the hill

Show me how it’s done

You go first Phil

 

Wow! That looked like fun

Was it a thrill?

I’ll take my turn now

Give me a push Phil

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Can Dogs Play The Trombone?

A poem for children, or simpletons

Can dogs play the trombone?

Or are their paws too small?

Could we make a jazz band

With Labradors at all?

 

Lions make good lead singers

The way that they can roar

And pigeons playing the piano

Is something we all adore

 

Bears only play the drums

In heavy metal bands

And chimps are super funk bassists

Big thumbs, you understands

 

There was also this marmalade cat

Who would make a pleasing din

By using his tail as a bow

And playing his whiskers like a violin

 

The above is interesting information

But it’s something I’ve always known

However it doesn’t answer my question;

Can dogs play the trombone?

Featured

Full Kit Chancer

Part 3 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

Do kids still ask their parents (Santa) for full kits for Christmas? Or has modern society evolved correctly? The concept seems ridiculous to me.

I had a couple of Manchester United kits as a child. I was a ridiculous child to be fair.

I don’t really support Manchester United anymore. My interest in soccer has diminished over the years. I like it just fine, but I’d never lose my shit over a result, or change plans to see a game. I’d do that for rugby, but only the international side. Soccer is something that I like to stumble upon and pleasantly enjoy now and again. Like a random café on a wet Tuesday, the film’s of Vin Diesel, or a chipper on the way home from a night out.

I’d be more of a well-wisher now than a fully fledged fan. I don’t own any memorabilia from the current era, but I wouldn’t say no to an ‘aul vintage jersey if I was offered one.

Why Man U you ask? Well, I suppose my earliest memory of Man U involved a Kevin Moran red card and me shitting myself. Actually, I was only four months old, and I don’t remember it. Family members like to tell the story though, as if me defecating in my own nappy as a baby would somehow embarrass me now. It doesn’t.

You need to have actual self-esteem in the first place for it to be lowered.

Anyway, what happened was, Kevin Moran was sent off in the 1985 FA Cup Final for fouling Peter Reid who was through on goal. I think Dad, a massive United fan, took umbrage with this decision and made his feelings known to the referee. I disagreed with both, and promptly shat myself. I think I also may have voiced concerns after Norman Whiteside scored the winner, I’m not entirely sure.

So, the love for Manchester United came from Dad. My Mam’s side all supported Liverpool and Tottenham, and a couple of slow cousins were Everton fans. The Liverpool fans always like to remind me and my brother of Liverpool’s previous successes, and laughed when we’d get frustrated and cry. The same cousin’s phone never seemed to be in service if I wanted to call for a friendly chat after a Liverpool defeat to United. This was incredibly strange as their dad, my uncle, was an engineer for the phone company.

Playing soccer. Now this was a different story.

Most of the soccer I’ve played was either in someone’s back garden, or on a tarmac yard in school. Oh yeah, indoor soccer and astro-turf 5-a-side. I’ve done that too. The walls and fenced in enclosures of these settings can be very forgiving to someone with an awful first touch.

Like Gaelic football, I was either a defender or a goalie. I’s not that I didn’t want to play up front, I just loved a theatrical dive or a big slide tackle. Nine times out of ten these manoeuvres were performed no-where near a ball. Ankles and shins were usually targeted in the back garden. That’s mainly because I fancied myself to come out on top in a scrap with my younger brother. I shouldn’t have. He fought dirty, like every younger brother does. It’s their right I suppose. The fucker was strong too…

I’ve only ever played 11-a-side soccer once. And this was as a 27-year-old adult. My college had a Northside v Southside charity match as part of RAG week. I played centre-back for the Southside team (my campus was on the Southside of Dublin).

All the Northsiders were in the college of engineering and construction. Real men. Men who could play ball. All the guys on my team were from the college of Media, Arts and Tourism. Dreamers, poets… saps.

RTÉ were also there to speak to our student union president in relation to fees and student accommodation. The pricks recorded some of the match and showed highlights on the news that night.

One of the highlights shown? Me scoring an own-goal with my massive fucking head. I swear to God; this melon gets me in to more trouble than it’s worth.

Philip Bromwell, the reporter, had set up the camera behind our goals as we were defending a corner. I happened to be the tallest guy in the box, I was close to being the widest as well. The ball was floated perfectly in to the area by the Northside full-back. Our “coach” screamed: ‘GET YOUR HEAD ON THE END OF THAT BRADY!”

