Archive for the ‘Book Extract’ Category

Shame on you, Ray Houghton (Extract from Lord of the Rams)

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

So, after a 10-year wait, Ireland has at last qualified for a soccer tournament: Euro 2012. Our mere qualification should give the country a great boost next summer, and I’m looking forward to the draw and  the unfolding drama at the tournament itself.

I remember celebrating Ireland’s 2002 World Cup progress for almost a month, watching Packie Bonner save that infamous penalty at Italia ‘90, the great football songs from Euro ‘88 and the other tournaments,  and of course cheering on the team throughout USA ‘94.

This particular extract from Lord of the Rams captures my experiences during that historic ‘94 meeting between Ireland and Italy.

Ray Houghton has a lot to answer for. Sure, he is an Irish soccer legend who famously put the ball in the English net, but he’s also partly responsible for one of the biggest drinking sessions in Irish history.

It was June 1994 and, with just one final exam to sit in the Junior Certificate, the Rams and his mates were already in party mood. Rams and Mara had been attending discos at Springs for almost a year, and now Stano, Terry and Boo Boo were also on board, meaning they all potentially had a great summer of partying ahead of them.

The football World Cup had kicked off, and the Irish team faced a daunting challenge in their opening match against Italy at the Giant’s stadium in New York. The game was to take place on a Saturday evening Irish-time, and it was to be broadcast live on a big screen at Springs, with a disco to follow. The lads hopped on a mini-bus in town, and arrived at Springs early enough to secure a table with a decent view of the screen.

First they had to get past the bouncers. Normally this wasn’t a problem, only this time there were two gardai inspecting ID cards at the door. The Rams had a bit of a predicament on his hands because his precious fake ID had been confiscated by a bouncer on a recent visit to the club, and now he didn’t know how he was going to gain entry.

Fortunately, Lady Luck was in town that night and so was Paschal Baugh. Paschal was a fellow Munterconnaught man, in his mid-twenties, and a hell of a sound fella to boot. He had been playing with his popular band, Abinitzio, in the lounge bar of the Springs that evening, and was packing some of the band equipment into his car when the Rams spotted him. He quickly darted over to Paschal and, following a few minutes of small talk, asked if he could borrow some form of ID from him that would help him get past the gardai. Ever the obliging chap, Paschal rummaged through his wallet, but only managed to produce a blood donor card, which had nothing but his name on it.

‘That will do. Cheers Paschal,’ said the Rams, and he rejoined the queue for the nightclub.

When the Rams reached the top of the queue, the local Sergeant greeted him and pulled him aside for the obligatory interrogation.

‘Could I see some form of identification please?’

The Rams searched through his wallet for a few moments before calmly replying.

‘I seem to have left my ID at home, Sergeant. All I have is this blood donor card.’

‘There’s no date of birth on this card,’ growled the Sergeant in an attempt to rain on Rams’s parade.

‘Ah, but you have to be at least 18 to carry one of these cards,’ grinned the Rams, pleased that he had surely put the Sergeant back in his box.

‘Is that right? Tell me Paschal; where are you from?’

‘Munterconnaught.’

‘Easy question,’ thought the Rams. ‘Keep them coming.’

‘Have you any brothers or sisters?’

Now this was a strange one. The Rams didn’t know the Baugh family well. Paschal was the youngest in the family. He had an older brother, Damien, but that was about as much as Rams knew about the Baugh family tree. Nevertheless, surely any answer would suffice in order to appease the Sergeant.

‘Just the one brother, Damien.’

‘And what’s your mother’s name?’

‘Fucked if I know. But sure I’m on a roll here. I might as well fill this lad full of shite.’

‘Bridie, Sir.’

‘Now you listen here, Son,’ roared the Sergeant. ‘I know the Baugh family very well. I know Paschal and all of his many brothers and sisters. I even know his mother. Hell, I could probably tell you what the Baughs had for breakfast this morning. I’m warning you now. If you ever darken this door again, you’ll be in a whole heap of trouble.’

