Updated: 02/09/17 : 05:42:59
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'Sharky' could make students sizzle in Sligo

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

ONE MAN in Sligo would surely have loved this week's Blueshirt Bingo. Read on.

The two jackpot words this week were ''mandatory'' and ''compulsory.''

The Mad Hatter, the March Hare and Alice in Wonderland discussed the very same subject at their tea party.

Blueshirt Bingo is played much the same way -- but you pretend FOREVER that ''mandatory'' and ''compulsory'' are not the same word.

There is a list of staunch conservatives who 100% agree: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Whip Regina Doherty and ex Fianna Fáil advisor Noel Whelan to name but three.

Like Chaff

Then Harry Spillane wrote a very pertinent letter to The Irish Independent yesterday, Friday.

''Stop treating us like chaff and do your dictionary homework,'' was the promising headline.

1. Harry's dictionary defined ''compulsory'' as.....''required by law.''

2. The same dictionary defined ''mandatory'' as, wait for it, ''required by law'' OR ''compulsory.''

I'm hereby notifying all Blueshirts that I hold a winning line in their Bingo game, first day of September 2017.

More tearful, though, I'm time-travelling back to an overcrowded classroom in Sligo town, late 1966 mid 1967.

Everything else is more precise and clearcut, too clearcut even half a century later.

By Heart

Every night for homework ''Sharky,'' Bro Einard, read us a list of sixty words (he/we hoped) would be learned off by heart.

Grand National

To be sure, to be sure, we had to close the green hardback dictionary on our desks as the recitation, ri ra and ruaille buaille begun.

That was like those Catholic rites of excommunication in the Middle Ages: Ring the bell, close The Book and blow out the candle.

Round the class ''Sharky'' went; it was like the Grand National, there were guaranteed fallers. Oh the excitement!

In my row of desks he asked one student ''myth'' and, bingo, he got the only word given in the dictionary, namely ''legend.''

Couple of seats further down ''Sharky'' called the next underlined word, which was ''legend.''

The reply came back harder than a Rafael Nadal special serve: ''myth,'' the only word given in the official school dictionary.

Bare Palms

''Sharky's'' spin came back even faster and harder: ''Out,'' he called -- not like those tennis umpires but 'out' for slaps.

Appeals against any alleged miscarriages of justice or such stuff of nonsense were not on the agenda for national schools.

He slapped so hard.....and there were usually so many in the queue for multiple slaps that he could only be caught out by acts, plural, of pure genius. Hmm.

Some of the guys walking towards him in the melee for slaps turned back to their desk, mimics of deep pain as they held bare palms under their oxter, pretend pain. 

It was like a Grand National where all the fallers got up and finished 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. A new angle on Roy of the Rovers. A miracle among the mayhem. 

Only thing is ''Sharky'' also taught us multiplication. Back comfortably in his chair one day he made us all uncomfortable. Again.

By his reckoning, he said -- and there were no appeals, remember -- not all the guy he called 'out' had presented themselves for multiple slaps. 

Crikey, to quote his favourite word. Good at multiplication alright. ''Twas certain he could gauge and cipher too,'' looking at Goldsmith's highest criteria for teachers. 

One Percent

In The Irish Times yesterday Noel Whelan couldn't convince himself that there was too much ''compulsory'' prong in the current Public Service Card.

In support of that argument Whelan pointed to the near three million who've signed up. 

Proof of what exactly? I've signed up. I did not feel I had even one percent of choice. Rest my case. See link below. 

Guess what, I've more understanding half a century on of Sharky's Sixties take on Padraig Pearse's Murder Machine in education than Blueshirt Bingo in 2017.

Link: See Sligo Today 30/8/2017 and 31/8/2017.