Friday, March 27, 2009

Where Were You When Ireland Won the Grand Slam?

I've been following Irish rugby since Tommy Kiernan played scrum half for UCC, since Jack Kyle and Paddy Berkery played for the Rest of Ireland against the Combined Universities in Musgrave Park, since Vincie Giltenan propped for Dolphin, since A.C. Pedlow couldn't get off the Irish team no matter how badly he played, nor could his lantern-jawed Ulster colleague Noel Henderson, since Mick English missed a crucial drop goal against England in Lansdowne Road. But where was I when Ireland won the Grand Slam, grasped the Holy Grail, saw the ascension into Heaven of the greatest Irish team in history (O'Driscoll, O'Connell, O'Gara, David Wallace et al)? I'll tell you where I was, I was lying beside the roof-top swimming pool of the Parque Central Hotel in Havana surrounded by Air France flight attendants - sipping a mojito. In the pool, riff-raff from Virgin Airlines cavorted, the Air France girls smoked elegantly and gave each other massages. All benignly indifferent to what was happening far away in Wales. I was in text message contact with a friend in Dublin who kept me engaged with the unfolding drama. I suffered along with the nation - except more exquisitely, as the pauses between the significant events were more laden.