Some hoary and perhaps whorey old readers may well recall that yours truly will happily admit to being a former altar boy (what can I say? I was young and I needed the money). But joshing aside, I was indeed an altar boy as a youngster and what's more, I even read at Mass, but only on week days; you had to work your way up to a reading at Sunday Mass you see.

One day, the priest came into the school. It was around the time that the Soviets had first got themselves embroiled in Afghanistan at the end of the 70s/early 80s. Solidarity was just kicking off in Poland as well – so when the Canon swept imperiously unannounced into the classroom, we all dutifully got to our feet and chorused 'Fáilte romhat a Athair' (Welcome Father).

With the vote almost upon us, there isn't a great deal that we in Croppy Towers can really add to the acres of print that have already covered the subject. Others, with greater eloquence and more at stake, have made the arguments under both constitutional and compassionate headings and they have been well made.

For those among you considering a career in contract killing, the recent release of a paper entitled 'Becoming a Hitman' by the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, could provide some handy hacks...

The paper, which is published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 'discusses what might motivate someone to become a hitman'.

But before we get into any trouble with those nice Birmingham criminologists, we feel honour-bound to say that we're just kidding.

On May 17, it will be 41 years  since I visited Dublin as a boy of four. We were there as a young family on a day out, having driven up in my father's little sky blue beetle. I remember my father singing The Battle Of New Orleans as we barrelled into the capital but I don't remember hearing the explosions in the city centre as we were leaving but my mother and father both did. 

What I do remember is fear, my parents' fear for their children as they left the bombed city behind.

It's been a while...

Lots of reasons for that but most of them in no way germane to the kind of schtick we normally purvey up here in Croppy Towers.

And as we're on the subject, exactly what kind of schtick was this questionable organ peddling in any event?

Looking back, a lot of it was probably sub-Brand polemic at best, based on the warm but woolly notion that somehow, there was still cause for optimism when it came to relying on the human capacity for empathy.

Leverage: a very elastic term, ambivalent even. When banks use it, they usually mean debt but when trade unionists talk about leverage, the word assumes an altogether higher purpose, or, depending on one’s perspective; it becomes a euphemism for intimidation.

The news recently that strikers at the Ineos-owned Grangemouth refinery had targeted the homes of managers for public protests raised some interesting questions about the changing nature of industrial disputes.

It’s funny how sometimes the truth has a habit of popping up and then in the midst of all the detail, it gets lost; like one of those photoshopped pictures that occasionally appear on everyone’s social media timelines. You know the ones; where you don’t notice the spectre hiding in plain sight in the background until you take a closer look. Well, I had one of those last week.

It’s a funny old world and no mistaking it. The following story made its way into The Rusty Wire Service’s dead letter drop and given that we love both literature and the endlessly diverting shenanigans of the global securocrat community, this was right there in our sweet spot. 

According to the link provided by my helpful correspondent (click here), the author of the following account is John Sifton, an attorney at Human Rights Watch.

Everything was grand till he got the hearing aid.

Up to that, he’d almost grown accustomed to his worsening disability. Sure, the ever-encroaching silence saddened him but he usually managed to make light of it. He’d invariably wheel out the story of how he first found out he was going deaf to anyone who’d listen.

“If they saw the enormity of it up front, they might decide they have a choice. You know what I mean?”  Former Anglo-Irish exec John Bowe explaining to a colleague why it was best not to initially divulge to the Central Bank the true extent of the bank’s losses.  (As reported in the Irish Independent)

Maybe I’ve been gone a long time, perhaps I’ve even picked up some fancy-schmancy English notions since I came to live in London.