The Real Deal Beats Fake Football

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David Kynaston is the leading social historian of post-war Britain, author of three weighty volumes covering the period from 1945 to 1962. He has also chronicled the history of the City of London during the 20th century as well as some of its leading individual figures and institutions, various personalities and events associated with the sport of cricket and other matters. His pen never stops moving and never runs out of ink.

Last year, he published a diary centred round the 2016–2017 season of Aldershot Town FC. The title: Shots in the Dark is a play on the team’s nickname “The Shots”. Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951 and has been a stalwart supporter of the club since he first attended a home game at the Recreation Ground (known as “the Rec”) in 1959. …


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Image by Marc Hatot from Pixabay

In 2020, 26 December, Saint Stephen’s Day, fell on a Saturday. The daily papers in Ireland appeared as usual, but their thin fresh content heavily padded out with reflections on the year cooked long before Christmas. The Irish Times devoted a full page to something awkwardly titled: “The year in people” with the sub-heading: “Who had a good one? Who didn’t?”

I was surprised to see Mary Lou McDonald included among those alleged to have had a bad year.

The explanation reflected the keyboard begrudger mindset that there is always a greater moan to be extracted from the jaws of any cause for cheer. Another example related to the supply of COVID vaccinations that arrived in Ireland the same day. On social media, the good news that vaccine doses had arrived here far earlier than anyone might have predicted a few months ago was drowned out by the alleged scandal that vaccination itself would only begin a few days later. …


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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As you could certainly be forgiven for not remembering them, the key provisions of Level 1 of the Government’s Plan for Living with COVID-19 included the following:

- 10 visitors to your home from up to 3 different households;

- Gatherings outside of up to 50 people;

- 100 people at weddings and other indoor events;

- Cafes, restaurants and pubs open;

- No restrictions on domestic travel.

Not “normality” as we knew it pre-Covid, but light years more relaxed than the gloom in which we are shrouded today and for the next month at least.

According to Professor Gerry Killeen, chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at UCC and Founding Member, Independent Scientific Advocacy Group on COVID-19 for the island of Ireland (ISAG), Level 1 is within a couple of months’ grasp. …


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Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels

[I wish readers as serene a holiday as present circumstances allow. The next blog will appear on 6 January. 2021 can only be better, I hope!]

The Economist business columnist who writes under the pseudonym Bartleby made a confession in the edition of 28 November.

Normally Bartleby’s family waits until December before putting up the Christmas decorations. But this weekend, though it is only November, the festive lights will go up…

He noticed that others were also going full Christmas early:

Some celebrities have already decorated their Christmas trees; Joan Collins, an actress, was pictured next to hers on November 10th. …


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Image by Shutterbug from Pixabay

The late David Halberstam was a serious investigative reporter who was also able to apply the wider lens of a chronicler and analyst of slower-burning events and trends in the United States through most of the twentieth century. I came across this snippet in his account of the 1950s which is, accurately if unimaginatively, titled The Fifties.

Dwight Eisenhower (popularly shorthanded to “Ike”) was elected to the US Presidency in November 1952.

Hearing that Eisenhower was thinking of choosing him [John Foster Dulles] as secretary of state, the British passed a number of private messages to the President-elect, asking him not to. Ike later said he answered those notes by saying. “No, look, I know something about this man and he’s a little abrupt and some people think he’s intellectually arrogant and that sort of thing. It’s not true. He’s a very modest man and very reasonable and he wants to use logic and reason and good sense and not force….” …


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Image by TukTukDesign from Pixabay

On Saturday, 5 December, Conor Lally reported in The Irish Times on the circumstances of Richard O’Halloran, a 45-year old businessman, father of four from Foxrock in Dublin, who has been prevented from leaving China since February 2019. He is the subject of an exit ban.

The report is based on a conversation with Mr. O’Halloran’s wife, Tara, who is seeking to raise public awareness of the situation because it has dragged on so long. I am relying on Mr. Lally’s report for this account.

Mr. O’Halloran was stopped from leaving China over an investigation into a Chinese businessman, Min Jiedong, jailed for illegally collecting money from Chinese investors in a crowd-funding scheme and using it to buy an aircraft currently leased to an airline in Europe. Mr. Min was the owner of Mr. …


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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

It was an article in The Clare Champion that drew my attention to a new weekly podcast originating in its host’s desire to inject some brightness into the grey grimness of our current circumstances. To paraphrase Fergal O’Keeffe, host of Travel tales with Fergal, we may be obliged to stay put, but we remain free to talk about travelling.

Fergal is an Ennis native, now living in Clonmel and, in normal times, works mainly in the licensed trade. He caught the travel bug in his teens and, now aged 50, has visited 30 countries worldwide. Occasionally, the podcast swerves into other subjects — like the US election. But generally, it comprises a conversation with another seasoned traveller, including a fair sprinkling of well known Clare natives who are also veteran travellers, like Keith Wood and Mark O’Halloran. …


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Image by succo from Pixabay

I have mentioned before that 25 years in aircraft financing taught me very little about the technical side of aviation. But one thing I learnt early in my career was that transitioning a leased aircraft smoothly from one operator to the next depends critically on the reliability of the records kept by the outgoing operator of maintenance and repairs it has overseen to the aircraft.

I learnt that lesson from an instance of an airline refusing to take delivery of an aircraft coming out of an operator that had gone bankrupt because, although the records paper trail seemed complete, its technical team suspected that much of the work recorded had not been done properly if it had been done at all. …


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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I am an “early to bed, early to rise” merchant, so was asleep not long after 10 p.m. (Irish time) on the night of 3 November. I saw no point in staying up for the US election count because there would only be idle chatter and speculation until real figures began to flow in the early hours of the morning.

I woke up at about 3 a.m. and checked the computer to learn that the President had won Florida and seemed sure of winning Texas. Iowa and Ohio were also looking good for him. …


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Image by Veve from Pixabay

Among the very small number of truly “historic” events that I have witnessed personally was the burning down of the British embassy in Dublin in 1972 in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday when British troops killed 14 people at a civil rights march in Derry.

Over 20,000 people gathered in Merrion Square in Dublin and, according to press reports, hundreds of petrol bombs, stones and other missiles were hurled at the building eventually reducing it to a skeleton.

I was on the edge of the crowd, maybe a hundred yards from the embassy itself. I can’t remember how long I was there but it was certainly long enough to see a flaming object, no doubt a petrol bomb, rising from the crowd, describing a graceful arc across the night sky before disappearing through an upper floor window from which flames were already emerging, to accompanying satisfied cheers from the crowd. …

About

Daire O'Criodain

Former diplomat and aviation finance executive, active now mainly in not-for-profit sector. Living in rural Clare. Weekly posts on Wednesdays.

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