Having confiscated the donor card, the Sergeant proved that he wasn’t a complete ogre by allowing Rams into the club, despite his deceitfulness.

‘Jaysis, it’s a small old world,’ said the Rams, stating the obvious as he rejoined his friends at a table close to the dance floor. Shortly thereafter, the DJ began fuelling the soccer frenzy with classic Irish football songs such as Put ’em under pressure and Give it a lash Jack. Rams was the only one amongst his group not drinking beer. Most of the lads had recently begun experimenting with drink, but Rams was holding tight—at least for the time being.

Mara began guzzling back the pints with the thirst of a well-parched camel and, by the time the pre-match coverage started, he was as pissed as a fart. Spirits were high throughout the nightclub as the match got underway. Italy may have been the hot favourites, but you can never count out the Irish. With only 11 minutes gone in the match, Houghton intercepted an attempted clearance from Baresi and then, from 40 yards out, he quickly turned and fired an incredible shot over the head of the out-of-position Pagliuca. Everyone in the Springs, along with every other man, woman and child in the country, began screaming in an unparalleled and unified moment of euphoria. As the time ticked by, Ireland’s other hero of the day, Paul McGrath, played out of his skin to help his country secure a historic win. Once again and, not for the last time that night, Put ’em under pressure and Give it a lash Jack reverberated throughout the club. People were dancing all over the place, sworn enemies became best friends for the night, and there wasn’t a single soul failing to contribute to the electric atmosphere.

A large puddle of vomit consumed an area close to where the lads had been sitting. It wasn’t the watery type of puke one might associate with over-consumption of alcohol. Instead, it looked like someone had been mixing cement and poured it onto the floor. It was obviously the creation of some gobshite or other who had opted for chips and a few burgers before taking more drink on board than they could handle.

Undetected by Mara, the cement mix seemed to be drawing him closer to it as he danced a drunken dance that no man had ever seen before or would like to see again. In no time, Sean George was gyrating atop the puddle and, as people ran for cover in case they’d be splashed amid the horrific jig, he slipped in the mess, covering himself from head to toe in the vomit. Puking over oneself is never good, but dressing in someone else’s regurgitated dinner is just inexcusable. Nonetheless, Mara seemed unaffected and, getting to his feet, he continued the dance that was—because of the fall—now more gross than it was entertaining.

As the madness ensued throughout the club, the Rams decided that he’d bite the bullet and sample some alcohol. With money constraints at the back of his mind, he decided to take a swig or two from Boo Boo’s bottle of Heineken and, once that went down okay, he made for the bar to buy his first beer.

That infamous night in Springs in June 1994 marked the beginning of a long era of drinking sessions that would take the lads to many strange towns, resulting in numerous eventful and often hilarious adventures. Shame on you, Ray Houghton; you set the wheels in motion for all that followed.

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read more FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 2

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It’s fitting—given that Saint Patrick’s Day falls this week—that Part 2 of this exclusive Lord of the Rams story takes place on a 5-day Saint Paddy’s Day holiday to Latvia in 2006.

After celebrating the public holiday in Riga, partaking in some hair-raising bobsleighing in Sigulda, and ordering dinner from an unusual menu in a Cesis restaurant, our intrepid adventurers set off to find a good pub in what is a very small and quiet town.

Note: Please read Part 1 of this story prior to reading Part 2 below (which continues directly from the end of Part 1).


…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………

‘Do you know any good bars around here?’ Rams asked the fresh-faced brunette waitress.

‘There is a bar about 100 metres from here,’ she replied. ‘It is called “Boomerangs”.’ She wrote some basic directions on a piece of paper and, as she handed it to Rams, he produced a crumpled parchment of his own.

‘And do you know where this nightclub is?’ he asked, pointing at his almost illegible scrawl.

‘Ah, Vidzemnieks,’ said the waitress excitedly. ‘I am going there later with my friends. It’s a very good place.’

Rams, delighted that his little bit of research on C?sis was beginning to pay off, decided to turn the Irish charm up a notch.

