Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sir Lancelot, the Chariot of Liberation

Without a shadow of a doubt, the saddest event of 2009 (for The Hoge at least) occurred last week. I've only summoned up the resolve to write about it now and even still, I can't promise that I won't be wailing like a banshee by the end.

This is Lance. On the surface he may seem like a pretty average nine-year-old Mitsubishi Lancer with undersized, paint-chipped alloys.

But to me, my first car was a chariot of liberation.

After saving for the whole summer of 2006 and still not having enough money to buy a car, I begged my father to accompany me to an auction in Newbridge and provide the necessary financial clout to get a half decent motor.

Only after I assured him that Christmas and birthdays would no longer apply to me did Mr Hoge agree to the trip and stump up for half the price.

Upon arriving at the auction, we surveyed the array of Garda cars, reclaimed vehicles and 'quick sells' from dealerships around the country that would go under the hammer that day. A few possible purchases were identified but Lance wasn't one of them. We hadn't spotted him among the crowd due to his understated, classic beauty.

As the auction unfolded, each one of the cars we had earmarked climbed up to prices out of the range we had agreed upon on the way up from Limerick. My heart crumbled when the last one we had noted was swept out of my hands. I would be going home in the passenger seat of my father's car, the same way I arrived.

And then; my first ever car came into the auction showroom. Lance didn't turn too many heads at first but mine did a positive 360 around the top of my spine.

"We're getting that one dad."
"I don't know, we didn't even look at that, it could fall apart on the way home."
"NO! It's perfect, we'll get that one."

After a bidding war with a young couple who had also spotted the potential in the dirty Lancer, we took it home for €2,300. There was no radio in the car when we bought it, but who the bloody hell needs one when you're singing triumphantly all the way home?

Having Lance meant no more asking my parents for lifts or paying to get on a smelly bus, not to mention the end of kissing the arse of passing acquaintances in exchange for a lift. Now mine was the squeaky clean arse as a result of all the kisses it was enjoying on a daily basis.

Over the next three years, not a peep, not so much as an unwelcome puff of smoke eminated from under Lance's bonnet. And this despite my initially less than diligent approach to caring for the car.

On more than one (on more than ten being honest about it) occasions, Lance also served as a bed to me and several of my pals - when laziness or being broke meant that more traditional accommodation arrangements weren't an option.

I still remember waking up in the passenger seat in a car park in Lahinch one morning, looking out at the beautiful sea and thinking; 'You can shove your hostel up your arse'.

And now he's gone. Plane tickets to Canada don't come cheap so I sold Lance to a young fella from Kerry who also spotted the Lancer's potential only a day after I put it up for sale on Carzone.

It was his first car too and he had the same look of delirious excitement in his eyes when I handed him the keys.

Of course when I sold Lance to the young fella, a radio had by now been installed. But I'm almost certain I could hear the new owner singing triumphantly to himself as he pulled my beloved first car out of my driveway for the very last time.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Some housekeeping

A FEW matters have arisen over the last few days, that need tending to before I go any further.

As I've said before, I'm leaving and there's nothing you can do about it. I announced my departure to Canada a while back right here on The Spot and within minutes of the posting, a gent calling himself 'chaoloughlin' left a comment, offering to answer any questions I may have prior to my departure for Vancouver.

He turned out to be a fellow Bruff-ite (although one whose acquaintance I hadn't yet made) and an absolute gentleman to boot who has already been a great help. He may well regret having offered his expertise, however, after I spend the next three weeks besieging him with wave after wave of the same banal, mind-numbing questions.

Anyway, I just thought it warranted mentioning. It's soul-warming to get the odd reminder that not everyone is a clueless, self-server with their cranium permanently situated in their rectum.

Speaking of which.

At the start of the month I posted my Lions XV and while it may not have been everybody's cup of Bovril, it was reasonably well received by the diverse barstool-pundit brigade in Limerick. Looking back on it there's definitely a few changes I'd have to make (Wally in, Martyn Williams out) but one decision I certainly wouldn't change is my selection of Stephen Ferris at six.

After a Six Nations that put him on to several Teams of the Season, nobody found it surprising that I would pick the barstorming Ulsterman on the flank. Nobody, that is, until scottishpride voiced his displeasure in the comments section on the post this week.

