Friday, 27 February 2009

Bike Africa flags

So as you're watching Ireland provide the Engerlish with a much-increased-capacity rectum this weekend, keep an eye out for my friends if you would.

They're the ones who are cycling the length of Africa for charity not Drico, Paulo, Rono, Luko, Bullo and all my other pals on the Irish team. You see the former group have bought a bunch of huge flags to highlight their 'Bike Africa' campaign to raise money for several deserving charities.

My groupies (Hogesters?) will know that I've written about this touching (and frankly mental) gesture before but there's also link to their site on the right hand side of the page where you can read more and, much more importantly, donate some money.

Every little bit helps but you more than likely will spend eternity in hell if you don't give at least a tenner, as the bible says.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


O LORD if there's one thing that gets the old rage-twitches going it's this modern-day obsession with the boring-as-hell, everyday minutiae of celebrities lives.

What kind of pathetic, voyeuristic proles are we becoming that every blink, sniff and fart of even the most undeserving celebrities is gobbled up with such increasing voracity. Are our own lives so hopelessly dull?

Take this excerpt from the RTE website for example regarding an "awkward run-in" between well-known mentalist Tom Cruise and his old flame, goddess Penelope Cruz.

Why, oh why, oh why is a perceived awkward moment between two unimportant people on the other side of the world considered news? Why do we care?

People are starving, suffering, fighting and dying the world over and yet, in all likelihood, the awkward hug was probably one of the most clicked-on stories on the RTE site.

For the love of Thatcher, an awkward hug between two bloody actors. I could barely bring myself to care if a dozen of my best friends announced that they were going to shack up under one roof to form a bizarre polygamous sect and I wasn't invited.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Bo Bo's Mystery Photos 3

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I've been busy. I had a few days off work and spent most of the last week in the company of degenerates, skullduggerers and scoundrels who dwell in the kind of cesspits that have no purpose for an internet connection. It was heavenly.

But all good things must come to a crashing, Hindenburg-style end and sure enough, I am back in the land of the office-dwellers this morning. The good news for you, however, is that my return also means the return of Bo Bo's Mystery Photos!

Guesses in the comments section, first to get them all correct won't have to sacrifice their eldest son when the day of reckoning comes.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A moral victory

"A JAAAYSUS there's mildew on these shorts Johnny, I can't wear them," said McGoo, as he peered into a bag of rugby gear that had last seen daylight during a game against Cobh in early January.

After a night of what one could fairly describe as less-than-appropriate preparations, an early morning seconds match was about as welcome to myself and my housemate as a very thorough colonic irrigation.

But guarantees had been made and promises had to be kept so the two of us tripped and stumbled around the house, picking up items of gear - some with mildew, others without - and cursed the Irish team for having an afternoon match with the Italians meaning our game would have to be played at 12 noon.
Twelve noon? For a rugby match? Only a few hours after you've finished up drinking, dancing, sleazing and sweating the night away at a ball in the Clarion which - in fairness - was in aid of charity and therefore could justify any amount of porter consumption?

You heard me right. This wasn't going to be pretty for anyone involved, particularly the unfortunate second rows packing down behind me for the next hour and a half.

McGoo and I left our bunker on Ballinacurra for what should have been the short walk to Greenfields where we were scheduled to play Young Munsters. Unfortunately our bearings seemed to have been still a little discombobulated when we set off and we ended up getting quite lost in Ballinacurra, looking for a rugby pitch that we've each played on maybe 20 times over the years.

Thankfully, before long we recognised the backside of the Catholic Institute on our travels which we then circumnavigated to get back on track. Coynie had rang us by this point to say that he was on his way and was feeling as fresh as a daisy because he'd spent the previous night at home, taking it easy. The degenerate.

Any hope myself and the equally red-eyed, dry-throated McGoo had of taking it easy on the bench vanished when we walked in the door to see that - including our good selves - there were only 13 players. One more was coming, we were told, and chances are we would have to play the whole game with just 14 men.

"The ref won't allow this, it's madness. Isn't there some rule about having to have a full team?" I thought.

Not so, as it turns out. The referee came over to us just before kick off to ask if we had any more players coming and, upon hearing our answer, let out a very audible snigger and a "fair play to ye lads" but did not call off the game.