I was incredibly hungover. (It was RAG week after all!) The previous night was €2 bottles in Dicey’s. The fact that I’d drank around 12 bottles of Desperado’s followed by some shots meant that it was a miracle I even got my head through the jersey that morning.

My severely dehydrated and cramping legs decided to leap with all the power I possessed to meet the ball. I got my head on it alright. I just wasn’t facing the right way. If it had have been up the other end, it would have been a finish that Duncan Ferguson would have been proud of. I blasted it past our keeper, and took him and several defenders out in the process. If it was possible to win the game by knocking members of your own team in to the goal, the ref would have blown it up there and then.

Philip Bromwell from RTÉ was absolutely pissing himself behind the goals. He nearly knocked over his camera. It’s a pity he hadn’t been standing closer to the goal mouth. If I had collided with it, I would have made shite of his equipment. I would have made sure to have destroyed the footage as well.

The fiasco of my only ever 11-a-side game aired on the six-one news that night and was repeated on the nine o’clock news. None of my clearances, my big tackles or my probing balls (behave yourself) were featured. Just my big, clumsy, oafish own-goal.

Fucking RTÉ, man. Just knowing that footage exists in their archive makes me very uncomfortable. If I ever get caught for not paying my TV licence, I’ll get my solicitor to have the footage of my performance erased as part of my plea bargain.

As sporting failures go, it doesn’t get much worse than having one broadcast on national television.

Or does it?

Yes, yes of course it does.

Find out how next time on A Brief History of My Sporting Failures.

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Ollie & Folly in The GAA

Part 2 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

You have of course heard of Lacken Celtic GFC. It would be highly ignorant of me to assume that you haven’t.

I’m sure that you are aware of the senior championship victory in 1908, the intermediate victory of 1997, and the time the under -13’s were robbed of a semi-final victory in Cornafean in the same year (more on that fiasco later in the series).

I’m certain that Joseph Crowe Memorial Park is a venue that you and your family visit regularly.

Therefore, there is no real need for me to delve in to the complicated and convoluted origin story of my first sporting club. You can find that on Wikipedia. It begins in Scotland, and ends up in Corlismore or something.

My introduction to Lacken Celtic was at a very young age. As the first grandson on the Brady side of the family, I assumed there was some kind of Lion King moment where I was presented to the parish as a confused baby, held aloft over the 13 metre line as the future and new hope of the club, as the sounds of tribal music blared in the background.

More than likely, it was in a basket in a covered stand that stank of piss and Benson & Hedges, neither of which were mine, to the sound of some disgruntled neighbour screaming, ‘Agh! Fuck ya ref, ya whore’s tramp’s bastard!’

Ollie, or dada (or possibly gurgle gurgle burp), as I knew him at the time, was an ‘aul whore for the football. He still is. It consumes him. It’s his only vice. He was quite good apparently. Played a bit of county at under-age, had a few schools medals, some county league medals for the club.

A neighbour once told me at my uncle’s 50th, that Dad was the hardiest bastard he ever played with. Tough, but fair. Even tempered, but likely to lose it if provoked. Like all good GAA club defenders, he’d hit you a skite, but only if you deserved it, and never in a false way. A good, honest box in the jaw. It was a nasty business in the full-back line. A dark business. It ruined many men. But at least it had a code of honour. If you stuck by the code, your ability to function in real society remained with you.

The expectation on me was that I’d follow in his footsteps and begin what would be an incredibly storied career, ending in Cavan’s first All-Ireland victory since the 1960’s. I remember back in 1997, after Cavan lost an All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry, I asked Dad, ‘Will we ever win an All-Ireland?’

He replied, misty eyed, ‘Of course son. When you and Daniel and your cousin Paul are playing senior. We’ll win one then.’

That didn’t quite happen. Here’s why:

I was shit.

Maybe that’s a harsh assessment. I was mediocre at best. The fundamentals came easily to me. It was speed that I lacked. I never had that blistering pace that could skin a corner back and fire the ball in to the top corner. The compromise that the club and I came to was that I’d be a back. Like Dad.

