A Moygashel woman is preparing for the biggest challenge of her life as she frantically looks for increasingly inventive ways to avoid family arguments breaking out on Christmas Day.
“I offered everyone round on Christmas Day in about August and then forgot all about it”, bemoaned 34-year old Rachel McNally from Moygashel. “Jaysus, what was I thinking? It’ll be like managing the G8. My da’s not talking to my brother Frankie since he sold that field that never belonged to him, my other brother Paul lost the family car on a game of 25’s which his wife Paula’s still not forgiven him for, and my mum’s not talking to my da since he went and hired that 19 year old Latvian girl to help dung out the shed. One word from anybody and it’ll be like a feckin dynamite. I’ll be lucky to get through the day alive”.
McNally has previously resorted to a variety of methods to ensure arguments don’t spoil the day.
“The last few years I’ve opted for themed Christmas Days which have worked quite well. 2012 was the ‘Monastic-Themed Christmas’ when everyone had to dress as a monk and took a vow of silence for the day. It went surprisingly okay, other than the v-signs that Frankie kept making to his ex. And the rabbit punch he got from my da on the side of his head when he was half-way through his turkey. Still, he never made a sound. Fair play to him”.
“2011 was fine as well, which was ‘Games-Themed Christmas Day”. We had a 3-hour game of charades and a 2-hour game of Pictionary, and then for the Queen’s Speech we came together and shouted abuse at the TV”.
Rachel’s plan for 2013 is an ‘Alcohol-Themed Christmas’.
“To be honest I’ve run out of ideas, so I’m going to get everyone as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible”, said McNally. “I’ve already loaded up the cake with nearly a pint of sherry, and we’re going to have tequila shots all the way through dinner. If I can get everyone completely hammered then the sooner everyone passes out, the better. Not sure how Granny Gormley’ll cope. She’s 96 and took the pledge 70 years ago. Still, it’s worth a go”, she said hopefully.
In 2010 McNally opted for a disco-themed Christmas Day with flashing lights and a smoke machine, which ended abruptly after she forgot that her sister was an epileptic and brother-in-law Dennis was a chronic asthma sufferer.
“To be honest we made a hames of it” said an embarrassed source in the Council’s procurement team. “The budget gets allocated every April for stationery and stuff, but we got so excited about ordering some iPads that we forgot to put the order in for pens. It’s too late now. All the money’s spent”.
Councillor Enda McMann confirmed that all Council staff will have to go for the next ten months without pens.
“Staff have volunteered to bring in their own pens from home but obviously we can’t allow that under the Data Protection Act. We can’t have non-Council pens used for writing down sensitive information. That would be dangerous. And illegal. Probably”.
Staff are now trying to use other items at their disposal, including the dregs of paint from the make-over given to Council offices in May ‘in case Obama popped in after the G8’. The most popular alternative has been using crayons left over by councillors at their frequent brain-storming sessions.
McMann said, “Official minutes from council meetings will no longer be recorded although to be honest we usually forgot to take notes anyway. And how are we supposed to fill out expenses forms if we have nothing to write with? It’s a logistical nightmare”.
The Council agreed last night at a crisis meeting to issue a tender to outsource the supply of pens by appointing a sub-contractor, a move likely to cost the taxpayer in the region of £3 million. “In a strange way it probably makes sense” admitted McMann, “because we can use them to get paper for the printing machines. We forgot to order that too”. The tender process will take approximately 12 months.
The PSNI were forced to respond yesterday to allegations that the extra police drafted in to the county for the G8 summit in Enniskillen have been so bored that they have resorted to playing children’s games and making preposterous allegations against residents.
The claims come following the arrest of Joe McElduff of Cappagh, who was lifted on Sunday evening on a charge of attempted arson whilst trying to light a barbeque in his garden in the rain. A number of what the police called ‘strange-smelling items’ were also removed from his property that subsequently turned out to be some burgers he had bought from Aldi in Dungannon. He was later released without charge.
On Monday, twenty-nine cattle were detained in a field near Benburb for four hours by over 200 officers in a controversial practice known as ‘kettling’, on the grounds that they were ‘acting suspiciously’ and ‘loitering with intent’, whilst a woman having lunch in Askin’s in Ballygawley was cautioned for ‘eating without due care and attention’ after she dribbled some mayonnaise down her chin.
Other people have claimed that a county-wide game of policeman hide and seek is underway, which is why officers are spending so much time parked on top of bridges and key access points across the county, as they try to spot colleagues who are in hiding in ditches, barns and fields.
DI Sean Robertson of the PSNI refuted the claims, saying,
“The PSNI and our mutual colleagues from across the water offer the highest standards of professionalism, a level that is demanded to protect some of the world’s leaders”.
The G8 is being policed by 4,400 PSNI officers together with some 3,600 who have been drafted in from England.
“These ridiculous claims that there’s some sort of childish game going on is a complete fabrication”,
whispered Robertson, from half-way up a tree in a field near Clogher.
