Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Horribly wrong

The oasis has shrunk as the sand dunes encroach.
The nomads move on with no word of reproach.
The farmers still struggle to till the dry land
But can’t call a halt to the onrushing sand.

The night has extinguished the clear light of day.
The walls of the temple begin to decay.
The firm fleshy tubers lie blackened and dry
Upon the proud furrows that plead with the sky.

Suddenly all has gone horribly wrong,
Since two weeks ago when the Reds were on song.
The summer rain flees from the drought from the north
And from top position, we’ve now slipped to fourth.

A Tolka Murder Mystery by Christie Agatha

Chapter 4 – Of murder and marmalade
Even a hardened detective like McBiscuit was so upset at the sight that greeted their eyes in Tolka Park that he could barely finish his third packet of Hunky Dory’s.
From the crossbar at the Ballybough end dangled the lifeless body of a man (“between twenty and ninety” noted McBiscuit carefully), a taut Shels scarf from the Deportivo era wound around his neck. Beneath him lay a puddle of water, drops still cascading off the ends of his trousers. A watering can lay in the vicinity like a nearby watering can. On the penalty spot stood an easel.
McBiscuit glanced at the sheet of paper on the easel. It was a charcoal and pen drawing of the scene, composed of bold strokes that hinted at authority yet captured pithily the pathos of the scene with its undercurrents of social exclusion and otherness.
“What are your thoughts, constable?” said McBiscuit with a sharp intake of breath.
“They mainly revolve around a Swedish air hostess and a jar of marmalade, sir,” responded the constable warily, with a sharp out-take of breath, which McBiscuit in-took quickly.
“Do we know who the dead man is?”
“Yes, sir. He’s the victim.”
The D.I. felt the dead man’s wrist. “I’m sure there was no dead body here at the last home match,” he mused wistfully. “The assistant referee would surely have noticed it when the netting was checked. I therefore deduce that the crime was committed since then.”
“But the watering can, sir?” asked the constable. “And the charcoal and pen drawing of the scene, composed of bold strokes that hint at authority yet capture pithily the pathos of the scene with its undercurrents of social exclusion and otherness?”
McBiscuit stroked his chin. Then he stroked the constable’s chin. He moved to the edge of the penalty area and squatted down, holding his arm out in front of him like an amateur golfer pretending to know what he is doing. Then with a triumphant “Aha!” he whipped the unabridged copy of the Encyclopaedia Hibernica out of his inside pocket and leafed excitedly through volume eighteen.
“Got it!” he yelled, his finger pressed to the page. “The easel. The watering can. This explains everything. Constable, it appears our man here is the first recorded case in four hundred years of somebody who has been hung, drawn and watered.”

The dead man was eventually named as Quasimodo O’Shaughnessy. “Bit late in the day to be naming him,” spat McBiscuit caustically. “That should have been done when he was born. Imagine the poor chap going through life without a name.”
“Quasimodo?” mused the constable. “That name seems to ring a bell.”
McBiscuit strode to the filing cabinet and pulled out a file. Carefully he manicured his finger nails with it.
“Seems he was a bit of a Shels groupie,” he said. “Always hanging around Tolka Park. Bit of a hanger-on. Used to phone up the club and then hang up. Used to hang out in a hangar out in Baldonnell, eating hang sandwiches. I can’t help thinking that somewhere there’s a connection between his lifestyle and the way that he died.”
“I’ve taken statements from everyone at the club as you instructed,” said the constable, whipping out his notebook.
“Anything curious?” answered McBiscuit, sitting up, all ears.
“Well, just one thing,” said the constable, glancing nervously at the vast collection of ears in front of him. “It appears that many people think that peanut butter would spread better than marmalade.”
“I see, constable,” pondered the D.I. doubtfully. “And the case?”
The constable glanced down at the suitcase he was standing on.
“I’m on it, sir,” he announced.

“Another Murder at Tolka!” trumpeted the headline in the Independent. “What is McBiscuit doing?” clarinetted the Irish Daily Mail. “Playboy Sex-Swap Pig Farmer was my Gay Lover!” glockenspieled the Sun.
The newspapers lay on the desk of Commissioner Salami. In front of him, McBiscuit stood in an old shirt and work trousers, having been given a good dressing down. Commissioner Salami scrunched up the newspapers and flung them on the fire. The flames soared.
“You may call me Kildare County. I need results!” he hissed at McBiscuit. “I’m beginning to feel the heat.”
“Yes sir. We are following a definite line of enquiry, sir.”
“And what might that be?”
“We are asking everybody if they committed the murders and watching their eyes carefully, sir.” Suddenly McBiscuit let his suitcase slip but managed to catch it before it hit the ground.
The Commissioner appeared mollified. “Very well. You appear to have the case under control. Carry on.”
As McBiscuit turned to go, the Commissioner added, “And tell your constable that I’m partial to a bit of apricot jam myself.”

Mrs Ingle, please pray tell

Mrs Ingle, please pray tell
(For my nerves are shot to hell)
Tell me how young Wesley’s doing over there?
Is he pining for his home
Far away o’er sea and foam?
Is he getting any tender loving care?

There were times he seemed so small,
Defenders shrugged him off the ball,
Maternal instincts flared with every foul
And the day he went away
We begged him on our knees to stay,
As his forlorn figure chilled us to the bowel.

Up to Livingstone he went,
Where the poor wee wretch then spent
A lot of time out injured eating porridge.
Then to Blackpool where his skill
Mesmerised the fans until
Money talked and off he went to Norwich.