Nothing more honourable than being responsible for defending the lines of the parish under-10 team in a community games tournament. I assume. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t fucking picked. The reason given to me at the time was, I was 9, and I had another year of playing left when I turned 10. I thought it was a harsh decision from the manager to be fair, making his first born son a sub.

But it didn’t dampen my spirits. I bloody loved the game. Absolutely loved it. Some of my best memories are wearing the sky blue and navy of Lacken and playing football with my friends.

Some of my most cringe-worthy memories in sport (life?)also came in the sky blue and navy. One in particular really stands out.

At this point in time, I would like to make you aware that I was a huge Manchester United fan as a kid. I’m sorry if it offends you, but it’s relevant to the story. Do you remember that Eric Cantona goal against Sunderland in 1996? It was the one where he beats a few defenders, does a 1-2 with Brian McClair, and then chips the keeper. Do you remember the celebration? Cantona does this really slow rotation, marvelling in his own genius, and slowly lifts his arms in the air, as if to say, ‘Look, this shit comes easy to me. I’m class, the rest of you are rubbish. All hail the king.’

I did that same celebration in a Gaelic football match. Not once…twice. And it was in the same bloody game.

The club had set up a challenge match between us and Belturbet. It was for the under-10, under-12 and under-14 teams. The idea of the day was to give everyone a game. Everyone was getting a full half of football at the least. I couldn’t wait. When the team was picked before the under-12 match, I couldn’t believe it. Full-forward. I’d be playing full-forward. Up front! Like Cantona.

At the throw-in I shook hands with the full back, then I flicked up my collar. To be fair, I wasn’t the only sap doing that. Most of the kids who supported United had their collars flicked up. I scored two goals in that game. I did the Cantona celebration to an empty stand and bemused side-line twice. However, that wasn’t the stupidest or most embarrassing thing that I did in the game. The worst was yet to come.

About five minutes from half time, we were losing by two points. We needed a goal to get back in front. One of our boys made a blistering run up the left wing. The Belturbet goalie ran way off his line to go and tackle him. For some reason, even after scoring two goals, my marker didn’t see me as a threat (the prick), and joined his teammate to try and close our fella down. I was un-marked with an open goal in front of me. I called for the pass.

I just want to stop the story here for a minute to tell you something. And believe me when I say this, this is a fact, I’m not bragging. I have excellent hand-eye co-ordination. I always have. If you throw something at me, there’s a 99.99% chance that I’ll catch it. It’s one of those weird things that runs on my Mam’s side of the family. One of my cousins once caught a tennis ball that he saw coming at him out of the corner of his eye, while still maintaining eye-contact with the person he was in conversation with. I didn’t witness it, but he’s not a liar, so I assume it’s true.

Right, back to the action.

All I had to do was catch that ball and blast it with my left foot, in to the top-corner, putting us ahead at half-time.

As the ball sailed through the air, my overly confident 11 year old brain thought, ‘You could go for the spectacular here lad. Over-head kick? Volley? You can do it. Show these chumps what kind of superstar you are!’

Making these split second decisions is something that separates elite athletes from the rest of us. I wasn’t an elite athlete. I panicked, got my footing all wrong, and did the stupidest thing that I’ve ever done on a sports field while sober.

I headed the ball. I fucking headed an O’Neill’s size 4 ball. It was like heading a bowling ball. And I didn’t head it with my forehead. There was no finesse to the shot. The ball bounced off the top of my massive head, hit the post, and went wide. To the untrained eye, or to anyone basically, that was watching, it looked like I jumped for the ball and forgot to raise my hands. The force of the blow knocked me off my feet. Stupid fucking 11 year old brain. I got back up to the goalie and my marker both laughing at me. Smug cunts.

Pat Smith was doing umpire. He knew my intent. ‘Ah jaysus. Young Brady! What are you at? You’re not playing soccer!’ That was good advice Pat. I cherished that.

Needless to say, I was subbed off at half-time. My own fault really. Poor Ollie. I’m sure having me as a son wasn’t easy on him.

I’d go on to have more ‘incidents’ on the Gaelic football pitch as I grew older. I’ll touch on them again and again throughout the series.

Next time on A Brief History of My Sporting Failures – soccer. What is it, and why can’t I play?

Featured

Should I have been a contender?

A chiseled, long haired version of me – red faced from exertion and possible steroid use, lifting the WWE heavyweight title at Wrestlemania. The first ever to be held in Croke Park.

