Joyce’s chat column: Maltese disasters and Dublin Craic

21/03/2012

After my recent trip to Malta I think I know how Scan Coin’s Steve Fitton and Tom, Weafer feel now with their travelling disasters.  The flight took off on time, but had to go back to the airport due to some engine problem or other, eventually four hours later I was once more in the sky and on the way again.

Landing in Malta, my luggage did not appear on the carousel and after waiting around an hour or so the luggage eventually appeared, but by this time the transfer to the hotel had left so they provided a taxi for me, so I thought all would be plain sailing now, but how wrong one can be!! 

The taxi left for the journey to the hotel and all was going well until the taxi developed a puncture. By this time I felt my trip would be over before it got started, anyway tyre changed the taxi set off once more and eventually arrived at the hotel, only to find that the restaurant had closed – so all that was on offer to me was a sandwich, and that was buttered and I don’t eat butter!!  It was a good job the bar was open and I was able to get some red wine, it would really have been a disaster if that had been closed too.  It was 28 years ago since I was last in Malta, and I can tell you it will be another 28 years before I even consider going back again.

I am so sorry to hear about the recent death of Joan Malpas, Novelty World’s Ian Malpas’s mother, she was such a lovely lady and so full of life and Ian doted on her.  I remember meeting Joan on my first visit to Southport and she made me so welcome, she was the type of person you felt you had known all your life, and that she was a personal friend and also like your mum.  I’m sure all of you that know Ian and most of us do would like to extend condolences to him and his family.

In my last column I mentioned the passing of Ivor Parry and Eleanor Eldridge the wife of the late trade personality Hal Eldridge has furnished me with a little more info on ‘Our Ivor.’

Ivor aged 17 was walking down Grays Inn Road, London and stopped to read a notice in a shop window which said Fruit Machine Mechanic Required – Apply Within, and as Ivor was standing there reading the notice a big tall man came out of the shop and said ‘Hello mate, are you looking for a job?’ Ivor replied ‘What is a fruit machine mechanic?’ to which the big tall man replied ‘Come inside and I’ll show you.’  At that time Ivor was employed as a typewriter mechanic and worked part-time on motor cars, and he felt once the job had been explained to him he could do the job offered and said he was interested.  The big tall man asked Ivor how much he was earning and Ivor being a wiley cockney kid said £9 per week which was a £1 more than he was actually paid and the big tall man said ‘Ok I’ll give you £11 per week’ which Ivor thought was great and accepted the job there and then.

The big tall man was none other than the late Hal Eldridge and the year was 1962, such fond memories tucked away in memory boxes but never to be forgotten!

Well, the Irish show in Dublin was just as social as ever, and an event one should ensure they put in their diaries, and not one to be missed, not just for the social side but for the business side too.  Many thanks to John Purcell and Susan Feery for their continued support for the raffle, all the kind companies who donated raffle prizes, and to the people who bought the raffle tickets for the draw which took place on the Tuesday evening social event of the show with the monies raised going to Barnardos.

Mick Kennedy of Harry Levy Amusements was as usual the MC for the raffle and with the auction that took place at the end of the raffle for a host of prizes in one bundle –  for which John Purcell placed the best bid, the sum raised was 850 euros, well done to all of you who won raffle prizes, hope you managed to get them home in one piece, mind you the 4.5kg of Toblerone that John Purcell got as part of the auction bid, will take a fair amount of eating, but I’m sure he’ll have lots of people to share it with him. So see you all again same time, same place next year and as always I will be on the look out for prizes for the raffle.  A final thanks to Alan Meats of Sound Leisure for providing the microphone for the event, a much needed accessory.

At the Irish show I was talking to Instance Machines’ Steve Perkins who was telling me a story about a visit to Clacton-on-Sea, and how he got involved with the local mafia unbeknown to him! Poor Steve had just gone for a drink in a bar and got involved in a quiz game, and he and the three people he teamed up with won the quiz, and the prize was 8 pints of beer. Well his other team members for some reasons or other could not accept any of the beer, one reason was that one person on the team was the landlord and the other two I think were barmen, so guess what it was left with Steve to demolish the 8 pints, which he did, but got back very late to his hotel, and had to knock the night porter up to get in.

Chatting with the night porter Steve told him of the events that had occurred and his 8 pint win, and the night porter queried which pub he had been in, and when Steve told him, the night porter was amazed that Steve had got out of this certain pub in one piece, apparently if had a reputation for not being a good place to drink in and had dodgy dealings, and the landlord was also known as dodgy.  Maybe it was a good job you could manage the 8 pints Steve, because who knows they could have been testing you to see if you were a suitable customer for their pub, and obviously you passed the test. Mind you when he next went back to Clacton-on-Sea he did not go into the pub again, not because he didn’t want to or that he was scared,  but it had closed down, and the landlord had been arrested for some dodgy dealings or other, talk about near misses Steve!!

Chatting with Derek Lynch at the show, I found out he was the winner of a raffle prize from the EAG, this turned out to be a few days in New York so he and his wife Maggie and their son Tom went off on it, even though the prize was only for 2 they just couldn’t leave Tom out they decided.  Derek showed me some photos, and it appears they had a whale of time and extended the trip to take in Washington too.  Talk about the luck of the Irish, well you certainly have that Derek.

On a visit to Joels restaurant in Clondalkin there were huge signs all around the venue advertising a large fantastic dedicated smoking area, and when I queried where the area was  (and no I do not smoke never have done) imagine my surprise when the reply came back, ‘oh you just stand outside the front door and smoke there.’  This shattered my illusions of an upmarket area, and of course this is typical of the Irish.

I noticed at the show that our Norman Leftly had a name badge on that said Norman Leftly – Legend or was it Leg End, no it was definitely Legend, well at least Norman someone has acknowledged the fact that you are a legend in your own right, but we all knew this without it having to be on your badge. I would also like to thank Norman for his photo he sent me, much appreciated, and gone to a good home.

Talking to Alan Crooks of Down Pool Tables he told me that John Underwood of Liverpool-based DPT Snooker Tables had died recently, it was very sudden, and John was only 62 years old he had not been ill, it all happened so quickly.  He leaves a wife and family, and apparently his two sons John and Andy have taken over the running of the business.  I remember John from the shows and he had that wonderful sense of scouse (Liverpool) humour, you were always assured of a laugh when you were talking to him, we will miss you John.

Gerald Steinberg of Northern Ireland based Joyland Amusements looked a million dollars when he visited the show on the 2nd day, apart from the fact that he looked very tanned, it was also very noticeable that Gerald had lost a lot of weight, 4 stone to be precise, and he looked great for it. Well done Gerald you must have had great willpower to achieve this.

It was lovely to see Bertie Cartmill from Buncrana at the show, he looked well and considering that Bertie is 86 years of age next, he certainly gave the young ones a run for their money at the social evening, he was never short of a drink and was still going strong well after some of the young ones had gone to bed.  This is a man that has lived and still intends to do so off all accounts, long may you continue Bertie.

Many thanks to Noraut’s Pat O’Donnell for his kind hospitality of dinner, it really was great craic and the 8 of us in the party really enjoyed it.  Just hope ‘Flutters’ got the two boys back to Northern Ireland in one piece, and that his eardrums didn’t ache too much when he got there, as the two boys concerned were definitely in fine form.   After all it wasn’t as if ‘Flutters’ could have had an extra few bevies to block out the noise, he had to be sensible and sober and only drink cokes, mind you he struck me as quite a shrewd character and maybe he is used to the two boys and came prepared with earmuffs!! 

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