"you dont know what you are on about, stephen ferris shouldnt be in the squad let alone the starting line up, cwatson, s.burger, j.smith, k.kankowski and peirre spies would absolutly nail him, he wouldnt stand a chance out there."

Even without the ridiculous name (apparently you can take pride in being a poor man's Ireland), scottishpride would still seem to be from the loony strain of toons.

How anyone watching Ferris in action in the Six Nations could possibly think he is anything other than a Lions frontrunner is beyond even my simple mind.

Even those viewing with absolutely no knowledge of the game would have told you he was clearly one of the best backrowers in Europe.

Even a monk from the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism who has spent the last 50 years massaging the Dalai Lama's corns and emerged to see his first ever game of rugby this February would say;

"Hory Shit! He's got the Rions jersey in the bag!"

Perhaps scottishpride would have preferred if one of the Scottish backrow made the tour, bringing the nation's entire Lions representation up to three. Not even your fellow Scotsman (and Lions head coach) Ian McGeechan would agree with you though.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Friends, Romans, countrymen; Lend me your guitars

Cool idea here pointed out to be my Bock.

David Irwin is looking for all you generous guitarists out there to lend the tools of your trade to the Hunt Museum for a month.

I'd lend mine but I fear that after a few days in Canada, I may have to start busking for food. Either that or prostituting myself out and I don't even know if I still fit into the heels and hotpants anymore.

Here's a word from David

Players and others:An urgent call to guitarists in the Mid-West of Ireland.You may not be aware of the huge number of classic, vintage, rare, and beautiful axes lying unappreciated in private collections.

Everybody knows someone who has squirrelled away a tasty Martin parlour guitar, or a Cherry 335 dot, or a genuine pre-CBS Strat, or a peculiar lute thing from Eastern Europe. Isn't it a shame that these works of art are rarely seen or appreciated?

What if we had a chance to display them?A special exhibition of guitars will take place in the Hunt Museum very soon for which we are actively seeking exhibits.

We are interested in all types of guitar (acoustic, electric, pedal-steel, bass, resonator, nylon, 12-string) as well as other interesting fretted string instruments (lute, mandola, bouzouki, cittern, etc).

Do you have an interesting piece in your collection?

Can you spare it for a month or so?

Do you know someone else who might?

If you wish to help and would like your guitar to be considered for inclusion, please send me details of your guitar (make, model, year) and a photograph if possible.

Each exhibit will be accompanied by descriptive text, acknowledging the lender and explaining the more interesting features of the design.

David Irwin


In association with The Hunt Museumand supported by RTÉ lyric fm


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Kiwi Golf

WHAT with the weather being so nice and my departure from these shores growing ever closer, myself, Coynie, McGoo and The Kiwi decided we'd try something new and take on a round of golf.

Being under the age of 40 and still somewhat able-bodied, it's rare enough that our crew would go on such an excursion. However, through a bit of dumb luck the Kiwi had gotten us a free round at a beautiful course just about three quarters of an hour away from Limerick.

While walking through the city in his flip flops, shorts and T-Shirt (as is a New Zealander's wont on a freezing cold Irish afternoon) The Kiwi was stopped by another native of the Land of the Long White Cloud.

"You know you'd pass for a New Zealander," said the lady.
"That's because I am a New Zealander," replied our Kiwi.
"O well, if you're looking for work or just a free round of golf then you should come out to XXXXXXX golf course, my boyfriend's the green keeper there," said she.
"Alright then I will." said he.

So just like that - in an economic climate where the average Irish person would accept 10 cent an hour for a job taste-testing septic tanks - The Kiwi had managed to get a free round of golf and a feckin' job to boot. As if taking (although sampling is probably a better word) our women wasn't bad enough, now the foreigner had started robbing our jobs and free golf rounds also.

But all was forgiven on Saturday morning when The Kiwi told us he'd booked us all in for a 3.15 tee-off time at the course. Coynie agreed to drive and just as we left our lair, The Kiwi said that we'd to stop at the shop for provisions.

A bottle of water, a few bananas, maybe even some sun cream given the weather. These were the things we expected our resident New Zealander had meant by "provisions". What we didn't realise is that what he actually required was 18 cans of Budweiser which he intended on us drinking as we played.

