Is there a more irritating question at 5.40 am than “Are you awake?”?

“YES I AM, YOU SILLY WOMAN, BUT I WASN’T TWENTY SECONDS AGO!” I replied reasonably, and that’s why I’m sitting here in a foul humour with a cup of self-made coffee while my beloved slams pots around in the kitchen and you’re expecting something amusing?

Dream on.

My mind instead is fixed on scenes of tragedy and physical violence, mostly perpetrated by me on my evil insomniac wife, but also from history.

TRAGEDY: My Famous Try.

As I write this score is France 43 Ireland 3, and I am reminded of a notable day in my own rugby career. I was always a tubby lazy child, and short-sighted to boot, so I was not the automatic choice for inter-school matches, but occasionally I would be called, and this day I lined out against Terenure. (at least! I thought it was Terenure, but having prudently left my glasses in the changing room I couldn’t be sure). Play ebbed and flowed around my vague person throughout the first half without involving me in any way, but early in the second I glanced idly up and observed a rugby ball heading straight for me. For the only time in my left I caught it cleanly and looked about in desperation for the posts. There they were! So I thundered fatly towards them, whimpering in fear of the inevitable tackle. But it never came, and I planted the ball firmly between the posts and punched the air in triumph. And of course I had scored my try on the wrong pitch. There on the pitch next door fifteen Terenure players were rolling about in frankly overstated mirth while fourteen Gonzaga boys tired not to catch my eye.

PHYSICAL VIOLENCE :- The Last Time my Mother Hit Me.

I was twenty years old, as a matter of fact, but by today’s standards, or even those of 1963, very innocent. Indeed, the only thing I did that caused my parents any worry was to play in a rock and roll band called The Caravelles, and in that year we got, not only a recording contract, but also a week’s engagement in the Cavern in Liverpool, where the Beatles used to play. The Big Time! But suddenly racing up the charts were two wimpy English girls singling “You Don’t Have To Be A Bay-ay-aybeto Kur-eye-eye-eye.” And calling themselves The Caravelles.


Crisis meetings ensured, dozens of names were considered and rejected, and then Kevin Dunne suggested what I though was a brilliant name, simple, but with a certain Dublin style to it. And from the smiles on the faces of my colleagues I reckoned they thought so too. That night, my mother asked me if we had found a name. “Yes,” I replied “The Four Skins”.


The end of that story has its own bit of tragedy. We were still dithering about a name as we were about to go on stage at the Cavern, and the DJ, a terrifying little man called BobWooler told us we were a shower of, well, I won’t write it here, but it begins with “w”, and the politically correct term is, I understand, “owner-operators”. “You’re on now”, he said”, and you’re either The Praties or the Greenbeats. Which is it?” So we went on, and we went down a storm, so we decided we’d better keep the name so that our record would sell millions in Liverpool. It was another six months before the record came out, Liverpool had forgotten us, world sales were in the low hundreds and we were stuck with the ghastly name Greenbeats from then on. And I’m still in a bad humour. Maybe a trot through the internet.


Bad idea.

Internet points out that good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die. Thanks.