‘That’s fantastic. Sure we’ll have to have a drink and a dance later so. A bit of Riverdance.’

The waitress blushed, smiled and told the lads she would see them later. With Winston and Tom still waiting for their food, the four refreshed farmers decided to head to Boomerangs for a few drinks.

‘Sure we’ll see yas there within the hour,’ said Rams to the Tipperary pair before departing Cafe Popular. Following some good-humoured banter with the friendly blonde receptionist, the lads finally made their way up the town in search of Boomerangs.

‘That’s funny,’ said the Rams, looking at the waitress’s directions. ‘She pronounced the bar as “Boomerangs” but she spelled it as “Bumerangs”.’

‘So long as it’s not The George we’re going to,’ said Eugene, referring to Dublin’s infamous gay club.

‘I’d say we’re alright, Eugene,’ reassured the Rams. ‘She wouldn’t do that to us.’

Only half a dozen customers were enjoying a frosty March pint when the four Irish lads walked into Bumerangs like they owned the place. Four of the six existing customers were propping up the bar, all of them eyeing the strangers with suspicion.

Eugene ordered four beers from the barwoman as Rams jested once again with a still hungry Terry and Bowers about their sumptuous evening meal. Although Rams had his back turned to the four locals, he noticed they were beginning to raise their voices somewhat aggressively.

‘I hope these lads aren’t going to start anything,’ Rams whispered to Terry.

Suddenly the barwoman asked the lads where they were from, and she translated Bowers’s reply to the locals.

‘I’m just going to the jacks,’ said Rams to his friends. ‘We might want to drink up and blow this joint when I get back.’

Moments later Rams returned from the toilet just in time to see the ‘leader’ of the group purchasing a large bottle of vodka and presenting it to Eugene. By now Terry and Bowers were looking a bit nervous, perhaps wondering what motives lay behind their new friend’s most generous gesture. Eugene, for his part, tried in vain to give the vodka back to the Latvian man who was now sitting on the stool next to him.

‘You’re not going to drink that, are ya?’ Rams asked as Eugene grabbed a few shot glasses from the bar counter.

‘Sure what choice do I have? He won’t take “no” for an answer.’

So Eugene opened the bottle of vodka and poured generous shots for himself, Terry and Bowers. Rams, along with all four of the locals, declined the offer of a drink. Instead he supped on the remnants of his warm beer, waiting to see what would happen next.

It turned out that Eugene’s benefactor had a basic understanding of English, and his gift to the lads now presented him with the perfect opening to start a conversation with them—particularly Eugene.

‘Where are you from?’ he asked, as if the barwoman’s earlier translation had fallen on deaf ears.

‘Ireland,’ replied Eugene, smiling and somewhat bemused by the friendliness of the man.

‘And what is your sexual orientation?’

Terry nearly choked on his vodka, and Bowers looked like he was about to shit himself as he observed all four large Latvian men staring at Eugene in anticipation of a favourable reply.

Like most Munterconnaught men, Eugene needed but a fraction of a second to reply.

‘Women, women. I’m married,’ he stuttered before following up with, ‘Anything split down the front,’ and a nervous laugh.

One could probably have heard a mouse fart at that moment in Bumerangs—Eugene sitting sheepishly on his stool, four angry but horny Latvians salivating beside him, Terry and Bowers gulping down their vodkas, and Rams making sure he had his arse against a wall in case things turned nasty in a Deliverance sort of way.

‘What time did ya say the flight is going at, Rams?’ said Eugene, his shifting eyes indicating to his friend that a convincing tarradiddle was urgently required.

‘I think it’s leaving at three o’clock tonight. We’d want to be making tracks soon if we’re going to make that flight.’

‘Do you know how long it takes to get from here to Riga?’ Eugene asked his Latvian friend in an attempt to change the conversation and justify his imminent departure. ‘We are flying back to Ireland tonight, so we need to get a taxi to Riga.’

‘It’s about two hours from here,’ came the frosty reply.