"Well how do you play it here then?" he asked upon hearing the gasps and seeing our expressions, as he struggled to fit all that canned fun into our golf bags.

But being the sorts that are open to new experiences however, we said we'd give The Kiwi's different, more rock star-ish approach to golf a go. Being the disgruntled designated driver, Coynie didn't speak much on the way out while the three of us got the party started.

Now before you go thinking we made an absolute disgrace of ourselves on the course, hollering abuse at other (paying) golfers, climbing the trees and defecating in the holes, don't worry.

While we may have gotten a few funny looks, adorned as we were in flip-flops, bruff rfc warm up t-shirts and occasionally putting with just one hand because the other was holdin a can of Bud, the feathers at the course remained relatively unruffled.

I'd recommend Kiwi Golf though. It mightn't make you the most accurate or well-mannered player in the world but it certainly livens up the sodding game.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Broke and Regretful in Vancouver

I finally did it. After several self-administered pep talks and more than one false start, I managed to bite the bullet and join the tiny minority of people who have left their job by choice in 2009.

Not happy with the job Hoge? Not the case. Actually I don't think I've ever enjoyed it more.

Well have you been offered a better job? No, I am officially unemployed come May 15.

Generous redundancy package? Hahahahahaha (pause for breath) Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.......

Right so if your happy with the job, you don't have a better one lined up and there's no financial incentive to quit, what the bloody hell are you doing?

My close friends have called it a number of things; temporary insanity, youthful short-sightedness, the actions of an oblivious simpleton (thanks Mam) but, despite their warnings, I have decided to up and leave life in Limerick, for now at least.

And where - I hear you ask - am I headed for this new adventure as an unemployed, travelling former journalist? Well - I reply - it's the land of ice hockey, French people who aren't actually French, and Celine Dione. It's Canada!

A number of months ago, I applied for a 12-month visa to Canada without giving it much thought. Kind of a 'Sure I'll have it just in case' sort of thing. It's good for 12 months on from when you land in the country so I had all of 2009 to decide if I wanted to leave my loving family and indifferent friends to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic.

Despite having no job, very little money saved, no accommodation sorted and not even a flight booked yet, I handed in my notice to the boss on Friday.

After doing a couple of victory laps around his desk while singing the version of 'Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio' normally reserved for sin-binned opposition players in Thomond Park, he told me I'd be missed.

But don't threaten to set yourselves alight unless I retract my notice of retirement from the Leader just yet.

You will still be able to get your fix of Hoge as I will continue to post my musings right here, letting you know of the trials and tribulations of trying and quite possibly failing to enter gainful employment in Canada.

Orwell had 'Down and Out in Paris and London', prepare for 'Broke and Regretful in Vancouver'.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Clueless old farts

These are construction workers in Dubai.

On average they earn about £120 a month, despite working 12-hours a day, six days a week.

During the day, they work on sites where health & safety and workers rights are unheard of. At night they live in specially-built, cramped-to-the-point-of-being-dangerous labour camps.

They are being exploited.

THIS is Pete Waterman.

He is the pop impressario ( a fancy name for a manager with notions above his station) responsible for the hits of such greats as Jason Donovan and Rick Astley.

Not content with polluting the airwaves with such gunge for profit, Waterman also ripped the heart right out of music by creating Pop Idol, meaning there are legions of youngsters who have never heard a song being sung by anyone other than a fame-craving, insecure reality TV 'star'.

And he's dishonest. When managing the group, One True Voice, during 'Popstars: The Rivals' in 2002, Waterman said he'd kill himself if his charges didn't make the Christmas number one.
They didn't and he didn't.
In certain societies, Waterman would be hung by his testiclay for crimes against common decency, but while gestating in our overly-liberal corner of the planet, he has instead ammassed a personal estimated fortune of £42m.

And yet, he puts himself in the same boat as the exploited workers in Dubai because Youtube won't pay him every single time one of his haemorrhage-inducing tunes is played on the site.