This isn’t an autobiography. It’s more of a confession to myself as I approach middle age.

I’m not a famous person.

Unless you:

  1. worked with me
  2. attended the same school as me
  3. or are related to me,

you will have no idea who I am. Which is completely fine by me! I like it that way. It means I can be my own messy self and never have to deal with your judgement. Yippee!!

Notice how in the numbered list I didn’t include played sport against me? There’s a reason for that. Reasons that will become more clear as this series continues.

In the year of Your Lord, two thousand and seventeen, on the 29th of January, I turned 32 years old. I don’t feel 32 years old. I still feel like a curious and confused 18-year-old – legally an adult, but with the maturity of a socially underdeveloped teenager. Well… maybe not that bad. I’m able to look after most things.

Except ironing. I’m shite at ironing. No-one ever showed me how, and all the life hack articles on-line just do not help. I either have to ask someone to do it for me, or attempt it myself, and show up at work looking like I store my shirts in an accordion.

Like most Irish men, I have an interest in plenty of different sports. Wait, that comes off as misogynistic. Shit. I don’t want to alienate potential readers this early. Hang on, I’ll start that again.

Like most humans, I have an interest in plenty of different sports. I subscribe to satellite sports channels, sports podcasts like the excellent Second Captains, and read and listen to any sports news that I can. Throughout my life I have tried playing many different sports as well, mostly depending on who my idols were at the time.

I was listening to one of these shows the previous week and the panel were discussing the future of, the now former Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney. Some one quipped, “Ah Rooney, he’s too old now, isn’t he? I mean he’s 31!”.

I nearly ploughed the car in to the tractor in front of me. 31 is too old? Fuck! I’m 32!!

A huge existential crisis descended upon me. Feelings of dizziness and light-headedness enveloped me. (although, that could have been as a result of the fumes coming from the contraption on the back of that tractor) Performing the correct road safety checks, I erratically pulled the car in to the hard shoulder .

Visions of myself in various team colours, lifting various trophies flashed before my eyes. These visions consisted of:

  1. Me in a Cavan jersey lifting the Sam Maguire cup.
  2. Me in a Cavan jersey lifting the Liam McCarthy cup (look, if you’re going to fantasize, you may as well go all out).
  3. Me in an Irish rugby jersey lifting the 6 Nations trophy.
  4. A chiseled, long-haired version of me – red-faced from exertion and possible steroid use, lifting the WWE heavyweight title at Wrestlemania. The first ever to be held in Croke Park.
  5. An Olympic medal ceremony where I pick up gold for Ireland in Tae-kwon-do and Judo. The first ever Irish athlete to do so.
  6. Me in a Manchester United goalkeeping kit, drinking champagne out of a pair of Adidas predators.

As the slurry fumes wore off, and the visions subsided, I came to the cold realization, “You’re never going to achieve any of those things! You’re too old for most, and too fat for the rest!” Well, I thought I did. That was the farmer shouting in at me. I hadn’t realized I was babbling hysterically in the car. The fucker must be spreading a mixture of pig shit and LSD on his land. Those fumes were bloody toxic.

The rest of the drive home was spent thinking of ways to invent time machines. Perhaps if I could return to 1990, and tell the 5-year-old me watching the Ireland v Romania World Cup penalty shoot-out that if he didn’t eat sugar and trained really hard, he might have a chance at getting a trial with a League of Ireland club. Maybe my 5-year-old brain would understand and act accordingly. Although, and this is more likely, the 5-year-old me would probably get a massive fright, think future me was some dead relative sent from heaven to scare him by God because he’d pissed the bed the night before, suppressed the memory, and tripled the sugar intake just to deal with the anxiety.

I’ll never know. Or maybe I will. Technology is constantly evolving after all.

About six weeks after my crushing realization, I sat down and collected my thoughts. How did such a huge sports fan never reach his potential?

Was it bad luck?

Was it laziness?

Or was there never any potential there in the first place?

All these questions will be answered here in this weekly series. It will tell the story of how a sporting nobody remained a sporting nobody.

How the underdog remained the underdog.

How someone who wasn’t very good at …. you see where I’m going with this.

The story will continue, like all good stories do, in rural Cavan – a backwards, conservative county in the Republic of Ireland.