Meanwhile 76-year old farmer Finbar Kerr from Plumbridge was stopped for allegedly speeding at over 80 miles per hour in a 1976 Massy Ferguson tractor and link box, whilst going from one field to another.
“80 miles an hour?” said a peeved Kerr. “That thing wouldn’t do 80 miles an hour if you pushed it off a cliff. Them police have nothing to do all day but sit. I have 3,000 litres of dirty diesel sitting out the back in a tank and they never so much much as looked at it. Call themselves policemen?”
“We’re here to do an important job”, said DI Joseph Bruce of the Yorkshire Constabulary. “There are dangerous criminals about and it’s our job to catch them. Which, if they’re as good as hiding as the PSNI, may take some time”.
An impromptu stop-off by the American cavalcade on the M1 resulted in a humiliating mix-up for the townland of Derrytresk, stirring memories of a previous misdemeanour. President Obama had intimated to his driver that he was ‘dying with the thirst’ after the Loughgall turn-off and soon found himself heading to the Derrytresk clubrooms for a cup of tea and hopefully a biscuit. On exiting the vehicle, he was immediately clobbered by a woman wielding a handbag in a case of mistaken identity.
“Some handlin,” admitted local animal whisperer Lisa McGarrell. “I can’t believe this has happened again. Just when Derrytresk had gotten back to normality after the handbag incident last year against Dromid, we’re right back in the spotlight. The worst thing is, it is a different woman to the first. They’re not even related. I appeal to the media on behalf of the people here – stay away. Yiz’ll be clodded if you come near here sniffing about.”
American aides confirmed that, although shook up, Barack took the hit well and completely understands the mix-up. Security man Hank Harrelson told us:
“Listen, crap happens. Barack has a bit of a Kerry look off him and I’ve seen pictures of Declan O’Sullivan. They’re the spit of each other. The president will not hold a grudge but he did say something about not shedding a tear if they were relegated this year.”
A ray of light was taken from the incident after Michelle Obama took a shine to the weapon and put in an order for three of the same handbags to be shipped to the “White House” before the weekend. The unnamed assailant told us:
“Yea, she was deadly interested in the bag. I told her my da made it from the skins of eel, mink and a few other things he killed. She said it was ‘cool’ and wanted a few. I toul her £300 each and she said no bother”.
The majority of residents throughout Tyrone continue to strenuously deny that they are struggling to contain their excitement about Monday’s arrival of the US President to Northern Ireland, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Following news last week that woman are piling on the slap, subtle signs continued to manifest themselves over the weekend that people are getting all giddy.
Asda in Omagh confirmed that they have seen an increase in housewives purchasing garibaldis and luxury toilet tissue in case the President is caught short whilst driving about the County, whilst its menfolk have been seen tidying gardens, watching ‘The West Wing’, and taking basketball lessons.
“Eh? I’ve been a basketballist for years”, said a guilty-looking Sean McMann, a bouncy castle tester from Drumquin, “with the rings and high jumps and what have ye. So Obama plays the game, does he? Jaysus, I never knew. Tara coincidence that”.
Other retail outlets saw increases in the sale of fast food, baseball caps, and waterboarding equipment, whilst an opportunistic bed and breakfast in Castlederg has somewhat hopefully re-named one its rooms, ‘Presidential Suite’ after they hung up a picture of Nancy Reagan in it.
However, the apparent nonchalant approach has been contradicted by a recently formed on-line campaign called ‘Tyrone ♥ G8, So We Do’ which has amassed a remarkable 120,000 followers, despite a survey last week showing that 92% of residents have no idea what the G8 is, what it means, what it represents, or how to spell it. One man from Strabane, said,
“G8? To be honest, I’m not into all these young bands. Hum one their songs and maybe I’ll pick it up. Tara timing for a big concert seeing as Obama’s coming over at the same time. Or so I’ve been told. Not that I’m bothered. Right? ”
Meanwhile, Aiden Gormley, a 58-year old confetti salesman from Aughnacloy, has been charged with damage to public property by drawing an enormous ‘H’ on the middle of Ballygawley roundabout, hoping that Obama will land his helicopter on it. Released on bail, a defensive Gormley said,
“What, that? Oh, that’s just a big ‘H’ for ‘hello’. You know, for the tourists and that. Just being friendly. Nothing else. What are you trying to say? I didn’t even know Obama was coming to Ireland. And would he be coming by helicopter by any chance? Do you know what time? I don’t care. But others might”.
The county’s tanning salons and hairdressers have reported a 300% rise in bookings in the last month, finally confirming that Tyrone women are going that extra mile to look a bit better in case the American president sees them on a random spin around the roads. Excitement amongst Red Hand women has reached fever pitch with many husbands and boyfriends complaining about their partners being ‘a right bit distracted’ over the last few weeks with the arrival of President Obama imminent for the G8 summit in Fermanagh. Mary’s Salon in The Rock explained the extent of the grooming:
“It’s been deadly. I’d say about three-quarters of the Rock’s women have their hair set already. Even women who should know better, grannies and the like, have been getting blue rinses since Easter almost on a weekly basis. Women from as far as Moortown were coming here to get their eyebrows mowed or for Turkish shaves. I’m completely out of Pond’s anti-wrinkle cream. The Fitzgerald family from Derrytresk bought the whole box. You’d think Robert Redford had landed in the county. Deadly stuff altogether.”