The clueless old fart was whinging this week that despite the popularity of 'Never gonna give you up' - which he co-wrote for Rick Astley - on Youtube, he has only received £11 to add to his mountain of cash.
Why, you may ask, has such a cringey song become so popular on the site? Well, for the only reason such a ridiculous ditty could become popular again really; comedic value.
The 'Rickrolling' phenomenon involved web users sending each other web links that appeared to be relevant to something they were discussing, but were in fact disguised links to the Astley song on YouTube.
According to, while discussing this gross injustice, Waterman said; "Panorama did a documentary on the exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai. I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year's work off Google or YouTube than they did off the Bahrain government."'
Next week; Louis Walsh compares his plight with that of millions of starving Rwandans as he waits a full 40 minutes for a pizza delivery.
Read the whole gut-wrenching story of Waterman's exploitation here

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Bo Bo's Mystery Photos 4

APOLOGIES for how long it took me to get round to another installment of Bo Bo's Mystery Photos but I'd a huge amount of procrastination to get through.

Limerickites shouldn't have too much trouble identifying the first two pics but I've thrown a real stinker in at the end.

72 Virgins on roller skates in heaven for the first correct answer.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Keith Earls arrested

Don't worry, our boy wonder hasn't resorted to a career of crime just yet. This is pretty hilarious and realistic looking though. Make sure to maximise the page when it opens so it can be read.

Click here for the funniness.

Update: For some reason, the text and link on this post wasn't showing up when you came on to the site. I've had a word in Mr Blogspot's ear this morning though and I think the problem has been remedied.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Skip-dwelling Toilet Duck-drinker

I bought an album by The Pogues over the weekend.

I used to have their greatest hits in college and would often listen to it when we were drinking in Corrib Village or trying to impress exchange students with how incredibly Oirish we were.

Foolishly, I lent it to a friend who lost the CD and, being a student, he couldn't afford to buy me a new one. If you're reading this now Jack, I hear the pay is decent for teachers (especially if you consider what their hourly rate adds up to) so feel free to pay your dues whenever the mood takes you.

Unpaid debts aside, it was a joy to renew my relationship with Shane and the lads over the weekend. For someone who looks like he has spent most of his life in a skip, drinking Toilet Duck, McGowan has (had?) an amazing talent for putting together some genuinely touching lyrics.

This line from A rainy night in Soho one is one of my favourites;

'I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last'

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Hoge's Lions XV

Right, I've been thinking on this one for a while.

Seeing as I eat, sleep, breathe, write and occasionally even play rugby with the best yellow and wine-jersey'd club in the country, I feel a weight of expectation on my shoulders when it comes to predicting my Lions XV.

Obviously no such expectation lies with Mr Chalkboard, however, who sees rugby as a town in Warwickshire first, and a sport second.

Viewing his Lions selection gives a whole new meaning to fantasy rugby (as in "You're on the kind of hallucinogens that induce intense fantasies if you think Rory Best is going to travel let alone start for the Lions. May I have some please?").

Judging by his team, Chalkey used a blindfold, darts and a dartboard covered in the names of every rugby player in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales to make his selection.

I however have applied more stringent criteria. Some decisions have been agonised over for days, made me irritable, caused rashes, seen me wake up on the bedroom floor weeping my eyes out as I splutter snot-drenched apologies to all those players who have landed on the wrong side of a close call.

But after many sleepless nights, some consultation with friends (leading to the cessation of some friendships) and a liberal helping of medication, I have come up with my fifteen.

Before I name them though, I feel honour-bound to make apologies to John Hayes (the paddocks are too hard in South Africa for the Bull I feel), Luke Fitzgerald (it would be too much or a risk to have two slight wingers so Williams just about shades it) and David Wallace (Not a traditional 7 which we will need this summer, a genuine chance at 8 but Heaslip just about gets the nod).

I should also point out that I reckon the upcoming Heineken Cup games will have almost as much of an influence on the final tour contingent as the Six Nations tournament. But since I lost my powers of premonition many moons ago, I can only base it on what we have seen so far.

Feel free to comment or draw up your own competing selections.

1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
2. Jerry Flannery (Ireland)
3. Euan Murray (Scotland)
4.Paul O'Connell (Ireland)
5. Donncha O'Callaghan(Ireland)
6. Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
7. Martyn Williams (Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
9. Mike Blair (Scotland)
10. Ronan O'Gara (Ireland)
11. Shane Williams (Wales)
12. Tom Shanklin (Wales)
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
14. Delon Armitage (England)
15. Lee Byrne (Wales)