Winning and Losing

My mother had a thing about being strong enough to be a good loser. When I lost the biggest tennis match of my early years, she said that she was incredibly proud that I ran to the net with a smile on my face to congratulate my opponent and that to her that was winning in the bigger scheme of things. I only forced that smile because I had been brought up on this philosopy and knew that she would be absolutely gutted if I ran off the court bawling crying and breaking my racket, just like I felt like doing.

This whole issue has stayed with me over the years and I am still a bit mixed up about what constitutes winning and losing. It has come to the fore again with the US Election and what seems like Donald Trump being a poor loser, in Mother’s scheme of things. Maybe he has some elements of right on his side and feels/is justified in believing that the game isn’t over. Or maybe, he’s a bad loser and is breaking rackets like a man possessed.

It’s said that no one ever remembers who came second but a big question lies in the lengths people are prepared to go to win. If someone wins fairly, then I think they and everyone else should be able to see and accept that. However, winning may not always be as clearcut as that especially when we enter the realm of loopholes, mind games and favoritism. If you win because you’ve used some underhand method, like canvassing for a job, have you really won or have you just sold your soul?

I spent years driving passed a big poster thing in Waterford City that had those lines about ‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul.’ They would stay in my head for amost the 100 miles to Dublin and they are still in it.

My latest thoughts on all this have brought me to unlikely combinations in people’s lives. The most striking example is that of England and Manchester United soccer star, Marcus Rashford, who is engaged in hard-nosed elite sport on the one hand, yet has shown an incredibly socially conscious side in advocating for free meals for disadvantaged kids, like he once was.

Is it a matter of some people being able to flick switches between different aspects of their lives and being able to see how winning and losing are not as clearcut as we are often led to believe.

Beneath it All

Ever since my tennis days when I’d be waiting with my opponent to go out and do battle, I’ve been acutely aware of the way those on opposing sides often have the most in common.

So it is today for Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They are the only two people who know how it feels to be facing Presidential Election Day 2020 as candidates.

What are their thoughts, real thoughts, as they face the day and days to come?

Surely, they will have moments alone with their gut feelings. Will they even be able to or want to connect with those or is it better to keep running along the rim of the world on adrenaline.

You’d like to think they would say a private ‘Good luck and may the best man win, ‘ to each other but I doubt that will happen.

It’s all too easy to forget that we are dealing with essentially fragile human beings here. Nobody is superhuman and nobody is perfect. Everyone is vulnerable and fragile in their own ways.

A big day and let’s hope it is one that is underpinned with dignity, respect and connection.

Trump v Biden – Debate 1

It was 2am our time in Ireland and I woke with a jolt as if there was an alarm clock going off.

The Trump v Biden debate was just starting and all these miles away I listened to the whole thing on BBC radio. So it was a bit of a triangle Ireland, UK and US.

It certainly kept me awake but then I am a political animal. Not seeing them, just hearing their points and interjections was an interesting way to do it but maybe the body language would have told me a lot more.

There was no commentary like you’d get with a boxing match on radio so I had no idea if blows were hitting home or one or other was clinging on to the ropes for a breather.

What struck me most was Biden’s slow delivery compared to Trump’s faster speech.

Also, in the dead of night miles away, I couldn’t but wonder about the fact that these are two men who in other spheres would be written off as old and vulnerable and candidates for cocooning.

Sleep resumed as soon as the debate ended.



Donald, Pope Francis and Me

Things went a bit quiet on the Donald-front here in Ireland after all the hullabaloo over the lewd tape and the final debate. It seemed that it was game, set, and match to Hillary and that Donald had gone off in a sulk. But yesterday, it seemed that maybe the silence was akin to that you associate with a toddler who is up to mischief. We suddenly started hearing about Florida and the gap closing and that maybe he’s bouncing back with a chance.  All I could think was how appealing the Moon or, better still Mars, suddenly appeared, even if it meant being all cooped up, floating around and living on what I assume would be lots of pop-a-pill and sips of stale water.

