Friday 24 November 2017

A question many men like to be asked

I am the first to admit that when it comes to tackling the daily challenges that life presents, the good woman is generally five steps ahead of me.

She needs to be, or the young lad and younger lad would more than likely be able to tell you precisely how many baked beans Bachelors put in a standard tin, have haircuts that resemble an early 1990s Michael Bolton and be regularly spotted in their school uniforms, even at weekends.

However, there is a question that the good woman asks me every few years that stimulates my intellect, and makes me feel like my input is highly valued.

It is a complex issue and I know it doesn't matter how many times I explain it to her, she will always end up asking me again.

It popped up last Saturday night during the nine o'clock news on RTE when the sports guy was presenting highlights of the Republic of Ireland versus Italy soccer match. The World Cup-bound southern Europeans had a goal ruled out. She looked at me and asked in a gentle voice, 'What does offside mean?'

Those are the four words that can make many a man puff out his chest, and confidently take control of the conversation.

Forget which washing powder doesn't result in itching, the best dishwasher tablets to make a plate sparkle or nightpants that hold in more water than the Aswan Dam, when it comes to the offside rule, a man presents with the confidence of a professor.

On Saturday night, I used three of my fingers as my teaching apparatus. I named my index finger and middle finger on my right hand John Terry and Shane Long, and the index finger on my left hand, Roy Keane.

She watched, wonderstruck, as I told her how the fingers on my right finger must be level with each other when the finger on my left passed the ball.

If Long (the middle finger on my right) ventured past Terry (the index finger on my right) before Keane (the index finger on my left) kicked the ball, then he was offside. I also told her Long would be ok once he stayed Keane-side of Terry, when the ball was passed. She looked at me and I checked her eyes waiting for a sign that the penny had dropped. She then went quiet for a moment, and a story about Kimye came on the television.

'That's nice,' she muttered in a voice like Mrs Brown, and I registered a break in her concentration. I wasn't sure she had totally understood. 'Never mind,' I thought, 'the World Cup is merely hours away at this stage, and I can show her again.' Only next time I'll bring her into the kitchen and use knives and a fork and a few frozen peas.

A good teacher always has a Plan B.


Like many Irish families we shooed the tarantula-like clingers-on from the barbecue in the shed and roasted a few burgers while we basked in the fleeting sunshine on Saturday evening. Once we were happily stuffed, we filled a bowl with the leftover meat, so that the neighbour's dog could help himself. To his bad luck, he didn't call round that evening. However, we were astonished to see so many birds feast on the meat instead. At one stage the word had obviously spread among the feathered commmunity and the young lad counted up to seven starlings all with their beaks buried in the bowl.

The following morning the good woman was a little perturbed by one or two of the birds throwing themselves at the patio door glass, driven by the craving for more meat, she suggested. We tried them with a bowl of Rice Krispies instead, and they hoovered that down too.

The neighbour's dog will have to scrap it out for the scraps from here on.

Wexford People

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