Frank Galligan column: A 'Yock' by any other name!

It Occurs to Me with Frank Galligan

Frank Galligan


Frank Galligan



It Occurs to me

This car actually used to be a red Rover

Believe it or not, the car in the accompanying photograph was pulled over by the police in Cheshire over the Christmas period.

It had no windows or mirrors plus damage and rust to all remaining parts of the bodywork. The blue and yellow wreck used to be a red Rover. The driver was charged “for having no insurance and using a vehicle in a dangerous condition”, and the car was seized.
I was reminded of a now retired Sergeant in the north of the county who was manning a checkpoint one dark miserable night some years ago. Suddenly, and without warning, he realised that something had almost run into him, and to his amazement, he saw what resembled a vehicle in the glare of his torchlight slither to a halt inches from his toes. He grabbed the driver’s door of the unlit vehicle only for it to come away in his hand and fall on the road, quickly followed by a very intoxicated driver. Your man was gabbling incoherently, and when asked by the Sergeant if he had a driving license, answered: “Jeez Sergeant, what do I need a driving license for? Sure I only ever take her out when I’m going for a drink!” Although a veteran of over 30 years experience, the Guard was flabbergasted by the condition of man and vehicle. Having examined the latter thoroughly, he advised the driver that notwithstanding his own drunken condition, and the fact that he had no license, insurance or tax disc, additionally, none of the lights were working, all of the car doors were tied with baling twine, and every tire was bald.
In exasperation, he said to the driver: “In all my years in the job, I have never seen a vehicle in such condition!” to which your man responded: “Jeez...right enough, Sergeant, will she take me home at all?”

T hirty years ago, I came across a wonderful book which chronicled some of the more hilarious court cases in the west of Ireland. Regrettably, I lent it someone and haven’t seen it since but was reminded of some of the yarns over the Christmas while reading of some latter day goings on in our legal system. One of my favourites was from the Leinster Leader a few years ago, when a defendant was facing his third charge of driving without insurance at Naas District Court—having had 14 prior convictions on "road traffic matters."
When his solicitor began describing his qualities as a father to mitigate his circumstances, the judge was having none of it and interrupted. "He is a gobshite," he said, "It's the nicest thing I can say about him." Then he banned him from the roads for six years and fined him €500.
Another more recent District Court case in Ireland saw the judge announce: “6 months imprisonment!” to which the defendant retorted: “Arrah sure I'll do that standing on me head!”
“Fine” says the judge, “Well I'll give you another 6 months to get back on your feet then!”
It may have been the same court where the judge asked: “Have you anything to say for yourself?” to which the defendant laughed and replied “It's me birthday!” The judge responded:
“Happy Birthday, 6 months!”
Anyway, back to the old book, a copy of which I must unearth somewhere in 2018. Many of the stories were of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true, or as my learned friends might say...apocryphal. One of my favourites was of the old farmer in Mayo who had been having a long standing row with a neighbour over a right-of-way and in the course of an argument, assaulted him. At the subsequent court case, the judge looked at him over his spectacles and addressed the poor bewildered defendant about the Section 2 assault,
“Despite the probable provocation, Mr Murphy, this constitutes such an assault and I have no option but to fine you five pounds!” The farmer, who had never been in court before, and was unfamiliar with the legal procedures, suddenly walked towards the bench, took a tenner out of his pocket, handed it to the shocked judge and as he passed the neighbour on the way out, hit him again!
Another man, up on a very serious assault charge landed in a higher court without a solicitor, only to be cautioned by the judge: “Mr Burke, this is a very very serious charge….I would strongly recommend that you seek legal counsel.” “Ah your honour” says your man, “I mightn't have a solicitor, but you’ll be glad to hear I have a few good friends on the jury!” Another example of how legalese can really bamboozle Joe Soap was the case that went something like this:
Counsel: "Would you say you had a vivid recollection of what happened in the Garda station on the night in question?"
Witness: "Oh yes, very vivid."
(Minutes later it becomes apparent to the judge that the witness did not understand the meaning of the word vivid)
Judge: "It is very important Mr. X that if you don't understand a word that you should say so. If you wish, my learned friend can explain the word in question to you, in monosyllabic terms."
Yeah, I’m sure that helped the craythur.
The howler of all howlers allegedly happened in the Dublin District Court some 30 years ago.
A buck at the back of the court was noisily chewing gum and started to annoy the judge who called up the Court Garda and said: "Will you tell that fellow at the back to stop masticating!"
The big Guard marched down to him and hissed: "Will you for f..k sake take your hands out of your pockets!”

Having read all the positive pieces by the critics, I was so looking forward to the latest Star Wars offering, and in particular to seeing Malin Head in all its finery. Cinematography aside, it was a huge disappointment, best summed up by one pundit who wrote: “The Last Jedi was, indeed, a complete surprise. It is without a doubt the worst movie in the entire Star Wars franchise.
Its sins are many: the pacing is really slow and clumsy, the humor feels awkward and forced in spots, and most importantly one of the major subplots goes absolutely nowhere. The worst part of all, though, is it feels like director Rian Johnson didn't like some of the things that J.J. Abrams did with the original movie - so suddenly things are changed retroactively, characters act in manners completely contradictory to the way that they did in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, etc.”
This time around, the critics and the viewing public were very much at odds. However, it will be 2017’s largest grossing movie but...no, as someone who is a huge fan of the whole franchise, I was left cold this time.

Frank Galligan's It Occurs to Me column appears each Thursday in the Donegal Democrat.