Falling hook, line and sinker
I have a secret crush on George Hook and now that he is tethered to The Mayo News stable too, as blow-ins we can bond, talk about rugby, and Foxrock and life inside the Pale. (The lovely Ingrid would never have to know.)
I could lie on the office couch and confess my fears about Mayo not winning the All-Ireland final again this year and how I’ve never been in Croke Park – well, except for a Tina Turner concert.
I could tell him about the first time I milked a cow and the way she looked at me with those big brown eyes and ‘Mooed’ in a most disdainful way before skittering into the bucket. Or how I used to ride a Yamaha 50 up and down the boreens and byways of Clare Island with my two older daughters hanging on for dear life.
I bet he would sympathise with my repeated nightmares about hens squawking and pecking at me ever since a wild cleric from Donegal let one loose (a Bantam Brown, as I recall) on the stage of the Aula Maxima in Maynooth. It was during our rendition of the Tommy Makem classic, ‘Four Green Fields’ in the college’s annual song contest of 1978.
I’m not sure how we would gel about the subject of politics. Since he is a self-confessed Blueshirt, there is no way I could ever tell him that I have no political-party allegiance and that I am deeply disappointed in successive governments’ failure to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.
I would love to ask him about his views on cronyism and clientelism though, and how, no matter what Enda Kenny said before the last General Election, the practise is still thriving in the body politic.
And how embroiled is the mass media in propagating the power of these cosy cartels and, moreover, has it become totally compromised by bowing to the demands of advertisers.
But since The Mayo News has just lured him across the Shannon, I had better not scare him off. Best let him breathe in the wild Atlantic first; stand on a cliff in Achill or Blacksod, and get a sense of life on the edge, far from the bustle of Dáil Éireann and the Newstalk studios, Brussels, the Bundesbank and Lansdowne Road.
So over a soothing cup of chamomile tea, I could confide about how I miss the Liffey in Lucan and its sylvan smells and weirs, sally gardens and sluices. How I regularly return these days to visit my elderly parents and reconnect with old friends.
And as I cross the country, how I always check the barges under the bridge in Athlone and book the same seat in the same carriage on the train. Wait until everyone – tourist and day-trippers, commuters and emigrants – have spilled out onto the busy platform before hopping on the Luas to the city centre where I sit in a café on Parliament Street, with a skinny cappuccino and a mixed berry muffin indulging in metropolitan anonymity.
There, a gallery of pinstriped suits and Jimmy Choo shoes, briefcases and designer bicycles whizz past to a chorus of honking horns and hissing buses.
No need to mention the vacant faces of yet another generation of heroin addicts or the huddled homeless in disused doorways. Their poverty and peripherality, disenfranchisement and national neglect is a largely ignored casualty of the economic collapse.
Just like that of the less evident poverty back here in Connacht, hidden down boreens and byways, or in once affluent housing estates where floral curtains have faded and driveways are potholed.
But since it is still summer, the silly season, and The Mayo News is strutting like a peacock down its newly designed catwalk, let’s leave the serious subjects until later. Time to crack open the champagne and toast the upcoming editions of a hot (off the presses) Mayo News.
Falling hook, line and sinker