Wednesday, September 26, 2012

(Not Quite) Empty Nest

Our eldest has flown the coup! That has got to be the quickest eighteen years and ten months EVER! But she has flow to pursue her burning ambition and for that I am eternally grateful! But she’s gone abroad, and that adds another dimension…she may never live here again. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing (having emigrated myself when I was nineteen), but it’s sad all the same. Our home is different too. Certainly quieter, but somehow incomplete. But this is what you do as parents. You set the game up, but you know that it is not a game that you will ever play, that’s for your child to do. You hope that you’ve set the game up in such a way that the odds of winning are stacked heavily in their favour, but you can never tell what the game will present them with. But boy – what an adventure this game is!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Celebrity 2012 Style

Firstly, well done London 2012, it’s never easy for a city to host the Olympics, and your citizens should be rightly proud of their contribution (both financially and emotionally) in bring it about. But as I look at these games (and not being a “sporty” type) I was struck by something that I’d like to share…we may have a new style of “celebrity”.
During the last season of “Britain’s Got Talent” there was a young man from Northern Ireland called Ashley Elliot who played a xylophone. Ashley was sixteen years of age, and was clearly a person who had put in years of practice, hours each week of dedicated time devoted to learning, improving and mastering his chosen instrument. But, in this age of “celebrity”, that sort of dedication doesn’t count for much. “Will it sell?” said Simon Cowell…and that is all he cares about. I like that art sells, I think it’s fantastic that artists get paid for what they produce, but art, sports, music and even business, is not JUST about the money. The young girl who trained the dog who eventually won deserves a huge amount of credit for her dedication to training that dog, and in the end they were worthy winners, but young Ashley’s efforts were deemed far less worthy than a man with a saucepan on his head repeating the word “exterminate!” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about – don’t waste a moment of your life looking for it on You Tube – you will beg God for those moments back on your death bed). Being stupid (I don’t mean “funny” – I mean “stupid”) is talented, being dedicated is not.
And so we come to these past few days. Of course, as an Irishman, I want to see Team Ireland doing well, but I think the Olympics goes beyond that. I was delighted to see Andy Murray win gold, to see Bolt do what Bolt does, to see a Belarus gymnast on a pummel horse with the strength of a weightlifter, the gracefulness of a ballet dancer and the mental agility of a chess grand master. But I’m also in awe of those who have very little chance of standing on the winners platform, who have reached a level in their chosen sport that the vast majority can only dream of. When they do not win – they are not losers – they are competitors. They inspire the young to try, and fill those of us who are older with regrets that we didn’t take opportunities when we were younger. For some countries they reward their medal winners financially, but I love the fact that TeamGB is rewarding them with a stamp in their honour! To see John Joe Nevin on the front of todays newspapers here and not Big Brother’s “Tony” (or whoever) and his affair with a “hostess” is refreshing. Let’s hope Annalise Murphy and Jessica Ennis, Katie Taylor and Mo Farah are inspiring not only future athletes, but future generations who will take up the xylophone rather than place a saucepan on their head.     

Friday, July 13, 2012


Talk about your "blast from the past". This is me in c1992 in a basement of some "comedy club" in Islington, London. Twenty years on and I haven't aged a day (LOL)! Thanks to Rob O'Neill for being there and digging out this from his shed!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why "NO"

Firstly I must point out that I hold no truck with SF nonsense policies, nor Gangley’s  ravings, nor do I trust Shane Ross after his cheerleading pronouncements during the boom for Anglo Irish Bank. I also declare that I believe, for the most part, FG/Lab are doing a reasonably good job in government with the mess they inherited. So why am I voting no?
For me it comes back to that faithful day in 2007, when the late Brian Lenihan, under pressure from vested interests in the domestic banking sector, undertook to guarantee the deposits within the Irish banks. However, not only did he do that, but he included the debts of these institutions in his undertaking. These debts (Corporate Bonds) were now being underwritten by the Irish Government (and therefore its citizens) rather than the institutions. At the time of this action there was uproar across Europe, and especially the UK, at our action to safeguard these deposits. The eye was off the ball regarding the bonds both here and abroad. The then government (in their “cute whore” “pulling a stroke” ways) felt that they would show the world that we as a country were solid and reliable, with a banking system that was equally strong. The banks (Irish Nationwide springs to mind) were encouraging savers in the UK (who had seen a run on Northern Rock) to move their monies to them (much to the annoyance of Mr Darling). How wrong they were…
Move on to November 2010 and the Irish Government in light of their inability to grasp basic economics and their fear of vested interests called upon The IMF, The ECB and The EU to bail us out. This was, and remains, a shame upon us as a people. However, in a way, I was personally glad to see these arrive, as it meant that the parish pump fifth rate politicians were, for all intents and purposes, now merely puppets. A new government swept in in March 2011 and the electorate decided that they did not want a single party government who could stick to their manifesto, but a blending of a centre left and a centre right party. So again I don’t blame Mr Gilmore or Mr Kenny for reneging on election promises, that is what WE voted in.
So moving on to where we now stand. I believe we need austerity. I believe we need to be as balanced as we can be. So the idea of doing this appeals to me greatly. By austerity, I mean that we need to rein in spending and progressively tax income more and pay for services that provide social and economic value. I am NOT against the Household Charge nor the  imposition of water charges (with or without a meter). I don’t WANT to pay them, I can ill afford to pay them, but I think we SHOULD pay them. But I also believe that, as a soverign nation we need to be able to make decisions about our economic policy. Under the original treaty that we signed up to join the Single European Currency (the Euro) we agreed that the national budget would either be in surplus, or in deficit up to 3% of GDP. A sensible approach, which we must adhere to.
What this Fiscal Compact Treaty does is take away the prospect of soverign governments in this state (or any others) from ever again following the General Economic Theories of John Maynard Keynes.  This is not a policy that you would want to employ ALL the time, but it is a policy that you may (or indeed should) apply in times of economic bust. This is the policy that is being perused by the current US administration, the UK to an extent, India, Australia etc. So while we in the Eurozone, outside of Germany, languish in a downward spiral in order to ensure that Germany’s historical fear of inflation is appeased, these other countries are working their way out of it.
So why NO? Because I don’t want this government, or any Irish government in the future to have access to this fund. I do not believe SF when they say we can access it by voting no, I hope we can’t. The ECB and EU let us down in our time of need with the extortionist interest rates they charged us, in fact it was the IMF and our bi-lateral arrangements (notably the UK) which provided us the cheapest rates initially. I ask this question. Where do Germany go when they need funding? Well they go to the “markets”, just like we always did. The markets make a decision on how much interest we would need to pay to make them interested in buying our bonds upon a number of criteria, the most notable being do they think they’ll get it back!
We have shown for many years that we always pay our debts. We’re even paying debts that should not be  but are now ours. I don’t care if the EU or the ECB think we are the best boys in town, but I do care that investors (the markets) think we are.
If we pass this treaty then this “insurance policy” (because of a lower interest rate) will be our first and only port of call for borrowing, not the markets. If the markets are our only source (as it should be) then we will have to make a more concerted effort to show them we are trustworthy, we are growing and we are both independent and interdependent on our trading partners. No for me means stand up and be proud and stop lying in the gutter waiting for someone else to dig you out.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time For Change?