We had heard that your last coach
Utilised the wrong approach
To get the best from players such as Wes.
But it seems our darling son
Is now on something of a run,
At least that’s what a friend in Wymondham says.

Yes we miss him very much,
Miss that feint and great first touch.
Since he went away we haven’t been the same.
And of course we wish him well
But Mrs. Ingle, please pray tell
Do you think that he will make it in the game?
(The following reply was received by Norwich City poet SB Ingle on the www.footballpoets.org website)

Greeting Pete: Carrow Road: Chez Wes


Hoolahan could be a hero

A fans favourite elsewhere

He's been slow to settle in

But now he's reaching for fifth gear

Wes is only five foot six

We play "little man - little man"

Strike force rubbish aerially

We need a cunning plan

Cureton is five foot eight

Our attack is lacking height

We need a leg-up to climb the league

The bottom rungs in sight!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Tolka Murder Mystery by Christie Agatha

Chapter 3 – The Murderer Strikes Again

The discovery of the body of football triallist John Clapper beneath the roller at Tolka Park had caused quite a stir at Shelbourne Football Club. This was never more apparent than in the game against Limerick FC, when DI McBiscuit insisted that the murder scene remain cordoned off and the players were told to avoid the ten yard square area of pitch at the Ballybough end.
The receipt of a sick letter from the murderer had given McBiscuit a lead but unfortunately when he followed it up there was a vicious Jack Russell on the other end of it and he had to run into the local Spar to evade its snapping jaws.
Back in the office, the constable patiently explained to McBiscuit that the phrase “being on trial at Shels” did not have criminal implications.
Somewhere over the city, a clock struck ten times.
“I have a feeling he will strike again,” said McBiscuit.
“No, sir,” said the constable, checking his watch. “It’s only ten o’clock.”
“No, the murderer, I mean. I have a definite hunch.”
“Oh, it’s not so bad when you stand in profile, sir,” offered the constable.
McBiscuit suddenly strode over to the fridge, flung open the door and pulled out a battered old suitcase. He felt it carefully. “The case is growing cold, constable,” he announced mournfully.
“Yes, sir. What we really need is another murder, I suppose.”

It was a glorious sunny day as the squad car drove through the town of Athenry, heading westwards.
“Look at the way those free birds are flying,” murmured McBiscuit. “Curious, eh?”
“It’s a result of the prevailing geographical phenomena, sir,” answered the constable. “They’ve no need to fly particularly high because, as you see, the surrounding fields lie very low.”
The journey had begun earlier in the day when, as a result of secret surveillance, several of the major suspects of the murder had been seen to board the same bus in Dublin.
“Maybe they are all in it together?” surmised McBiscuit, as the bus left the Pale. “Did you ever see Murder on the Orient Express?”
“Or maybe it’s the team bus and the players are on their way to Terryland Park to play Mervue United,” replied the constable, a remark which had the DI brooding darkly for an hour or more until he found that brooding lightly was more comfortable.
The constable’s suggestion proved correct and the bus disgorged its plethora of players outside the revamped Terryland. McBiscuit watched them closely as they alighted but was disappointed that none wore the tell-tale signs of a murderer, except perhaps Alan Keely, whose beard immediately marked him out as a person of ill repute.
“Just a moment, driver,” said McBiscuit curtly, flashing his wallet as he ascended the steps.
“Your Dunnes Stores Club card?” replied the driver evenly.
McBiscuit flicked his wallet open again and this time proffered his police badge. The driver shrugged and the two men walked down the bus.
“What are we looking for exactly, sir?” asked the constable.
“Clues, constable, clues!” came the curt rejoinder. “Honestly we’ll never make a detective out of you.”
He stopped suddenly and bent down and picked up a copy of Nuts from the coach floor. “A forestry magazine,” he said, reading the title. He flicked through a few pages. “Good Lord, constable!” he uttered. “What do you make of this?”
Pages six and seven were full of holes as though somebody had cut letters out of the articles in order to compose an anonymous letter.
Before the constable could answer, McBiscuit’s phone rang. He answered it and listened as an excited voice on the other end relayed some urgent information. Then he said “Right!” and thrust his phone back in his pocket.
“What is it, sir?” asked the constable.
“It’s a phone,” explained McBiscuit. “A device for communicating with people who would ordinarily be out of earshot. Come on, back to the car!”
They jumped down from the bus and sprinted over to their car like a police constable and his superior officer.
“Where to, sir?” cried the constable, starting the engine.
“Back to Dublin!” responded the DI. “There’s been another murder!”
Leaning back, he pulled his battered old suitcase off the back shelf, where it had been sitting in the sun. He felt it carefully.
“Do you know, constable,” he said at last. “I do believe this case is hotting up at last.”

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Slow start to the season for Ghent?

Chilling words

When you plummet from the summit
To the bottom of the hill
And your body’s lying, badly bruised and broken,
There are words, once for the birds,
That send your blood into a chill –
Words you never dreamed you might hear spoken.

“There’s quite a crowd,” you say out loud,
When the numbers reach four figures.
“It’s really great to see a large attendance.”
“Brilliant play!” you’re heard to say
(As the Bohs supporter sniggers)
At three passes you’ll recount to your descendants.

The perspective is subjective,
Things are diff’rent looking up –
The same events but viewed from a new angle.
A single win can now begin
To be “a good run in the Cup.”
The draw to play Dundalk makes nerve-ends jangle.

But last week, ‘twas more oblique.
And they cut me long and deep,
Recurring words that haunt me constantly.
It’s a phrase that doth amaze
And it’s caused me loss of sleep –
“Next week the Big One – versus UCD.”