Wednesday 25 January 2012

If debt is a tumour then bailouts are chemotherapy!

Sadly, too many of us will be familiar with the maxim: if the cancer doesn’t kill you the chemo will. Recently over in England, I had to explain to my friends and family that however bad the UK economy might appear to them, with its trillion pound debt, the atmosphere in London was so preferable to the melancholic treacle we have to wade through every waking moment in Ireland.

When they asked me what’s it like living in a bailout country, I found myself describing awful things: our stunned outrage over the €1 billion paid to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which is nothing more than the new fascia of the dead bank previously known as Anglo-Irish; our utter disbelief at the €1.25 billion being paid to unsecured bond holders, because we know that if we mere proles failed to pay back an unsecured loan, the bank would sell our debt to bastards who’d come to our homes and take away our furniture and TVs; our seething frustration at the closure of hospitals all over the country; our boiling rage at the loss of schools and teaching jobs; our pathetic impotence in the face of VAT tax rises, because purchase tax damages the poor so much more than it hurts the rich; the demise of our self-respect as we either lose our jobs or face penury paying the new Universal Social Charge alongside the new Bank Levy, PRSI, the new Property Tax and Income Tax (blimey - nearly forgot Income Tax there, so blinded was I by all the new taxes!); the raging anger about …

… the raging anger about all of it, all of it all of it, because all the good that was in our lives and this nation is being slowly destroyed, poisoned, killed off to save invisible greedy rich people who gambled and lost.

And then it struck me. They’re trying to kill us in order to save us. The debt that neither Paddy nor Patricia Public was guilty of creating arrived like a tumour in the body of this nation, and now, with this disgustingly misnomered ‘bailout’, we are being pumped with chemotherapy, which in its efforts to kill the debt is destroying all that was good and healthy about us and the country in which we live (although it won’t succeed, because we and Ireland are just so bloody great, we will refuse to succumb).

A very dear friend of mine died of cancer a few years ago. She refused to have chemotherapy, preferring instead to enjoy a long happy Summer. My memories of her are not filled with the terrible sights of her treatment taking its toll, but rather of her beautiful face laughing over the kitchen table, as she prepared her healthy dinner and felt happy with her choices.

We all have to die sometime, but what’s the rush?
Why are we being forced to suffer this chemo poisoning now, when we all know this tumour is nothing more than an abstract number on a Troika computer screen?

Two barbers, a dead footballer and a bit of colonial symbolism!

A man’s relationship with his barber can be a wondrous and personal thing. In so many movies, when the old fella wants to talk about the mysteries of life, or mull over a very personal problem, he talks to his barber. I’ve been very lucky over the last 20 years in Galway, because I’ve had two excellent barbers who not only made sense of the swirling cow’s lick sheep’s ass hedge that is my hair, but also have been good for a bit of banter, craic and fiendish slagging.

The other day I was pounding along Salthill Prom (yes, the knee operation was a success, I’m thrilled to say) when my path crossed with Old Barber. I’m calling him that not because he’s longer in the tooth than New Barber, but simply that five years ago he put down his scissors to go to college.

Such is the heinous grapevine that is Galway, after our initial “Howyas!” I was able to tell him that he’d been spotted last week, back cutting hair in a shop in the high street. Was he done with college?

“No, Charlie, just doing one day a week for the bobs, y’understand. Nearly finished, now though, at college. Five years done and I’m about to be a barrister!”

“Bloody hell mate, well done! That’s incredible. I’ll have you on speed dial on my mobile.”

“Sure that’s what they all say! We’ll see, but it’ll be a great day when I put my scissors up on eBay!”

“Mate, you’re an inspiration! Well done, and thanks for giving me ammo to use against New Barber. I’ll be able to taunt him now that the Master is back on the job!”

“Thanks Charlie, but there’s one thing I’m really pissed off about. They’ve only just gone and changed the law, stopping barristers wearing wigs in court …”
and as he lifted the hood on his anorak to reveal his balding pate
“… and wasn’t that the only reason I bloody wanted to be one in the first place!”

We roared with laughter.

“Ah sure mate, those wigs were only sad leftovers of colonial symbolism. You’ll be better off without them.”

As we walked on our separate ways I smiled broadly, happy to live in a place where you bump into the bloke who used to cut your hair and share a laugh talking bollocks and colonial symbolism.

So when I popped into New Barber I told him he’d better do a bloody good job, ‘cos Old Barber was back on the beat. Trouble was, such is the nature of the two men, we only ended up talking about what a great bloke Old Barber was, and I knew that having sat in New Barber’s chair for many a year now, I was not about to take my barnet elsewhere.

But all this mutual male respect and lurrve didn’t stop us enjoying a good slagging. Most of our banter over the years has been based around the fact that, as my colyoomistas know, I am a life-long Chelsea fan, while New Barber is a Gooner, one of the lowest forms of animal life, otherwise known as an Arsenal fan.

I had a peach ready.
“Did ya hear the news? Chelsea’s bringing back Peter Osgood!”
“Peter Osgood? But isn’t he dead?”
“Sadly yes, but your lot have bought back Thierry Henry and Man United have dragged back Scholes, so while Drogba and the lads are away at the African Cup of Nations, we’re going to let Ossie have a few games.”

Thankfully he stood back and lowered his scissors before he fell about laughing and coughing.

“Peter Osgood! Love it! That’s the best one this week!”

Peter Osgood - The King Of Stamford Bridge.
(Here's a little ditty we used to sing back in the 60s and 70s, to the tune of 'The First Noel')

Out from the shed came a young rising star,
Scoring against Jennings from near and from far,
When Chelsea won the game like we all knew they would,
The star of that great team was Peter Osgood.
Osgood, Osgood, Osgood, Osgood,
Born is the king of Stamford Bridge,
Osgood, Osgood, Osgood, Osgood,
Born is the king of Stamford Bridge …..

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Where did the colyooms go?

Panic not my colyoomistas, just been the busy madman from Blurville for the last few weeks. Off to England to visit family and attend a friend's wedding this weekend, but already this desk has a little pile of shreds of paper with notes scrawled upon them, all reasy to be colyoomised next week.