Archive for May, 2012

Grills & Boys

Posted in Food & Drink, U Lads on May 29, 2012 by Johnnie

Originally published in U Magazine, June 2008

Can you get the stench of burning flesh in the air? It’s that time of year again. Any day now, invitations to friends’ barbecues will come flooding in.

No one invites you to dinner during this period, no one says they’re having a few nibbles and cocktails in their garden, or in their 4’ X 3’ yard, in summer, you only ever get invites to barbecues.  And because there’s been a week of sunshine, they’ve been out in force early this year.  Apparently, it’s against the law to burn garden rubbish, but boy are you permitted to turn a small corner of your rear end into a funeral pyre for chunks of indeterminable animal offcuts.  I’m sure many of you are now wearing tops that were out on the washing line when one of your neighbours threw one of these acts of wilful fire-raising; smells yummy, your t-shirt, doesn’t it? I bet you were delighted when you first noticed what was happening. First you catch the scent of hot charcoal, then your throat and eyes begin to sting and choke, and finally you see the black plume snaking over the fence, the universally understood smoke signal meaning, “Man. Cooking. Now.” Continue reading

Memoir of a Soho square

Posted in Food & Drink, Pointless Nostalgia, Travel on May 21, 2012 by Johnnie

Lately, I’ve been catching up with a month’s worth of weekend supplements. It’s a nice thing to do, especially when you have very little money. All that culture, most of it out of reach and well out of the range of my rather functionless wallet.

One thing I love above all else is to read reviews of London restaurants. For the life of me, I can’t work out how I ever managed to eat out when I lived there – but it must be something to do with the fact that I had no dependents. But that’s besides the point – the restaurants that get reviewed by Messrs Rayner, Coren, Lanchester and Gill are very rarely of the type I could afford to eat in.

However, when I read AA Gill’s review of the restaurant 10 Greek Street in 6th May’s Sunday Times Style and I found myself becoming slightly emotional, for several reasons – mainly nostalgic ones.

Continue reading

Glory, glory! Red is the colour! Or maybe not.

Posted in Calcio, Strange phenomena, WhingeRantMoan on May 15, 2012 by Johnnie


Just what is it about a red shirt that gets glory seeking fans of non-local teams in such a lather? I ask this as a somewhat bewildered Scots observer of English football from an Irish perspective – if that doesn’t sound like codswallop.

I’ll try to explain what I mean, but perhaps my point was illustrated by the recent, bizarre goings on at Cardiff City. You might recall that Cardiff’s Malaysian owners seriously proposed to change the club’s first team colours from their traditional blue to red, alter their club crest, and change their nickname from The Bluebirds to The Red Dragons. Officially, the reasons given were to “demonstrate the symbolic fusion of Welsh and Asian cultures” – but, more interestingly (or sadly), the move seemed to be more about foreign marketability.

It seems to come down to some kind of psychology. Tradition dictates that Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have been easier to sell overseas than blue counterparts Manchester City, Everton and Chelsea. Here in Ireland, I’ve come to describe this as the “Munsterpool United” mindset. Continue reading

Show Them Who’s Boss

Posted in Fiction on May 14, 2012 by Johnnie

Once upon a not-too-long ago, there lived a little man in an old, old street. For a long time, the street was mainly populated by old, old people and the little man was able to win their friendship and trust by routinely asking them about their health, their daily movements and their daily intentions. He would even ask if they had any little odd jobs he could do for them in their homes, so that he could get to know their houses, and chat away to them until nightfall. He would also volunteer to look after their properties, look after the street, and guard all and sundry in the locality against the slightest breeze from the terrifying Ill Winds of Progress.

The old, old people tolerated the little man; for, although he was a distinctly inquisitive individual, he was a handy person to have around. Surely no robber or burglar would come near the place, when, at the first sign of a strange face, his window blinds would twitch inquisitively, or he’d tramp out into his forecourt to demand to know said stranger’s particulars or intentions. He was, the old people decided, a sort of guardian; the kind of person who could be relied upon to keep the street safe, familiar and stuck in AD 1956.

Continue reading

Saviours of Irish rock? The return of 79Cortinaz

Posted in Music, Pointless Nostalgia on May 8, 2012 by Johnnie

They’re back! Back?! BAACK!! Carlow’s foremost rock ‘n’ roll sons (i.e. band) 79Cortinaz have risen from the grave and seem intent on returning to the studio to entertain us with further adventures in rural indie guitar rock. They released their debut album Hopioki in early 2008, before apparently breaking up in December of that year.

We say “apparently”, as this split was disputed – loyal, patient and/or weary readers of this blog might remember the most bizarre comments thread in IHGN‘s history, when, running against the spirit of positive yearly album round-ups, I gathered together a selection of my Worst Albums of 2008. A member of the band, who firstly mistook me for a female critic (?) denied they had split up and took more than a little umbrage at the album review. As well he might. Hopefully that’s all water under the bridge now.

In the meantime, the band have very kindly gathered together their own back catalogue and put them on Soundcloud so that you may judge for yourselves. Continue reading

Way to go, Delio!

Posted in Calcio, Heroes, Star "Style" on May 3, 2012 by Johnnie

So farewell, Delio Rossi.  After six months at the helm of my beloved Fiorentina, the frustration he, his players and all of us who shout for the Viola share, finally blew into violence when he took several swipes at insubordinate young forward Adem Ljajic in full view of the world. Today, he finds himself fired, by no means for the first time in his career – only this time, with a reputation that he’s as mad as cheese.

As the video shows, Ljajic deserved what he got, sarcastically applauding his gaffer’s decision to substitute him after half an hour, at a time when Fiorentina were 0-2 down to second-bottom club Novara. As it turned out, a 2-2 draw semi-vindicates Rossi’s decision, and the result leaves the Viola a point from Serie A safety with two games remaining – against fellow relegation candidates Lecce and Cagliari. Continue reading