I regularly see Elias Hanlon around Ponsonby. For some years I have been flattered to receive a nice card at Christmas time from Elias, and a voucher for an hours’ pool play at Ponsonby Pool Hall, in Ponsonby Road.
I have always been impressed with his positive, optimistic view on life, and his generous nature. Elias was conceived in Ponsonby in 1955 within sight of the famous Hydra bacon sign on College Hill and, as fate would have it, became involved with the then long established College Hill Billiard Hall in 1989. The business moved to Ponsonby Road in 1992 and has been there ever since as the Ponsonby Pool Hall. Elias Hanlon is an old boy of St Paul’s College.
Life has not always been kind to Elias. He had a heart attack at 44, and another at 58. You will have been able to do the maths from his birth date above to conclude that he is now 63.
One of the things Elias and I have in common is the same cardiologist. We have both been told to walk for fitness, and take the statins and other medication like good boys! Elias is walking most days, but joked that some days he feels like Usain Bolt, on others Billy Bunter.
When asked why he keeps on in business in Ponsonby, he has a perfectly logical answer: "Ponsonby is home."
Would he advise another business person to set up business in Ponsonby? Of course he would, but he cautions, "many see Ponsonby Road as 'the yellow brick road', only for it to become the 'boulevard of broken dreams'. The road can be a harsh mistress," Elias says.
We compared notes last month over a coffee. Not only are we both walking for our health, we are both off alcohol. I asked Elias if he was always as positive and cheery as when I see him around Ponsonby. "I love each day I’m alive," he says. "I’m comfortable in my own skin, and other people’s opinions of me don’t concern me."
I broached the subject of politics, but Elias isn’t easily drawn into discussions of politics, whether it’s national, local, or local business association. He’s dabbled in the local version.
He did say that if politicians had all kept their promises over the years, we’d be living in ‘valhalla’. He made a couple of other disparaging comments. "Too many noses in the trough." As far as politicians are concerned he said, "Too much hui and not enough doey."
Elias Hanlon is a wise man, with copious amounts of street cred. He loves his sayings, including when I asked him about his community service, he said, "Many are called, but few are chosen."
I choose Elias Hanlon as an example of a good citizen, who gives of himself without thought of reward for himself. A truly selfless individual, who inspires me every time I meet him. I always come away feeling a little bit better, with my faith in human nature reinforced.
Long may our dicky hearts keep beating, so our friendship can endure. (JOHN ELLIOTT)