According to a very reliable informant, the following incredible story is absolutely true! One beautiful, sunny evening last week, the sound of screeching tyres could be heard in an area of South Kilkenny not too far from Waterford city. More than one person went to investigate suspecting that a group of boy and girl racers were using a section of the yet unopened bypass to strut their stuff.

The observers couldn’t believe their eyes because racing up and down the road and engaging in all sort of rubber-burning manoeuvres were no less than eight ‘mature’ ladies. Not to put a tooth in it, all eight women were what used to be called ‘glamorous grannies’. In winter they wear coats from exclusive boutiques, in summer they sport designer T-shirts, jeans and sunglasses (on the top of their heads) and they all drive extremely expensive, top of the range cars. There was also a bit of a picnic underway that was being washed down with, wouldn’t you know, some ‘decent’ bottles of wine.

At one stage the ‘mad wimmin’ were observed racing four abreast along the newly laid road. By all accounts it was a hoot for all concerned and, when spoken to by one of the observers during a ‘pit stop’, one of the ladies happily confided that they were having a great time doing something different without harming or bothering anybody. Apparently, some loud music, earthy laughter and irreverent cackling was also involved.

God, if they were that fired up, I’d say it was heaven help their poor old husbands and partners when they arrived home if they were looking for more ‘fun and excitement’. These mad, glamorous grannies would appear to me to be a ‘Wild Bunch’ not to be meddled with so I hope they don’t come after me for writing about them. What can I say except to declare in the time-honoured Waterford vernacular: “Go on, you good things!”

Hard times are back

Elsewhere in this issue is a serious news report revealing how hard times and hunger has once again reared its ugly head in our city and county. Mind you, there is always poverty in our midst but the present downturn in the economy coupled with rising prices has really hit a growing number of families.

The Waterford based Regional Administrator of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society said an increased number families had fallen on hard times. Mr. David O’Neill said price-hikes in food and fuel, coupled with higher mortgage payments, had pulled a large number of families into the poverty trap. He revealed that calls to the Society for help last November and December had doubled compared to the previous Christmas. The first four months of this year had also seen an increase in appeals for assistance, a situation that was being mirrored in other parts of the country.

Now compare Mr. O’Neill’s words with the nonsense that surrounds First Holy Communion and Confirmation celebrations. Milestones that should be happy and fulfilling times for children and parents alike are being turned into financial nightmares because of the vulgar commercialisation that often surrounds such occasions. Apparently, the costs of some First Communions and Confirmations now equal those of small weddings and it is not uncommon for many of the children to receive thousands of euro in gifts!

Appealing for an end to such ‘madness’, the well known Fine Gael TD, Paul Connaughton, went on the record last week to say he was personally aware of families spending as much as €10,000 on Communions and Confirmations.

Del Boy’s and Rodney’s Robin Reliant

‘Only Fools and Horses’ is still one of the most popular comedies on television even though most of us have seen all the episodes many times. Now a group of fans in Moate, County Westmeath have turned their fondness for the show into a ‘nice little earner’.

Del Boy and Rodney Trotter haven’t moved to Ireland but their famous, three-wheeled Robin Reliant van has. Moate businessman Harry Horan and two of his pals spent a year searching for the original 1971 Robin Reliant that was used in the television series and they eventually tracked it down to a motor dealer in Southampton. Mr. Horan hasn’t revealed how much they paid for the van but it drives perfectly and its registration papers have been authenticated by the BBC as the Real McCoy. The van had to be re-registered in this country in order to put it on the road but the lads still own the original British plates which are valued at about €2,500.

The van still has its ‘Trotter’s Independent Trading Company’ logo on its side and it is now being hired out for weddings and other special events. Harry said the van was attracting great interest and, last week, it delivered its first groom to his wedding in Galway.

Piper in piping hot water

And, on the subject of celebrities, it seems the Grammy-award winning uileann piper, Davy Spillane, may have landed himself in hot water, literally, with Clare County Council.

It turns out that Davy may have fallen foul of the Council’s tough planning laws over his outdoor hot-tub at his home in Doolin. The musician has been issued with a written warning which states that the Council has been informed that an unauthorized development has been carried out that includes a deck area, hot-tub and showers. It is open to the famous musician to lodge an application for retention or to argue that planning permission was not required in the first place. Either way, he has until the 24th. of this month to respond to the local authority.

Local people say Davy Spillane plays an active and positive part in the local community and is a member of the local coastguard unit. Interestingly, he recently appealed to An Bord Pleanala a decision by Clare County Council to grant planning permission to a local farmer for agriculture-related infrastructure on land that is adjacent to his property.

Another threat to the US

President Bush was in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday last, preparing to leave for a weekend on his Texas Ranch, when his secretary told him that senior members of the powerful Defence Committee needed to speak to him on an urgent matter.

When the grim faced generals were ushered in, they lost no time in outlining their mission. “Mr. President”, began the spokesman, “we have reason to believe that this country is under threat from an unknown enemy on the moon and we believe you should order a strike immediately.”

“You need to give me a good reason before I can order a bombing mission against the moon”, said the President, obviously concerned at what he was hearing. “Mr. President”, replied the general, “we can give you ten good reasons why we should attack without delay:

“1. The moon occasionally blocks the sun, alarming the citizenry and curtailing our solar energy supply. This is clearly a threat to our national security. 2. Despite all our best efforts, including several direct visits, it has never responded to any attempts at communication. Silence is ominous. 3. There is nothing visible on the surface, so there must be something hidden underground. 4. There is no good reason to believe that the Moon doesn’t have large reserves of oil. 5. The Moon is always in an ideal position to launch a devastating missile strike anywhere on planet Earth. 6. It is not a member of the U.N. nor has it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 7. It is largely responsible for our tides. This cannot be a coincidence. 8. It is almost certainly not a Christian moon. 9. It’s a great place to harbour terrorists as it is remote, forbidding and has lots of craters to hide in. 10. Our trade deficit with the Moon is exactly zero.”

The President’s face was as white as a sheet when the general had finished speaking. “Men, thank you for being so vigilant and for bringing this important matter to my attention. Cancel all leave, we attack on Monday.”