The New School

I couldn’t sleep; I spent the entire night imagining what it was going to be like? This was the day when the boys from the village, who had graduated from primary school, left to go to secondary school in the town. My brother went to the secondary school in town but he had to cycle the 8 miles. I, on the other hand was getting’ The School Bus’. As luck would have it, the Government had introduced free school buses for the entire country that same year.

I remember the day well. I made my sandwiches of bread and corn beef and headed down to the Village Square to await the arrival of the bus. The bus was yellow in colour and the shape of a huge rectangle – this was the time before aerodynamics. When we got in, the driver said ‘Well lads, my name is Mick’. Mick was the best friend a secondary schoolboy could have. The buses were notorious for breaking down. As my academic career evolved, you could always rely on Mick to oblige, if he was told that the first two classes were Latin and you hated the thoughts of it, by breaking down and miraculously starting again to arrive just in time for the third class, at least that’s how it felt to me.

I remember arriving at the school gate and been greeted by a man in a black dress, which of course was a robe worn by a Christian Brother. His first words were, ’Ah, the Borris Boys have arrived, I can smell the smoke’. This was strange to me but in the months ahead, I realised that you couldn’t see the lads at the back of the bus because of the smoke.

It was strange to be in a room with only first year students. I was used to a room with four classes 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.Not alone that, the class was made up of a lot of people from other parishes, as far away as Co. Laois. It turned out that the Borris Boys lived further away from the school than the Errill Boys. That would be Geography.

The day went on and lunch time came. Out came the sandwiches and off down the town. I had been given the price of a cup of tea from my father. The tea for the students could be bought in a place called Maher’s Pub or more affectionately known as ‘Annie’s and Biddy’s. These were the two old ladies that ran the establishment. You sat at the counter in the shop area and the ladies gave you the tea. As part of the process the ladies would inspect the content of your sandwich and compliment you on the ingredients. In later years, I came to realise that there probably was a hint of sarcasm in what they were saying and perhaps corn beef and banana sandwiches were associated with the working class and ham was a cause for greater investigation into the student’s family background. I always envied those with the ham sandwich. I was sad when I heard of Annie and Biddy’s death in later years as they were gentle and caring souls.

The rest of the day went without any fuss except for the English Teacher. He was a fascinating guy, came to teaching the hard way, working to pay his way through college. He had an array of stories to explain the curriculum in an interesting and fascinating fashion due to his life experiences. One of his great lines, when your result in an exam was poor was ‘Hey Mister, I’ve got a shovel with your name on it’. His nickname was ‘Cowboy’ as his accent and demeanour was more like a scene from the Virginian.

The day finished with the return trip home on the bus. The hierarchy of the bus became evident that evening. First Years at the front and the Sixth Years at the back. So when you elevated to smoking Major or Carroll’s you would also be allocated one of the coveted seats at the back.

I would like to say that the fairytale story continued but like most dreamers you have to wake up and smell the roses.

Tom Cullen

The Source Writers Group

Heading To The Match

HEADING TO THE MATCH

I envied them

As they stood on the roadside ditch

Chanting “We are the Champions”

And the AA man repaired the car

On their way to the match, I guessed

Young, free and happy

They had it all

Their song was carried on the air

To shake us out of our hibernation

Announcing to the world that spring had sprung

That life was for living

That we all should be singing

The car repaired

Silence descended

The champions were gone

Their song was silenced not ended

I found myself humming its tune

And wishing that I were young

Teresa Regan ©

That Feckin Euro

That Feckin Euro

 

It was launched with great palaver almost ten years ago. God it felt great to be European, we were no longer the crowd that lived on an island and would be first to fall into the sea and drown if the edge of the Continental Shelf gave way, we now mattered. We were part of the bigger picture.

We never understood the concept of ‘The Global Village’ it wasn’t invented back then. It’s bad when a small farmer living down my lane stops me in his Massey Ferguson to say:” Jesus, Tommy the price of green diesel is going to go mad, I hear the Iranians are going the blockade the Straits of Hormuz”. So Jimmy and me had now elevated our daily chat to economics.

I hated economics in school, in truth so did everyone else, even the teacher. I suppose we never saw the need for it. Thanks to Seanie Fitz and the rest of the Banking Fraternity and of course the lads in Kildare Street, economics is now spoke about in every home in Ireland with more interest than anything else. Who would have thought that George Lee would be ‘must see’ television? RTÉ must have made a fortune on advertising during George Lee’s News Reports.

So what are we going to do now? It appears that it all rests on our shoulders, little Ireland is taking the right cocktail of medicine to bring about our recovery. The truth is the Euro zone needs us to behave in this fashion for their sake and not ours. But it also expects the rest of the EU to do the same. You see we fall between the good guys who have blond hair and the bad boys who are tanned. So the truth is it doesn’t matter how good we are unless the boys from the med are prepared to play ball, it’s that simple.

The amount of money owed to the hedge funds and bond market is so great that failure is not an option- and so you ask a political partnership like to EU to resolve it. Have you ever seen a political party or parties from any country work for the common good?

Make no mistake the euro will fail and this country, having done all the right things according to Europe might as well push itself off the Continental Shelf because we will no longer matter, as we will be of no consequence to anyone.

The almighty dollar and the Sterling will rule again and the next number of generations of Irish better learns how to be a Fire fighter or Policeman because it will be up to the Ex Pats to come to our rescue.
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I really hope that I am wrong but I don’t think so. We are heading for Global Economic Meltdown but the rest of the western world will be able to get up again, we won’t.

Tom Cullen © The Source Writers Group

24/01/2012