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Cogley memoirs bring back taste of fried ice-cream

Those of us who work in the 'toy department' are often envied as we jauntily traverse the world at our newspaper's expense, chronicling the derring-do of our sporting gladiators. Cheerfully, merrily, festively girding the globe.

Nirvana, you might think. But, in truth, there are often vicissitudes, changes of fortune, life's ups and downs. Imagine being in a restaurant in Tokyo and being offered fried ice-cream. That, I can tell you put a slight halt -- a full-stop and a comma -- to our reporting zeal.

That incident occurred on the 1985 Irish rugby tour of Japan and is recounted engagingly by Fred Cogley in his highly entertaining memoir, 'Voices From My Past.'

That was the rugby tour with Mick Doyle as coach and it was reported that when the famously rapid bullet train left Tokyo, and Doyler uttered an expletive, we were in Sendai before the '***k' had been completed.

Not that fried ice-cream -- and it was very nice -- was the only variation we experienced in our encounters with Michelin fare.

Once, in Portugal, the waiter enquired if I'd like some fried soup. Intrigued, I said yes, and on came froid (cold) soup.

So, you see, it's not all beer and skittles for a sports columnist or a distinguished broadcaster.

Fred began in the Evening Herald and then went out to RTE as head of sport and spent 30 years there, interspersed with the odd sojourn on the golf course.

And in that regard he once qualified to play at Augusta, where he won a draw among the media, his name coming out of a hat.

He managed a stableford score of 32, playing with two Norwegians and Naas Botha, the famous South African out-half, the player who dropped three goals against Ireland in Durban in 1980.

Back in 1978, Fred faced a major problem with certain Irish laws. Political and religious slogans were not allowed and it was highly illegal to advertise condoms.

How RTE Sport managed to cope with the appearance of Jean Condom, who five times played rugby for France against Ireland, I've forgotten.

But in the Monaco Grand Prix telecast, the practice rounds clearly showed, as the cars hurtled around the famous circuit, that one of the favourites, sure to figure prominently on the TV screen, was a car carrying the advertising logo for Durex. So, what to do? Cancel a couple of hours and substitute 'Wanderly Wagon' or something?

But talk about the luck of the Irish and the ill-luck of Durex... the engine of the erring car blew up and all our souls were saved.

And from the sublime and sacro-sanct to the ridiculous, Rangers FC.

The hour-long BBC special programme on Wednesday evening was full of devastating revelations about the financial affairs of the club which saw them run up astonishing levels of debt.

But, as someone said, never run into debt if you can find something else to run into.

Irish Independent