Eugene necked the remainder of his vodka and turned to his friends.

‘Right, we’d better head for the airport.’

But the lads were already half-way out of the pub. Eugene once again attempted in vain to return the bottle of vodka to the Latvian, and then he too made haste for the exit.

‘You need to be truthful about your sexuality,’ called the Latvian after Eugene.

‘What sort of a place was that?’ asked Eugene as the lads walked briskly away from Bumerangs.

‘I don’t know but we won’t be making it the local,’ replied Rams.

—END—

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 1

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Happy New Year. Although I’m working away on my first fiction novel, Dirtbirds, I haven’t totally forgotten about Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents, the sequel to Munterconnaught’s biggest selling book of 2008. Whilst the book is on hold for the time being, I hope to share the odd (rough) extract here from time to time.

The story below takes place in Latvia in 2006—I was actually recounting it to a group of people over the weekend, and I thought it would be no harm to post the written version online. Like the Vegas story I posted last year, Part 1 of this tale involves ordering food in a restaurant. Part 2 will be published to this blog in March. Feel free to comment below or share this link with your friends.

…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………
A taxi from Sigulda took the lads to Cesis in an hour. Regarded by many Latvians as an enduring example of pre-war, small-town Latvia, Cesis was characterised by some seductive narrow streets, castle ruins and—on this occasion—ankle-deep snow. It was a far cry from the busy city of Riga, and Rams was delighted with the opportunity to visit the ‘real Latvia’.

After checking into Hotel Cesis—a charming, recently modernised inter-war hotel overlooking the main square—the lads decided to freshen up before meeting for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Rams and Eugene were the first to show their faces in Cafe Popular. Both men were ravenous and decided to order dinner and let the others play catch-up when they arrived. The menu was a little strange in that it contained a number of weirdly-named dishes with no accompanying text to describe what the ingredients might be. Fortunately, Rams managed to find a fillet steak amongst the unconventional list, and he and Eugene ordered one each.

Terry arrived at the table just as the waitress finished taking the lads’ orders.

‘Jaysis, I’m starving,’ he announced. Quickly flicking through the menu, he turned impatiently to the Rams.

‘What did you order?’ he asked.

Winking surreptitiously at Eugene, Rams replied, ‘the “Farmer’s Refreshment”.’

‘And what’s that, now?’ asked Terry.

‘It’s a sort of a mixed grill,’ interjected Eugene. ‘Everything fucked in on it.’

‘Perfect,’ said Terry, calling over the waitress and ordering the mysterious dish.

Ten minutes later Bowers walked into the restaurant only to find Rams and Eugene tucking into prime slabs of fillet.

‘That looks the job,’ he said, eyeing the steaks hungrily. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s a Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Rams mischievously. ‘It’s a savage feed. Ya may order one.’

Bowers, like everyone else at the table, had never eaten a Farmer’s Refreshment before, and his suspicious nature directed him towards Terry for reassurance.

‘What are you going for?’ he asked.

‘The same as the boys,’ said Terry, an unwitting accomplice to Rams’s prank.

Bowers, still not convinced, decided to order the only fish item on the menu.

‘I’m sorry, we have no fish today,’ said the waitress.

‘Alright, I’ll have the Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Bowers.

Moments later Terry’s dinner was served and, much to the delight of Rams and Eugene, it was nothing but an omelette with a small side salad.

‘A fine refreshing feed for a farmer,’ laughed Rams while polishing off the remainder of his slab of beef.

‘You’re a fuckin’ bollocks, Rams. And you too, Tighe,’ howled Terry, but he couldn’t help but crack a smile at the childish antics of the Munterconnaught pair. More laughter ensued when Bowers’s fine steak-free dinner arrived.

‘Don’t go for the Farmer’s Refreshment whatever you do,’ Bowers warned Winston and Tom when they showed up moments later and began examining the menu. As the two Tipperary men scanned the menu for something that didn’t equate to rabbit food, Rams ordered more drinks for the table. But he was already thinking about where the lads might go after dinner.