There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter here in Ireland regarding the creation of a new force – or forces – in Irish Politics. The recent Irish Times/MRBI© Opinion poll puts Sinn Fein on 21% making it the second largest party, in terms of popular support. This would have been unheard of five years ago never mind ten or twenty. The government parties (Fine Gale and Labour) still enjoy the support of the majority, all be it by the tightest of margins. As an electorate we have allowed ourselves to be lead at times by individuals who quite seriously could not run a golf club. We have allowed an oath of allegiance and a treaty boundary to dictate who we vote for. Politics does not come into it, ideology, most certainly not.  Even though most ideology moves to a more pragmatic centre ground once you have to actually govern…but even besides that…for the majority we are happy for our politicians to sit on the fence. No one wants to pay for services, yet no one wants services reduced. Even on other issues most are happy to play on both sides. A recent example is Sinn Fein’s pronouncements on the X Case legislation, we’re pro-life – and we’re pro-choice! They are not alone in this – they all do it because they have a constant eye on the next election. We badly need reform of certain public services (and certain public servants) and we badly need governmental reform in the body politic. If we agree that the whip system is the right way to continue, then don’t be surprised when your local TD votes along party lines against a burning local issue. Personally I believe that any TD elected for a party who loses the whip, should lose their seat. I have never voted for personalities, I vote for party candidates based on published manifestos. So if an individual resigns from that responsibility, they have let many of the people who voted them in down. We need solid and stable fix term government, and it is time that people woke up and started to take up the mantle and decide if what they are being offered is good enough. There are many fine people in all political parties and many more from none. Many of us seek a home politically – and simply – cannot find it within the current offering.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Adoption Viewpoint

I was adopted at birth in 1967. I have never sought out my birth mother and many (mainly non-adopted persons) can’t seem to understand that. So here is my view on the process.
I firmly believe that my birth mother did not give me to adoption easily. It must have been a very difficult decision, even if the decision was taken out of her hands. I can’t imagine that day in 1967 being a happy one in her life. But for me it was. This great woman (as all mothers are) gave me the precious gift of life. I am simply so grateful to her for that one great act – she owes me nothing.
When she signed the papers she understood that a door was not just closed, but the doorway was blocked up in a way that nobody would even know there was a door there once before.  She did that in good faith that she could “get on” with her life. That didn’t make any easier I’m sure but it brought a deal of certainty for her. I would NEVER want to break that wall unless she was the one to remove the bricks. Should she have this power – absolutely!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bucket List

OK so time for my new bucket list! The key to this is "be specific"! I'm putting forward five goals (that's about all I could handle in a year).
So number one is ... weight loss. I have a "considerable" amount of weight that I really have to get serious about. I'm the worst in the world when it comes to food, and it's playing havoc with my desire to live beyond fifty. Never have too much problem with the "excercise" part as I enjoy walking and our dog does too - but food - that's my downfall. So new year - let's get down to this. The resolution is simple. STOP eating chocolate bars and sweets. STOP eating take away. EAT plenty of fruit and veg. Drink two litres of water each and every day and...well that's it. I recon by committing to this I will lose my two pounds a week, and by the end of the year I'll have lost a hundred.
Number two...well number two is already in train - playing the Bull McCabe in "The Field" (best start learning my lines).
Number get some qualification regarding VB programming. Something long term, not a one day course.
Number four...(didn't do this last year so...) Date Night. Once a month to have some real quality time just for us.
Number five...get gigging! Aim is to play regular gigs (weekly) and to go to singer/songwriter sessions eavery two months to try out new material.
I've said it - Now LET IT BE DONE!