independent

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Graduation day: where did those years go?

SHEA TOMKINS

IN THE jumbled chest of images that constitutes my memory, it only seems like yesterday I slipped a girl I knew a twenty and asked to borrow her flat hat, cloak and scroll. It was the late 1990s and graduation day in the recently submerged Welsh town of Aberystwyth, at the university where I was somewhat prepared for adult life.

I needed to stand in for a photo for future proof of my presence, before tossing the lot in the air and bolting for the nearest watering hole. Failure to prepare for the big occasion was commonplace for me and my peers. It was obvious from the resulting picture that the head belonging to the girl that helped me out had a smaller circumference than mine - and I could have done with a shave. Later, she told me that she spent the twenty well.

Last week, there were far more civilised scenes under our roof as a special occasion was celebrated; the young lad graduated from creche. It was a milestone that came all too swiftly in the end. Both the good woman and I gushed as he descended the stairs in his best shirt and pants, his hair respectfully trimmed. I couldn't make the actual ceremony as I had work commitments, but his mother brought the camcorder and the following evening we sat like blubbering idiots, thinking how much like a little man he had become.

It was a week for graduations, as it turned out. The woman in the bank told me her two grown children were graduating from college, and a visiting friend had been to his daughter's end of primary school graduation, the daunting secondary years no longer a dot on the horizon. It knocked home in my head about life and its different stages, and how sooner or later, with a bit of luck, most of us pass through them.

The young lad has one more summer to enjoy before big school swallows him up and he becomes another cog in the machine that is the Irish educational system. And as millions of parents have done before, we'll brush ourselves down and deal with the dramas as they unfold. Leaving his creche days behind is an end of an innocence, in a way, and it carries an air of poignancy - unfortunately, life doesn't come with brakes. We look forward to a whole new chapter of adventures, when September comes.

WHO IS TO BLAME FOR OBESITY?

The Men That Made Us Fat (part two) aired on BBC 2 last Thursday night. Afterwards I was left with the impression that their blame for a chronic obesity problem in western civilisation lies mainly with the companies that are focused on making jumbo-sized profits, a money-spinner callously orchestrated at hungry Joe Public's expense.

While there were interesting points made, including how an initially reluctant McDonald's eventually decided to go down the extravalue-sized-meals route to fight off competition from their fast food rivals, and that the Double Gulp (double gulp, when you see the size of the thing) soda contains 64 spoonfuls of sugar, it failed to hit home the point that ultimately the individual is responsible for what he or she allows enter their bodies. As happened when I went to the cinema to watch Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me documentary in 2004, seeing those burgers being flipped before drowning under melted cheese left me craving a Big Mac. The good woman suggests that men generally crave meat more, while women prefer chips. I'm not sure about the scientific proof on that one, but I wouldn't say no to a trip to the nearest McDonald's right now to do some research of my own. Oh, the thoughts of it.

PLUG PULLED ON ENGLAND GAME

It is of little interest to me how FAI chief John Delaney lets his hair down when attending the European Championships, but a story that emerged over the weekend where it has been revealed that the plug has been pulled on a lucrative summer friendly between England and Republic of Ireland, matters considerably more.

Sports promoter Damien O'Brien claims he had reached an agreement with the FAI for the game in Dublin in August, but scrapped the idea after the FAI scuppered another plan of his, to hold a tournament at Thomond Park in Limerick. There was a rumour that Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic were two of four teams that had agreed to take part in a tournament at the Munster venue.

Sports minister Michael Ring apparently approached Delaney on the issue, and accepted his explanation for refusing to allow the tournament to go ahead. I'm sure many soccer fans would like to have that reason explained to them, especially when it falls on the greater sporting public to vote with their feet to decide if these events are successful after all.

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