Friday, March 07, 2008

Support Fergus O'Callaghan's Head Shave for Cancer Research!

Your Spailpín Fánach has a favour to ask of the loyal readership. Take a moment, before debauching yourselves at the weekend, to skip over here and support An Spailpín Fánach’s good friend Fergus O’Callaghan, who is having his head shaved next week to raise money for a children’s cancer charity.

You may say head shaving doesn’t seem that big a deal. You have not met the O’Callaghan. There are few hairs left on that great pate, and those that are there won’t be hanging around for long. He remains willing to sacrifice such hair has he has to the blade however, in order to raise money for St Baldrick’s, an international charity that helps fund research into children’s cancer and leukaemia.

As you can see from the link, Fergus is currently resident is bonnie Scotland, a long way from the beautiful city of Cork by the Lee. An Spailpín Fánach has studied the Corkman at home and abroad, and has noticed that no-one gets homesick like him. The homing pigeon is as a speck of dust in comparison to the Corkman abroad; that is, anywhere beyond the ringing of those Shandon bells might be as darkest Peru to the poor eejit. Pity then the O’Callaghan, trudging the highland heather, watching the locals eating herring and porridge and going to kirk, and dreaming all the while of crubeens and Miah and Cha and all that other weird stuff down there.

An Spailpín and Fergus are friends because we did time together. We both did a FÁS course in 1998 – ten years ago, the Lord save us! – in an effort to re-invent ourselves in the workplace. Only those who have done FÁS courses can know what they are like; watch a few of those old World War II prisoner of war movies, like Stalag 17 or Von Ryan’s Express, and you’ll get the general idea.

If that FÁS course, conducted in Middle Abbey Street and Portobello, Dublins 1 and 8, were The Great Escape, the O’Callaghan would be Flight Lieutenant Danny Velinski, as portrayed by Charles Bronson in that picture, only with less hair of course. He didn’t get involved in some of the strange politics that went on; he just simply went down in the hole every day and desperately dug his way to freedom. (Your correspondent would have been Flying Officer Archibald Ives, by the way – you know, the little buckeen that keeps getting caught by Jerry and eventually goes insane in the lockup? That’d be me down to me shoes).

No matter. Fergus made his way out, via Milan, Rome and finally Scotland, now it’s time for him to pay something back. If you have doubts about the fact that the charity is outside the Green Isle of Erin, think on these two points. Firstly, cancer can’t tell if you’re Irish, English or Welsh; it recognises few national boundaries. And secondly – how likely is it that our own bucks will be finding a cure for cancer anytime soon? Hoping the Jocks do it and Ryanair provides cheap flights over is our one hope. Donate now, and thank you.

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