Off he trotted to get things underway while I stood there just sneering at him, like he was the Governer who could have saved me from the chair but said he'd watch me sizzle instead because it'd be better craic. The monster.

So, like a heavily wounded and outnumbered army, we took to war with about as much chance of winning as Maggie Thatcher in a 12-rounder with Floyd Mayweather.

But, like a team of highly-motivated hobos, we hassled them like a persistent wife, hit rucks as if there was chocolate in the middle, and despite our numerical disadvantage stayed in touch - and for a while, ahead of - Munsters.

Now wouldn't it be lovely if this story finished with us achieving an impossible victory? Well, unfortunately it was not to be but a final scoreline of 33-26 wasn't too shabby at all considering the various numerical, organisational and sobriety issues on our side.

And if Munster's close loss to the All Blacks in November is anything to go by, moral victories are still hugely appreciated in these parts so we can hold our heads high. I just can't help thinking what we could have done with 15.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Christian Bale rant remix

For the handful of you who haven't heard the Christian Bale rant at a director of photography on the set of the new Terminator movie for walking in his eyeline while doing a scene, give it a listen here. Pretty crazy stuff but not for the easily offended.

Now that you've done that, give this a listen. Absolutely hilarious (not to mention flawless) dance remix done using excerpts from his rant. Priceless and surpringly catchy.

I downloaded it to my ipod yesterday and gave more than one person a shock on the way into work this morning as I sang along to the chorus.

"What don't you f***ing understand!!!?"

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Bike Africa 2009

Do me the courtesy of ignoring the fact that this picture looks a little like a bizarrely inappropriate funeral cortege.

On the left are three old classmates of mine, Maghnus Collins-Smyth, Orla Duggan and Brian O'Shea.

In a few months the two lads, and another pal of their's from college, are heading off to cycle the length of Africa in aid of charity (much to the distress of their mothers).

As far as I know, Orla hasn't taken them up on the offer of joining them just yet.

"Madness," I hear you say. "What ever happened to holding a good old fashioned table quiz?"

But, in fairness to the lads, it's an incredibly noble act that will cost them a fair bit of their own money (seen as they're financing all their own expenses).

They've worked themselves to the bone organising fundraisers, such as a Valentine's ball/hooley/piss-up/lunatic convention in the Clarion this weekend, and I was glad to give them a bit of publicity in this week's Leader.

The full article is below and a link to their site, where you can read about their charities and make a donation, is on the right hand side of this page. Anything you can give is greatly appreciated.

Piece that featured in the Leader this week:

WITH a rock-hard cast stretching from his ankle to upper thigh, Maghnus Collins-Smyth does not appear like a man who, in a matter of months, will embark on a 95-day, 8,000-kilometre charity cycle along the length of Africa.

Admittedly, his scraggly beard, ruffled hair and casual dress all give off the impression of a young aspiring explorer, keen to satisfy his wanderlust before joining everyone else in the real world. The admission, however, that he doesn’t actually own a bike doesn’t do any favours for that particular image.

“O’Shea has two bikes at home so I’ll be able to do all my road practice using one of them once I’ve got the cast off,” he explains, while attempting - without any great degree of success - to get comfortable on a stool too low for someone in his predicament.

“We’re getting touring bikes for the actual trip then, they’re a hybrid between a mountain bike and racer to cope with all the different terrains.”

The cast was put in place five weeks ago, following an operation to stabilise the 24-year-old Parteen native’s knee, and is due to be removed this weekend. Although scheduled to take place several months later, Maghnus explains that the procedure was kindly brought forward by Professor Masterson in Croom Hospital, after he outlined his ambitious plans for the summer.

“O’Shea” is Maghnus’s former Crescent College classmate, current Old Crescent clubmate - and luckily the owner of two bikes - Brian O’Shea, from Monaleen. Along with Coleraine-based David Burns - whom they met through college friends - Maghnus and Brian will spend this summer pedalling from Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa, taking in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Swaziland along the way.

After making inquiries about working for a charity in Africa several months ago, Maghnus found his options limited by a combination of an old injury and the worldwide recession. Thus Bike Africa 2009 was born.

“I fractured three vertebrae in my back on a building site a few years ago and because of that, I wouldn’t be able for the kind of consecutive days of labour and lifting that would be expected of you with some charities,” he explains.