To be continued …

—END—

Want to read more? Perhaps you might enjoy my original comedy memoir set in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (Now only €10 with free worldwide postage and packaging).

First Exclusive Extract (Draft) from Lord of the Rams 2

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I’m off to Vegas tomorrow for a five-day trip, so I thought this might be a good time to share a short story from my first time in Sin City back in 2005. This is a draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents (so it may undergo significant editing before publication). Coincidentally, all of the main characters in this extract will be joining me in Vegas this weekend. Who knows, maybe a new chapter will be written. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this wee story, which I think provides a small glimpse into some of the excesses associated with Vegas. Feel free to post your comments below.

…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………

Situated on the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino was the largest AAA Five-Diamond resort in America. It boasted over 4,000 suites at an average size of 700 square feet; a 120,000 square feet casino; several large nightclubs and restaurants; a Madame Tussaud’s museum; and the 1,760-seat Blue Man Theatre, which played host to the world-famous Blue Man Group. Add in one gigantic shopping mall and canals on which one could avail of gondola rides, and it’s easy to see why The Venetian stood out in a city brimming with stand-out resorts.

The hotels in Vegas were designed so that one must pass through the wallet-emptying casinos en route to one’s room. And The Venetian was no exception. After successfully navigating the gauntlet with their wallets intact, the lads reached their twin suites, which impressed mainly due to their sheer size and the abundance of couches and chairs that helped make up the decor.

One hour later they were seated in one of the resort’s many restaurants. Rams had set a personal target of eating as many steaks as possible on the trip, so he was particularly looking forward to a good fillet of beef following the so-so meal in LA the previous evening. A well-dressed gentleman showed the lads to their table before introducing them to their waiter. This certainly wasn’t one of those restaurants where the man who greets you at the door also waits the tables, slaughters the cows out the back, cooks the food and washes the dishes. After ordering a beer each, the lads skipped straight to the mains.

A ravenous Rams ordered his usual—fillet steak, French fries and a side-order of fried onions. The waiter, just like his international counterpart in Ljubljana earlier that year, didn’t seem too sure about the onions part of the order, but he eventually nodded, gathered the menus and scuttled off in the direction of the kitchen.

Within half an hour the waiter returned to the table. Courteous almost to a fault, he circled the lads, presenting Goosey, Dowd and Hartley with their meals before placing a large plate in front of the Rams.

‘Where are my chips?’ thought the Rams, and then he realised there was a bigger problem at hand. The chips arrived a moment later as a side-dish but there, nestled on the dinner plate beside a succulent eight-ounce fillet, was a huge mother fucker of a lobster.

Rams stared aghast at the arthropod, silently wondering if ‘onions’ meant something else in Vegas. Goosey, sitting across from the Rams, was quick to quiz the waiter.

‘He didn’t order the lobster. What’s the story with that?’

Rams nodded in agreement, but the waiter simply shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘It’s all included,’ before disappearing almost in a puff of smoke.

‘Ah sure lobsters must be ten a penny over here,’ remarked Hartley as the lads began tucking into their first shared meal of the holiday.

Rams, ever the pervicacious diner, shovelled the sea creature onto Dowd’s waiting plate. The shameless one was beaming and licking his lips at the prospect of eating two meals for the price of one. And the gastronome was still polishing off the lobster when Hartley called for the bill.

‘Ah for fuck sake,’ bellowed the Rams upon picking up the bill. ‘Just over 360 dollars. Are these guys for real? Sure we only had two beers each and a main course.’

Unsurprisingly, Rams’s ‘all included’ steak-lobster combo had come in at over 80 dollars.

‘And I didn’t even eat the lobster,’ complained the Rams, but the tiny claw remnants protruding at that moment from Dowd’s cave-like mouth suggested that the lads would have little grounds on which to make a complaint. Dowd had done an admirable job of devouring the evidence, but at least he wouldn’t have to eat again for a few hours.

—END—

Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide postage and packaging)


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