I was over at the John F. Kennedy  Arboretum in Co. Wexford recently to see the Autumn tints. The trees were magnificent and I couldn’t but think of how JFK was, rightly or wrongly revered in Ireland. (I somehow don’t think Donald would ever get to the ‘r’ of ‘revered.’)

Meanwhile, Pope Francis’ latest ‘edict,’ or whatever you call it, on cremated ashes has really upset me in a roundabout way. I’m not into religion, as you know, but the Pope’s new ruling that cremated ashes must be kept intact in a consecrated place has led to a lot of discussion in Ireland about cremation itself. The tone of the radio discussions that I happened to hear were horrible and cremation was made to seem like a cheapy, impersonal, rushed process. Many of my loved ones have been cremated and I have to say that I have never, ever felt any sense of the kind of stuff I was hearing yesterday.

Pope Francis can say what he likes about cremated ashes, but I certainly hope that mine will be scattered in some wild place by the sea, as I have requested.

The thing about all this is that we’ve got to realise that our time on earth, no matter who we are ~ you, me, The Pope, The President of The United States ~  is very finite and basically like a heartbeat. But how we use that heartbeat does matter ~ as we are not islands and other people will be coming along after us.

Hillary, Donald and the Simple Things

I spent half the afternoon watching last night’s US Presidential Election Debate on You Tube. I’m a political animal and would have stayed up half the night but had been up almost all night the night before so sleep won.

It  was very strange to be sitting in my kitchen here in the South-East of Ireland, watching Hillary and Donald do battle. I had made a point of not listening to any analysis of the debate until I had seen it for myself.

It was intriguing viewing and I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about the human beings that lay behind all the talk. Nor, could I stop myself from wondering if anyone in America would have the remotest interest in watching a Presidential type debate (or a Prime Ministerial one) from Ireland. I can’t imagine how that would come across to an American audience!

Yes, the human stuff!  How nervous were they?  To what extent did they feel an ironic sense of being in the same boat. After all, even though they are on absolute opposing sides in political terms, they had a lot in common last night as they ‘shared’ that stage being watched by millions and millions of people from all over the world.  In overall terms, I felt that had I been unaware of the background to this debate and just arrived from Mars, I would have thought they were both pretty articulate, civilised human beings. (I never, ever thought I would be writing such a thing!).

The debate certainly dealt with BIG ISSUES ~ world matters; stuff that marks a moment in global history.

It stood in stark contrast to a chance meeting I had this morning with a man who comes to stay in Tramore for the summer months each year. We stopped to have our usual chat and I was sorry to hear that he’s packing up to go back up country this weekend. He’s a fine cut of a guy; well into his seventies and looked a million dollars in a pair of shorts, bare tanned top, and a his wide brimmed sun hat.

He’s known hardships in his life but is always on for a laugh, as well as down-to-earth honesty. After our ‘hellos’ he pointed out to the dancing sea and then up to the beaming sun and just said: It’s the simple things …’ 

I’ve been thinking about his words in the context of all the hullabaloo about the US Presidential debate and, what I’ve found very odd, is that I haven’t been able to identify anything that I feel I could call ‘simple.’

I was looking through a heap of photographs to find an image of ‘simplicity’ and this is the one that keeps pressing forward but I hesitate to agree with it!

‘Solitude’ up the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford






More Things That Baffle Me

I  wrote a while ago about things that baffle me and here’s a few more I feel I need to add to my list:

#1. How could any non-medic even consider watching a live streaming of an operation on someone’s insides?  (I heard a radio interview yesterday about the fact that we will soon have the opportunity to do this!)

#2. How is it possible that Donald Trump has gained such momentum since I last wrote?


#3. How can anybody be a litter lout rather than bringing their rubbish home?

#4. How is it that we can’t seem to get the message about the craziness of eating too much and not exercising enough?