“I looked into working with a few AIDS Education organisations but they said that because of the times, it would be more beneficial to raise funds. This seemed like a way of getting to see Africa while also doing our bit and contributing money to those who need it so badly.”

While Maghnus had already identified this summer as the period when he would fulfil his dream of travelling to Africa, Brian received the push he needed when he, along with 200 other Kostal workers in Abbeyfeale, was asked to take voluntary redundancy.

“I knew Maghnus was doing it and it sounded like an incredible experience but it wasn’t until the redundancies were announced that it became a possibility for me too,” he says.

“I have four weeks to spare in between our departure date and when I finish up in Abbeyfeale. It actually suits me perfectly because I can really crank up the training for that final month.”

Before departing for Africa, Maghnus, Brian and David have planned a number of fundraising events, the first of which is a Valentine’s Ball at the Clarion Hotel this weekend which sold out several weeks ago. A quiz night, an evening of fine dining, an auction and a golf classic have also been planned for the coming weeks.

For now, Friends in Ireland, Out of Africa Mission Sports Academy and St Gabriel’s school in Limerick have been selected as beneficiaries of the fundraising efforts. However, the cycling trio have been in contact with - and plan to visit - a number of different charities en route and add them to that list.

Each of the three are keen to emphasise that all the proceeds from their fundraising will go towards their selected charities, not travel expenses.

“We reckon it will cost us about €3,500 each to do the cycle and we’re raising that ourselves,” says Brian. “We think we’ll be spending about €10 a day there but you have to factor in flights, visas, spare parts, medication, tents and our immunisation injections. We’re hoping to get the bikes sponsored so anyone that’s interested can get in touch with us through the website.”

With Maghnus soon to be released from his plaster of Paris prison, conditioning work will dominate his, Brian’s and David’s lives until they leave in June. The latter’s father is a doctor - which has come in useful for their immunisation jabs - but he has also given dietary and exercise advice, recommending that each of them gain a stone so as to combat inevitable weight loss in the summer.

As well as preparing their bodies for the strain of cycling 600 kilometres a week from one side of the equator to the other, the three have also been stocking up on equipment necessary for three months spent on the road.

“We’re getting a high-frequency transmitter to keep rabid dogs from out tents at night. Obviously we’ll have to get a strong tent as well and make sure to pitch it carefully so there won’t be any unexpected visitors,” Maghnus says.

“We’ve been getting tips and advice from a Dutch couple who are cycling our route at the moment but they’re doing it from South Africa to Egypt. They’ve told us that lions and most other wild animals tend to stay away from the roads we’ll be camping near so hopefully that won’t be an issue either.”

Most young males won’t be surprised to find that one of the toughest obstacles Maghnus and Brian have encountered in their preparations thus far has been convincing their mothers to give their approval.

“Well they didn’t believe us at first,” says Brian. “But when they started seeing roadmaps arriving in the post and saw us doing proper research, they knew it was happening. It took a bit of convincing but we’ve assured them we’ll be fine. I have my sister’s wedding to be back for in September so I’ll be taking every precaution.”

Maghnus, Brian and David have set up a website,, featuring their charities of choice and updates on their fundraising events. The site also features a service allowing visitors to make an unspecified donation using a credit of laser card. Donations can also be made by texting KEY AFRICA to 53341, deducting €2.60 from your credit. They also expressed their thanks to Tony Connolly Menswear, Snap Printing and the Clarion Hotel for their support.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bo Bo's mystery photos 2

Time for another selection of Bo Bo's mystery photos chaps and chapettes.

As with last week, the first person to correctly guess where the pictures were taken in Limerick will win eternal life.

Second place gets a toaster.

Monday, 9 February 2009


Some of you may have noticed that the widely-read, much-beloved, ever-revered Stuff and Nonsense column did not feature in last week's Leader.

Unfortunately because of spatial constrictions and a declining interest in toilet humour, S+N had to be pushed out and now my uninformed rants will be restricted to the world-wide-inter-highway.

I know this must be a hard time for both of my loyal followers but I have reassured my parents that we will get through this.

Family flowers only please. Donations can be made if desired in cash to John Hogan, 54 O'Connell Street, Limerick.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Bo Bo's mystery photos

I have a friend named Bo Bo. He's quite the accomplished amateur photographer.
Can you tell where in Limerick these photos were taken?