The Irish Health Service has been in a state of crisis for as long as anyone can remember, reaching well back into the days when the country had plenty of funds to sort it out. The country’s political setup, much like party politics everywhere, is such that most of the energy is put into obtaining and retaining power. Despite plenty of posturing and wringing of hands the established institutions rumble on with great rewards and bonuses for those at the top whilst the footsoldiers battle on as best they can amidst the mayhem. Only if they implode entirely, like the banks, is there a chance of change.

Speaking to a friend in Cork last night I commented that, without health insurance, in Ireland I’d end up on a trolley in a hospital corridor. ‘You’d be the lucky one’ she said. Now apparently they’ve run out of trolleys and patients are living on the staircases in the Mater Hospital, Dublin. Promotion to a trolley is the height of ambition. Oh, and if you want to be sick whilst you’re there then you better bring your own bowl.

Anyway, have you perfected the Sprinkler Dance yet? It’s a strange, warm feeling to be basking in the Ready-Brek glow of an Ashes victory, in Australia. And not just a victory but a comprehensive stuffing.

(Years ago on a beautiful sunny afternoon at the FB Fields I was standing in the covers with team mate John Gleave as yet another shot bisected us and the ball disappeared in the direction of Plat Douet Road. After a token chase we returned to our positions and looked at each other to consider the matter. ‘It’s a lovely day’ we concluded ‘to get stuffed at cricket.’)

So yes, the Aussies took one hell of a beating and no one’s feeling sorry for them. Such is their plight at the moment that they made a competent England team look like world beaters. All sorts of batting records were surpassed and the Aussies spent many days in the hot sun watching their elite bowlers chuck pies at Cook & Co. It was so one-sided that my main curiosity was in listening to the Barmy Army which seemed to grow in strength as the tour went on. Astonishingly this lot now seem to be accepted as part of the international game. They’ve acquired some sort of respectability, even with the England team and with the BBC. Rather than being looked upon as a football-type rabble they are now apparently ‘England’s 12th man.’

I don’t know, I have my doubts. In my day Test cricket was played in a hushed atmosphere. You were allowed to talk or clap once the ball had been bowled but were shushed again as the bowler reached the end of his run up. That started to change with the great West Indian sides and their noisy, colourful support. But it’s now degenerated so that drinking beer, blowing trumpets and bawling ‘amusing’ songs is considered respectable.

Each to their own, but the first run-through of The Mitchell Johnson Song is mildly funny. We All Shagged Matilda would be quite good if there were verses and not just the chorus. But on the whole I think I’ll listen to cricket on the radio where at least most of the din is filtered out. Am I getting old?

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