There’s not a lot to do these days other than think.
And I find myself thinking about all those years spent working in newspapers.
The Herald, Independent, Sunday Independent, The Star, the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday World and now getting the odd piece into the Irish Times!
I’ve written down loads of things that happened over the years, some funny, some sad.
Here are three that sprang to mind.
BOMB SCARE IN THE OLYMPIA
It was, I think, back in the late 70s or early 80s. I was certainly still working with the Indo in Abbey Street. And it was at the height of the “Troubles.”
It was a Sunday night and I was on duty. The television was on in the background – RTE’s live show from the Olympia was on.
It was an unusual programme in that trainloads and busloads of people came up from rural Ireland to make up the audience.
It featured Irish stars and was extremely popular. Well, extremely popular everywhere except in our office.
Someone did notice, however, when an announcement was made that the programme was going off the air due to some unspecified problem.
Turned out they’d received a bomb scare.
A caller had warned there was a package under one of the seats in the theatre.
Once the all clear was given – it took forever – I was told to call the gardai in Pearse Street to find out what happened..
The garda I spoke to told me why it took so long to give the all clear.
“Because,” he said, “we were told to check under the seats for a suspicious package.
“And guess what? We found a package under every fuckin’ seat.” He paused.
And then explained: “Sandwiches.”
DEADLINE FOR JUSTICE
I was sent to a district court – not my usual haunt in Kilmainham.
It was Dun Laoghaire, and I wasn’t familiar with either the judge or the surroundings.
But I knew the elderly court reporter who worked there virtually all the time.
I was late. As far as I remember I was sent at the last minute to fill in for someone who had called in sick.
I asked my colleague if I had missed anything.
He slid his notebook over to me.
There was one story.
It was about Micky Murphy (we’ll call him that as I have no recollection of the name).
“Describing the defendant as a thug and a coward Justice* today sentenced Micky Murphy of Sallynoggin to six months imprisonment for an assault on another man.
Justice* said Murphy was a disgrace and that his behaviour on the night was unforgivable.” And so on.
I copied it, thanked my colleague and sat back.
After about an hour of boredom, another case was called.
It was Micky Murphy. And he was from Sallynoggin. And he was charged with assault.
The judge listened.
And when he had heard the evidence, he described Murphy as a thug and a coward and said he was a disgrace and his behaviour on the night was unforgivable. And he sentenced him to six months in prison.
I looked at my colleague.
“Ah well, we get on well me and the judge and he likes to give me a story for the early edition.”
*(I won’t name the judge to save his family embarrassment!)
A FLIGHT THAT ALMOST PUT ME OFF FLYING
I was a regular in Eastern Europe for a while. We had games in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and not only did I have to attend the matches, I had, in the weeks preceding the games, to travel to these countries to write preview pieces for the fans who would be traveling and indeed, for those we weren’t going to be able to make the trip.
When I made the preview trips, I generally travelled alone.
And so, on one occasion, I was flying from Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, to Warsaw, capital of Poland.
I checked in, went through security, and walked to the plane.
It was a small plane for a commercial airline and held only around 34 or 35 passengers.
The first thing that struck me when I boarded was, that despite the fact that the plane was being refuelled, several passengers were smoking. With the door open. And the cabin crew watching.
I didn’t like it.
But eventually, the cigarettes were put out and we were told – at least I presume we were told because I didn’t understand a word of the announcements – to prepare for departure.
Then, just before they closed the door, six or seven passengers rushed on.
There were no seats for them.
Two walked straight into the cockpit.
Five stood for the entire flight which lasted just over an hour or, in my case, a lifetime.
Nobody else seemed to be in the slightest bit concerned.
But I seriously thought about travelling home overland!
(Might stick a few more up tomorrow – totally at random!)