#5. How is it that a relatively rich country like Ireland can’t sort out the horrific problem of homelessness that is getting worse by the day?

#6. How is it that poetry isn’t anything like as popular as music?

If YOU can help me to understand any of these matters, I’d be delighted to hear from you. 




From Donald Trump to Grace O’Sullivan

Election fever is running high in both America and Ireland at present and it’s impossible not to be struck by the extraordinary contrast between Donald Trump who is hogging the limelight here with his outlandish comments and Grace O’Sullivan who is guaranteed my No. 1 Vote in the Irish General Election this Friday.

Grace O'Sullivan Poster on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford.
Grace O’Sullivan Poster on the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford.

Grace O’Sullivan, who is standing for the Green Party, is a soft-spoken woman with deep, deep concern for vulnerable people in our society and for the natural environment of this precious world of ours.

She has courage, and I mean real courage, as well as clear vision and a wealth of honesty, sincerity and life experience.

Grace shares my absolute love of our native Tramore and is a person whom feel l intensely privileged to have  known for many years.

Tramore, Co. Waterford, Ireland, Europe and the World will be given a very significant helping hand if Grace O’Sullivan’s voice is heard from our Irish Parliament.

Ireland’s General Election may not be hogging World News this week like Donald Trump, but I know that when I cast my vote for Grace O’Sullivan on Friday that I am voting for a candidate whose heart is in the right place and who will dedicate herself to building bridges to a better future for those who need it most.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump and Me

Sunset over Tramore Bay
Sunset over Tramore Bay

I arrived home after watching the sunset to hear about the argy-bargy between Pope Francis and Donald Trump.

The odd thing is I never thought that either of these men would take up any of my thinking time but they have and they are.

For my non-Irish readers, I should probably draw your attention to the fact that Donald Trump has a toe in Ireland as he bought an Irish golf course and hotel in Co. Clare before he declared his candidacy for the Presidential Election. He got a great welcome here by our Government with red carpets, dancing girls … and now this is part of the dirt that is being flung around in OUR General Election Campaign which is really heating up and due to take place on February 26th.

Pope Francis’ attack on Donald Trump hit me between the two eyes as he drew heavily on the importance of building bridges not walls. And, as you know, I’m all about building bridges! I think this is the first time I’ve cheered a Pope in about fifty years.

I’m beginning to wonder where this is all going to end. Maybe, I’m going to turn into one of those Irish people who gives God credit for sunshine saying: Lovely day, thank God, ” to everyone I meet. (Normally this drives me bananas as no one ever says: “Rotten day, blast God,”  or even ” Terrible day, damn the Divil.” )

Anyway, it’s been a smashing day here in Tramore and I’ve felt totally and utterly spoiled.

The Glory of Nature.
The Glory of Nature.


Things I Grapple to Understand

The longer I live the more things arise that I simply can’t get my head around and what I find interesting is that these are an integral part of the thinking/practice of people that I could well be chatting to here on Social Bridge or in a cafe somewhere in Ireland.

2015-10-07 13.29.11
Bridging Thought-Processes

So, here’s a few items for starters and I’d be delighted with help in developing an understanding of what can seem like parallel universes to me:

  • What is Donald Trump’s appeal (apart from his $$$$)?
  • How is it possible to believe in God and Heaven and Hell?
  • What it about abortion that gets Irish people so agitated ahead of say homelessness, inadequate provision for many people with disabilities and older people who are frail …?
  • Why do we let people suffer pain that we wouldn’t dream of putting our companion animals through?
  • How can you give a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer to such a generalised question on a job application as: “Are you comfortable around dogs?” (Think tiny puppy to vicious guard dog).
  • How can people have headphones on while going for a walk on a beach?

I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but I want to find ways of understanding.

What do you grapple to understand or have you resolved everything or simply stopped trying to get your head around what can seem like impossible questions?