A sporting event aimed at bringing the communities in Tyrone closer together was declared a resounding success by organisers this morning.
The Clonoe Cage Cross-Community Fighting Extravaganza drew an impressive turn-out, with over 300 competitors paying £2.50 each to climb into the specially-constructed cage.
“These guys should be proud of themselves”, said 76-year old organiser and former parish priest from Benburb Frank McLean. “They were falling over each other to get into the cage and start fighting away. I’ve never seen enthusiasm like it. I watched these two lads form Cappagh and Moygashel slugging away like their lives depended on it. They didn’t even hear the bell. That’s how committed they are to making this sort of community event work. They just wanted to put on a great show. All the lads were the same. In fact, we had to intervene so many times the taser ran out of charge. After that we just stood back and watched”.
Participant Steve Lewis said,
“Aye it was some night boys. I was in the cage with this wan boyo from the Washing Bay. Some fighter. Even managed to knock me down a couple of times. Credit where credit’s due. That’s why I decided to show him some respect by scissor-kicking him in the face when we were back in the dressing room. And then hoofing him in the groin. Twice.”
McLean confirmed that working in cross-community projects such as this had been one of the highlights of his life.
“It’s moments like these you treasure. Some of the boys even started getting into all that bad-boy tag-team stuff like they used to do on the wrestling on the telly in the 70s, because there was these two boys who showed up wearing balaclavas and holding a couple of fake Armalites, waving them at the crowd and all. Jays, I was helpless with the laughter. I nearly ended myself. And do you know, even the crowd were getting into it, can you imagine? Jeering and chanting and suchlike”.
McLean confirmed that the next cross-community event planned in time for Christmas, ‘Brantry Bare-Knuckle Boxing’, is already generating interest.
A Clonoe man who set up his own business over a year ago is hoping that 2014 is the year he finds success.
33-year old Dylan Carson, from Washingbay Road in Clonoe, set up a wasp-keeping business last April against the advice of family, friends, neighbours, botanists, colleagues and passers-by in the street. The entrepreneur was adamant that the insects would be producing ‘jam by the hive-load’ in a matter of weeks.
“Waspkeeping is the new beekeeping”, said a confident Carson. “Read the papers and they’ll tell you bees is on the way out. They’re the same as the dinosaurs, expect smaller and buzzier. That’s why I got ahead of the game and got some wasps. I don’t think I did it right last year which is why they didn’t lay any jam. But I’m older and wiser this year, and I’m feeding them fresh strawberries and apricots. Not long now boys, not long now”,
he said, eagerly rubbing his hands together.
Carson admitted that the project had had ‘a few minor teething problems’, including an incident when he got stung over 200 times after accidentally sitting on one of the nests, and then finding out he was allergic to wasp stings.
“Aye, that’s one of things you learn as a waspkeeper that you don’t really realise. Wasps can sting a wee bit. Jaysus, that was some month in hospital. My arse was all swolled up like a balloon. Not having a proper waspkeeper’s costume was what did it. I just used an old balaclava and a pair of gardening gloves. Some handlin’ wasps”.
Challenged about the merits of keeping wasps, Carson was forthright in his explanation.
“Wasps? What’s wrong with keeping wasps? There’s stranger things that people are keeping and no-one bats an eyelid, like books, or houses. Or goals. It’s just a matter of understanding the wasps, see?” he said. “A lot of wasps have got anger management problems, but really when you get to know them they’re friendly craters. All that’s needed is a bit of tender loving care. They’re nice wee things”, he said as he slammed a wasp against the window with a rolled up Dungannon Observer. “Apart from that one”.
If successful, Carson plans to offer his services to others by becoming a wasp whisperer. He had a previous business which failed in 2012, when he discovered that moths were unable to produce marmalade.