Credit Cards have a way with Words

Credit cards have a way with words. Some of the best lines have centred round their use. From the ‘No charge’ slogan in the 80s, to the Not the Nine O’clock News sketch with Pamela Stephenson where she invited her credit card customer to stroke her boob (ok, it was a location joke, a vintage location joke playing on the fact that America Express took an exalted view of its own brand of commerce) to the most recent Mastercard line, There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Mastercard. Of course, the ultimate irony with credit cards is that while they are selling you a way of life, in reality they are just helping you spend money more easily and costing everyone a percentage into the bargain. Credit cards take their cut, like Shylock’s pound of flesh, and usury is a dirty business after all. Being a credit card is a bit like being a parent. Or is that being a parent is just like being a credit card. It’s all spend, spend, spend on one’s progeny. Unlike credit cards, however, there is not a fixed expiry date. It just keeps bobbing along until the parent expires. […]

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Exporting our Troubles

As a nation we have become adept at exporting our troubles. When our population soared in the mid 1800s we exported our surplus population by the coffin ship. There just were not enough potatoes to go around. When we grew a pair and started to demand national self determination and that spilled in active resistance in the next century, so we began flexing the fledging muscles of independence. But then when a timely and largely indiscriminate thin red line was drawn across the upper province of our country, we managed to export the actual violence and daily grind of sectarian anger and destruction over the border. When we were unable to cope with the concept and possible results of sex outside of marriage, we exported our pregnant teenagers to the UK to have abortions. We still export this problem for distressed women who need a termination regardless of marriage status. When we could not tolerate any breakdown in the sanctity of marriage, we exported that problem too for a long time. Even now, we operate a splintered path to divorce, a two part process that draws out the painful division of a couple, resulting in months, even years of arguing […]

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I’ve hit Rock Bottom and I’m Really Happy

It’s official. In November I hit rock bottom. The bailiffs came to my office to seize my goods. Only they gave me a stay of execution for a week. I have to say it was the toughest week of my life: the toughest week in a run of five years of very tough weeks. I am glad to say that on that Friday in November the stay was extended and the threat removed. I am glad to say my eldest daughter does not need to leave school and get a job as a groom to support her broken mother. I am so very glad to see the back of that week. And I’m even better than glad, I’m actually really happy because I have hit rock bottom and as everyone knows, once you hit the bottom, the only way is up. Over the past five years I have hit so many lows, you’d have thought I was limbo dancer trying desperately to get under that bar. And each time, it moved a little lower. I’m pretty flexible and springy but there is a limit, and even elastic can snap. So, when I went into meltdown during that terrible week, my […]

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Debt Becomes Her

At the end of last year, as the debate over our national indebtedness continues, there was a horrific story that hit the headlines:  A professional Irish man who had lost his job and was currently unemployed, was struggling to pay his mortgage. And in struggling to pay his mortgage, he was neglecting to feed his children. The story grew even more terrible as it transpired he found his daughter in her bedroom chewing on cardboard from a cereal packet to stave off the hunger. This story is frightening from so many perspectives that it is hard to know where to begin. One really scary point is that it is being told in modern Ireland. This was not, when I last looked, a Third World country with no infrastructure, no police force, and no welfare state. This is a country that recently entertained the Queen and the President of the United States of America. We spent millions on security, on entertainment, on promoting the visits but they went without hitch and even with a fair degree of pride. In terms of keeping up with the Joneses, we were right up there. Is feider linn we all repeated after the O’Bama from […]

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How do you find the middle?

Bang in the Middle!   Jillian Godsil became divorced. Her ex husband became bankrupt and she was left with a million euro mortgage on a house worth half that. This is her story about being in the middle.     How do you know when you are in the middle? Is it by age, experience or weight? As the Ardal O’Hanlon joke goes, everyone wants to know your weight at birth but no one wants to know at death. So how can we tell where we are? Age is equally arbitrary; genes and luck count in unequal amounts; some of the healthiest people I know have been struck down in car accidents, lives wrenched horribly short. Or do the gods wait for us to complete our own personal bucket list? And what if we are too conservative or wildly over-optimistic? Does that have any bearing on what we get to finish and can we keep on topping that list up every year if we are lucky enough to reach those ambitions? I am hoping I am only at the middle. It feels a bit like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: she may have pleaded for everyone to believe in fairies; I […]

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