15th August, 2002

This horror story about the two missing girls, Jessica and Holly, in England, is affecting us all. We have no idea at all what the families of these children are going through. Tuesday night must have been the longest night of their lives. The police are telling them to ‘be prepared for the worst”. We still don’t know how the abductor found the children. Kevin Myers, in the Irish Times, says it’s time to take the internet out of the children’s bedrooms. The man is right. Children, at the end of the day, are entitled to enjoy their childhood, the innocence most of us enjoyed through our childhood days are now under threat from the worse kind of person, the paedephile. Gone are the days of the ‘dirty old man’ in the raincoat, Nowadays they use the snare to trap the children, or drive around looking for children to entice or grab. The very young and the elderly are the most vulnerable in our society, and now more than ever they are under threat from a sub-species that wishes to harm them. We must be vigilant. The walk to the shop now, by a child, for sweets is a risk. Our children and grandchildren are under siege. Mind your children - don’t take chances you’ll regret.
Speaking of children, my friend, Finbarr Archer, called down last week to tell me that the residents of Newton Court, Grange, were holding a young peoples World Cup final on Monday evening at 7.00pm. So up I went, armed with my camera, to take some snaps. The green was filled with residents and supporters, as the finalists, Russia and France, took to the field for the trophy. I, having a Russian son-in-law, was supporting Russia, but France, with a very impressive striker and goalie, took a two goal lead early on, leading by two goals at half time. I had to leave then, as the excitement was too much, but Finbarr called in yesterday with the result. Russia got two goals in the second half to equalise, and it went to a penalty shoot-out, with Russia the eventual winners of the Newton Court World Cup final. As Sergei says, “You’ll never beat the Russians”.

Well done to all the teams, the match officials, and the great sense of community that events such as these help instill. A lot of other estates could learn from Newton Court. Well done to all concerned.

It’s hard to believe that it’s 25 years this week since Elvis died. RTE showed about six hours of Elvis last weekend and I taped most of it to watch later on, which I did! There’s no doubt about it, he was, and still is, the King. Watching it, what struck me about Elvis was his manners, “Yes sir, no sir”, his respect for the elderly, his generosity to his friends, and his love for his parents. Elvis was a ‘nice guy’. Being an only child, his mother adored him, and I believe, when she died, aged 42, a part of Elvis died too. Elvis died at the same age, 42. Even today the music of Elvis has not aged, the voice was pure, the production of his music was excellent, and to all my younger readers, it really was great to be a teenager in the early 60s - a time when children could walk the streets in safety.

My sympathy to the family of Michael O’Brien, who died last week. I got to know Mick through the quiz circuit. He raised a lot of money down through the years, for many charities, as he set questions, was the quiz master - all of which takes a lot of time and energy - and my memory of Mick will be of the big man sitting on the small stage in Nemo Rangers lounge, with the questions in front of him, as we prepared to battle against the best teams in Cork. Thanks for the great nights, Mick, RIP.

Speaking of good work, Sean Doyle, general manager of Tesco Douglas, tells me that their new charity for the year is ‘Down Syndrome Ireland’. Every year they sponsor a different charity, you’ll see the boxes at the checkouts, so don’t forget, put your loose change into a box and make a contribution to this good cause, as my grand-daughter says, “sharing is caring”.

Get well soon to another good friend of mine, Dave McHugh. Down through the years we met and did battle on the quiz circuit. Now, as most of you know, Dave is a top class international rugby referee. Dave made international news last week when a disgruntled fan in South Africa wasn’t too happy with Dave’s decisions on the field. Now you know why I only play snooker, or the odd quiz match - non-contact sport! Anyway, Dave won’t let something like this incident stop him doing what he loves. Hope to see you back on the field soon Dave!

I went down for a bite of lunch yesterday to the Rochestown Inn. My lunch usually consists of a sandwich, and my usual choice to a toasted cheese, ham, onion and tomato - and that’s what I had. Excellent service - I had it brought to my table in about five minutes, and it was one of the best toasted sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. Good staff, good service and good food. What more can you ask for?

My daughter went into a well known restaurant in Douglas on Sunday afternoon, with her infant child - aged about 10 months. She asked for a high chair for the baby, but was told, “We don’t have them”. Come on guys, mothers and babies must eat too, so a little consideration would be much appreciated. We might do a piece on the restaurants in Douglas, which do or do not have facilities for children. Has anybody else experienced problems such as the above?

Finally, enjoy what’s left of August, September is usually good (console yourself). Drive carefully and for God’s sake, Belt Up!

Bye for now,
Michael O’Hanlon.

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