Brennie stuck in midsummer Mastermind chair
AGAINST THE ODDS:TRADITIONALLY, the midsummer Mastermind for the Minus Minusson Trophy was contested on the Tuesday closest to the summer solstice. By rights, this should have been June 19th but as the remnants of Trap’s battered and banjaxed army were retreating from the Eastern Front that day, Vinny Fitzpatrick’s suggestion they postpone the occasion for a week had been passed without demur.
The breather was welcome as Clontarf’s “Fab Four” had been on their last legs, and zloty, when they slipped back into Dublin.
Vinny felt they resembled Scott’s Antarctic party of 100 years ago, only somehow they made it out of their tent and scrambled back to safety. They were unkempt, whiskered and reeked of ingrained sweat and beer.
On his return, Vinny was tied to a morning shift on the 31 and had been tucked up in bed by 10 for five straight nights, with a milky cup of Horlick’s and the Racing Post.
Slowly, he’d come back to his old self, managing a soft-boiled egg on day one, four Superquinn sausages on day two, a mustard-encrusted toasted cheese sarnie on day three before a serious test, a single of curried chips for his tea on day four.
By the fifth day, he was ready to resume his long-standing relationship with Uncle Arthur. God, he’d missed the blighter.
While his Polish pals, Lech and Tyskie, had been fine companions, there was nothing like a pint of stout, with all its divine creaminess, to welcome you home.
For this year’s midsummer reunion, Brennie was in the Mastermind chair – one of the high stools by the bar – and his chosen specialist subject was the Irish Open golf championship, which was about to tee off in Royal Portrush. Inside two minutes, Brennie had to answer correctly a minimum of 12 questions put to him.
There was a few bob at stake plus the coveted Minus Minusson mug – in deference to the late Magnus Magnusson, the mastermind behind Mastermind.
Dial-A-Smile, the cheerless barman in Foley’s, was the timekeeper, which was appropriate as he knew exactly when last orders were, to the nano-second.
For a man who moved at a snail’s pace, Dial-A-Smile could whip a towel over a tap and disappear into the cellar in the blink of an eye, thought Vinny.
The stakes were modest, a tenner a man. If Brennie hit the magic number he won €30 which he put behind the bar. If he didn’t, it went behind the bar anyway. But this wasn’t about three tenners, it was about bagging bragging rights.