Date Published: 09-Apr-2012
Winning the Lottery is a dream that sustains those of us who can see no other easy way out of our economic mess – but when the Beatles told us that money can’t necessarily buy you love, they might have added that it doesn’t actually guarantee happiness either.
And that’s sort of the point of The Syndicate, a new five part drama written by Kay Mellor and currently airing on the BBC. It’s the story of five supermarket workers in Leeds who win £18 million on the Lottery. Naturally – because this is a drama after all – the path to happiness doesn’t run smooth.
The BBC has such faith in this that it is running each episode twice, on successive nights with a primetime 9pm slot on a Tuesday and a late night repeat close to midnight on a Wednesday.
And their faith is fully justified.
Mellor is a past master at this sort of gritty, and yet comic, urban drama – the writer behind Band of Gold, Playing the Field and Fat Friends cut her teeth in Coronation Street and also scripted for Brookside. And for this she returns to her native city of Leeds.
It’s not short of familiar faces either with Timothy Spall, as supermarket boss Bob Davies, Joanna Page (Stacey from Gavin and Stacey), as single mum Leanne Powell, and Matthew McNulty from Shameless as assistant manager Stuart Bradley heading an impressive cast – but the strength of this comes through Mellor’s writing and observations.
All of this begins with a supermarket which is facing closure and is then subjected to a robbery which turns out to be an inside job dreamed up by Bradley, the assistant manager who resorts to unorthodox tactics to raise the deposit for a new flat.
Aided and abetted by his dodgy younger brother Jamie, the robbery goes wrong when Right Buy U boss Bob is assaulted and ends up in hospital. Thus the police have two reasons to track the robbers – and they’re suspicious of Jamie from the start.
If only they’d known that a Lottery win was coming down the tracks, there would have been no need for a robbery at all –but then there wouldn’t be much by way of drama either.
The glue that holds the whole thing together is long-time assistant manager Denise Simpson, a bubbly woman whose attitude is in complete contrast to the reality of her life around her.
Denise is 44 and lives with her domineering, bed-bound mother and her husband Dave in her mother’s terraced house. Her two beloved dogs are her best friends but also substitutes for the children she never had – and the scars of a miscarriage years ago are still raw.
She has more immediate causes for concern, however, when it transpires that Dave has been carrying on with her mother’s male carer and wants out of the marriage – until the Lottery win has him back on the doorstep like a mangy dog.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.