Mary’s have reported a rise in toenail cutting appointments from Eglish and hairy chin removals in Lissan with a noticeable rise in Tattyreagh women looking ‘them there push-up bras’. Omagh women have been the highest users of the leg-shaving services, preferring the cut-throat blade after years of neglect. Not all reports have been of a positive nature with stories of sabotage leaking through to us on a regular basis. Fr Kelly from Donaghmore says it could cut up rough yet:
“I see the way the wemen are looking at each other during mass, especially at those wearing new frocks. I saw it coming but last week a woman tripped her cousin going up for communion, ruining her sexy trendy banded casual above the knee mini dress, not that I would know about those things. I caught two of the sacristans pulling the hair out of each other during Stations of the Cross. I’ve a bad feeling about how this will end up.”
Neglected Tyrone Husbands have started up a website to cater for men who feel a bit hacked off about the whole thing. They can share stories and have a good old communal cry.
A recently tarmaced road in Carrickmore has divided opinion in and around the village with one man calling it ‘the last straw’ for him and his family before heading off towards Kildress. The famous concrete road finally received a makeover last month after fears they’d look bad if Obama popped into the store to buy a lock of hurleys to bring home after the G8 summit in Fermanagh. Funded by the European Union, Carrickmore has received £300 to slap on some paint and tarmac the concrete road in a whole infrastructure upgrade to impress the Yanks if they did happened to pass through. Greg McNally (66) was not overly impressed:
“Typical middle-class outlook here these days. They didn’t want Obama thinking we were poor so they threw a coat of emulsion over The Corner and The Credit Union. I can take that I suppose. But now they’ve tarmaced the concrete road. This the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. You only have to walk into a house in the Carmen and you’ll see microwaves, TV remotes, headache tablets, kettles and oil-fired heating. That’s not the Carrickmore I know and love. Now they’ve tarmaced the buckin road. Why does everything have to be smooth these days? We’re all off to Kildress where the people still live at one with the wild.”
Not all shared McNally’s pessimism. Linda Hurson, a 39-year old unpublished writer, claims the new road is a deadly job:
“McNally would need to wind his neck in. Like the electric shaver and firelighters, the tarmaced road is here to stay. Women from Carrickmore couldn’t get jobs for years because they were applying make-up on the old bumpy concrete road and were going into interviews looking like drunk clowns. Now I can put on the heavy concealer no bother. My young lad doesn’t throw up as well. Obama’s going to think we’re flipping like the Chinese. Brilliant use of the funding.”
The official opening of the tarmaced road will take place tomorrow night with protesters warned they’ll get a good kicking if they attend.
Government officials have confirmed this afternoon that families in West Tyrone are to receive monetary compensation for having to house tens of thousands of Fermanagh locals who are to be evacuated during the two weeks in and around the historic G8 summit in Fermanagh in June this year. The on-going ‘We’re Not Animals’ campaign demanding to allow Fermanagh natives to stay in their own houses appears to have lost ground today as many families in the west Tyrone area have already begun adding extensions to barns, outhouses and sheds to cater for the 60’000 evacuees expected at the end of May. Stormont have said they will allow 2000 Fermanagh people to remain in the county during the summit, mostly doctors, lawyers and blow-ins from other counties.
“We’re a wee bit excited and a tiny bit scared too”, claimed Trillick greengrocer Hillary Buchanan. “It’ll be great for the children to mix with the Fermanagh people and experience different cultures and morals. My young lads are big into the Discovery Channel and often harrass me into taking them to safari parks and zoos so this is like a dream come true for them – on our own doorstep. I’ve been reading up on what they eat and it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Their diet appears to be maize or wheat mixed with a lot of water. I’ve downloaded loads of ‘Glenroe’ episodes, ‘Knight Rider’ and the ‘3-2-1 dusty bin’ programmes as apparently they’ve big in Fermanagh right now. I’m a tiny bit worried about communicating but we’ll get by on slates and chalk.”
‘We’re Not Animals’ campaign organiser, Harry Bogue, says they’ve all but given up hope on a government u-turn but promises to take a positive experience from their temporary refugee status in Tyrone over the fortnight. Using a whiteboard and marker, the Lisnaskea lace-maker told us:
“We no want move but we try to take home spices and stuff”
Obama’s office released a statement today regretting the absence of a chance to meet the rural Fermanagh community but admitted that it’s probably for the best as Germany’s Angela Merkel’s failed romance with a lad from Tempo during a beer festival in Berlin during the 60s is still raw. The Fermanagh evacuees will be bused in by Chambers and by train.