Monday, 3 August 2015


As I drove out of Galway on last week’s Blue Bag trip I noticed that there were traffic cones at Dead Tiger Roundabout. Between Oranmore and Clarinbridge, the roundabout serves as a stunningly apt monument to greed and excess. 

Created to serve a housing estate that was never built, it goes nowhere and offers no purpose.  Hopefully those cones meant that it was finally being removed.

Watching the rise and demise of the Celtic Tiger was painful for me, as I’d already lived through the construction-based Boom and Bust economy of Thatcher’s Britain. The Irish had never had it so good, embracing the lure of monetary wealth with the fresh gusto of a puppy trying to catch a bee.

So now, after the sting and the crash, beyond ghost estates built on flood plains, there lurks this circular mausoleum to Mammon. 

Doubtless behind its creation smoulder disputes between developers, councils, banks and builders, but to you and me it’s a pointless waste of time and money.

For years I have dreamed of creeping up in the dead of night and mounting a large sign, declaring ‘Dead Tiger Roundabout’, above which I’d place a full colour cut-out of a very large very dead green tiger, all four paws pointed straight to the sky.

At least giving it a name would offer some purpose to the roundabout. Maybe as we drove past the sign and giant upturned cat, we’d smile and think back, possibly learning something of our own absurd natures.

It didn't help when they awarded the pointless roundabout a signpost, all flashing digital lights and colours, warning: Slow Down - Roundabout Ahead.

We all mindlessly follow all the other traffic who have no choice but to go straight on, wondering whether we should indicate, before deciding that there’s no bloody point.

Has anyone spared even a moment for the roundabout itself? How do you think it might feel to be a roundabout that nobody needs? Unless utterly lost, nobody will ever drive all the way around it. How much existential angst might a roundabout with no turnoffs suffer?

More to the point, what right do I have to be wasting your time with such nonsense?

The maxim tells us that time is money, but here in the West of ireland the two do not have the same relationship as elsewhere. At any given time I’d say around 40% of my workload  consists of unpaid labour. Of that, three quarters I do willingly, because I know many who have serious needs or great skills other than writing.

At the end of Europe’s western road there still exists the economic force of ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’, for which there is no app. You cannot formalise a nebulous arrangement, so with friends and others who make it clear from the off that they cannot afford to pay me, I’m happy to help.

This work I do without hoping that something might come of it down the road, but rather the faith that it might, coupled with the pure and simple pleasure of helping another.

However the final quarter of my unpaid workload gives me no pleasure at all. Quite often it seems that the more money people have, the more willing they are to waste your time.

Regularly I receive calls from clients saying that they really want to do my ‘Craft of Writing’ course, but they haven’t the time to attend classes. I then explain that I also offer bespoke 1-1 courses, designed to fit busy lifestyles. When I point out that the 1-1 course is more expensive than my group classes, they tell me that’s fine.

Earlier this year, one character even uttered the words:

“Money is not a problem, Charlie.”

That’s not something you hear too often. As an astute friend of mine pointed out at the time, just because dosh wasn’t a problem to them didn't mean any of it was about to head my way.

Invariably these types say the 1-1 course sounds perfect, but several phone calls later it turns out that this year’s not a good year for them. A year later they call again. This time they say they’re certain, so I drive into Galway to meet them, listen to what they want and design their course accordingly.

Then I hear nothing at all. Eventually I politely enquire as to whether they are interested and it turns out that this year is not a good year for them, but would I be interested in doing some work for them for free?


A member of the Oireachtas contacts me offering ‘writing opportunities.’ After wasting a working day while they change arrangements, we eventually meet. They ramble semi-coherently about do-gooding schemes, wittering half-formed ideas about helping the kiddies. They suggest nothing, offer less and promise to send me reports that are inevitably never sent.

I leave wondering what on earth they wanted from the meeting.
Why had they called me? What opportunities had I missed?

None. They were just wasting my time, because they could afford to.

Sadly the death of the Tiger has had no effect on those in power and privileged positions. They care no more than they ever did, possessing precious little awareness of the needs of Patricia and Pat Public. Maybe it’s silly of me to hope they might, but hey, at least there were cones at Dead Tiger Roundabout.

Maybe by the time I return to Galway the depressingly stupid carousel will be gone.

As I drive up towards it I notice that yellow slow-down stripes have been freshly painted across the roads and - no, surely not! - new concrete pavements have been built around it, so that anyone who is leaving the housing estate that doesn’t exist can walk around the roundabout that goes nowhere.

How they can justify spending yet more money on such a pointless waste of time?

Then again, maybe such an investment in futility was inevitable.

©Charlie Adley

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