Not so much looking down as across..

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

nO2 - No to

nO2 – No to

More bills
More hassle
More technology

Are you of an age where you do not understand your mobile phone bill?
Are you someone who worries when you are offered ‘upgrades’ by your mobile phone provider?
Are you a phone junkie who spends more money on your various phone and media bills than you spend on food?
Are you one of those idiots who haven’t a clue what phone plan you have signed up to?
Then this Post may appeal to you!

Welcome to the fold!

I have decided to say ‘No’ to
- any further upgrades
- any new phones
- any offer of tickets to gigs, concerts, music, basically no to anything
- any offer of meals, drinks, pubs, cafes or restaurants

I am of a generation which simply does not believe in the concept of a free lunch.
I also am of a generation that simply wants a phone to be a phone
It doesn’t have to
- make coffee
- take photos
- make videos
- link me to Facebook or any other book

Together let’s start a new revolution
- Reclaim our lives -get our mobile phones and lock them away for two days every week and twelve hours a day on the other 5
- Take 30 minutes before you reply to a text, any text, every text. If your caller is dying, you will have saved the cost of a text. Develop discipline and will power. Be your own man (or woman).
- Enter rehab if necessary to deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
- Donate what money you can to victims of Twitter who have abandoned their own lives and forsaken their sanity for the sake of others
- Campaign for global write down of phone bill debts owed by idiots who accepted ’free upgrades’
- Donate the money you save by not going to those concerts you really didn’t want to attend to good causes in the Third World

- It’s good to talk, but there are times when its even better to stay silent
- The conversations we don’t have are often more important than the ones we do
- Let’s give more time to the people around us, family, friends or work colleagues, let’s not cop out in the virtual world
- Let’s bring down the gears of life and enjoy the lower gears a bit more.
Excuse me now my mobile is ringing

Goodbye Garret the Good

I only met Garret FitzGerald once. And sadly it was only briefly. It was over breakfast at a weekend seminar organised by his son Mark for Sherry FitzGerald staff and friends.
At early breakfast Garret was looking good and many years younger than his 82 at the time. Many, myself included, were the worse for wear due to ‘socializing’ into the early hours. As a result over breakfast we were looking many years older than our birth certs might suggest.

It was the classic ‘quiet’ business breakfast that follows the noisy night before. Our husbands, wives and partners who should have been a civilizing influence had clearly failed and so small talk was of the hushed variety as conference delegates struggled to remember their own name, never mind the names of colleagues who had come from the far flung corners of Ireland and beyond.

It was in this context that I mumbled a ‘Good Morning’ to Garret who by this time, no doubt, had read both the Irish Times and the Financial Times. I often regretted that I missed the opportunity to engage in something more meaningful.

I could have mentioned how I was a member of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland at the time of which he was Chairman for many years. But having never actually travelled on one of the steam engines that conversation might have disappeared down a cul de sac, or into a siding to use the technical term.

The truth is that I could have spoken to Garret on a wide range of subjects because he was uniquely Ireland’s Renaissance man with a passionate interest in a wide spectrum of interests, political, social, economic and financial. Garret was Ireland’s answer to Stephen Fry, and much much more. He was an elder Statesman in the mould of Paddy Ashdown or Neil Kinnock but without the slightly tribal chains that occasionally shackle them. You could be an ardent member of Fianna Fail and say you liked Garret and remain in the party. Because in truth Garret transcended party politics, indeed he transcended politics in its narrowest definition and was a Statesman in the true sense.

I had the good fortune to work as a consultant to his son’s company Sherry FitzGerald for two years. It was and is a remarkable company in terms of the humanity and egalitarian roots that shine through in many areas. It is hard to believe that it was a mere coincidence that the company co founded by Garret’s son Mark demonstrates so many of his own characteristics.

Our country has lost a great leader. Our people have lost an intellectual and moral touchstone. His family has lost a wonderful father and grandfather. I have lost the chance to enquire about the punctuality of steam trains in the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

I fully believe that he is resting at God’s side – ar dheis De – and while he may not need our prayers he will certainly receive our fondest thoughts for many many years to come.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time up for Brave Brian

Shadows on the clositer wall of Santa Maria, Los Arcos, Navarra, Spain, May 14th, 2011

Time up for brave Brian

I only once met Brian Lenihan and when I did, I bought him a pint.

We were celebrating our monthly Class of '69 reunion as usual in Reilly’s Bar at the junction of Merrion Row and Merrion Street. It was about 10.00pm on a dark winter night when Brian and an advisor wandered in off the street and ordered a quiet pint. He looked spent after another long day in the office. One long day seemed to follow another in the gloomy winter of 2009 when Ireland’s economic bark began to ship water and even ladies travelling in first class with berths with balconies found the foamy sea swirling round their elegant high heels. Two of us approached the barman and asked if a round of drinks might be quietly and unobtrusively sent to Brian’s table.

Brian must have got many pints over the years from the party faithful. But we were not the party faithful. Just two ordinary citizens moved by the weary look of another human being who was punching in inhuman hours. I cannot remember if the news of his illness had become public knowledge at that time, but the bad news was well known in Dublin circles long ahead of the public announcement. Before he left, Brian enquired of the barman who had sent over the pints and the barmen pointed to the ex pupils of De La Salle Churchtown. Brian may have even spent a moment wondering if there was a Fianna Fail cumann in De La Salle Churchtown but he gave us a polite and discreet wave as he left after his second pint.

We then ploughed into our fourth pints as a vigorous debate took place as to whether the offer of drink was a political inducement or indeed even ethically acceptable. Some months later we were to meet Enda Kenny, then Leader of the Opposition in the very same pub. Enda proceeded to tell us a long and not very funny joke but to a man we were impressed by his 'down to earthness', if such a word exists and his politeness. Unfortunately I was walking the Camino de Santiago two weeks ago and out of the country so I missed the opportunity to buy HRH Queen Elizabeth a glass of sherry or even a pint of the black stuff Barack O’Bama.

During his many long months of political torture I identified with Brian more than most because he was dealing with a problem that was mainly of a Banking nature. Having worked in the industry for over twenty years I know what it is like to try and catch falling knives. That is exactly what Brian had to do on our behalf.

I am not sure if anyone could have done a better deal with the IMF and the EU but I am sure of one thing, no one could have done it with more dignity in adversity than he. Bankers quite rightly do not deserve much sympathy these days – unless they work in the local branches – in which case they are heroes – but in common with diplomats there are often times when discretion is called for and confidentiality lies at the heart of both arts.

People wrongly criticize Brian for not telling us in advance that the IMF was coming to town. The simple answer is that he could not have done so; indeed if he did he would have done great damage. I am delighted with the progress the new government has made and wish them well. It is instructive to note that they have adopted about 99% of what the previous government had suggested and realised about 1% of their election promises – but they are right on both counts and politics is a terrible game because we citizens are, by and large, feckless and we mostly deserve what we get in democracies.

Brian was a patriot in the true sense. He was a martyr and his name should be mentioned in the company of Pearse and Collins, Wolfe Tone and James Larkin. The work he did for Ireland almost certainly shortened his life and robbed his wife and family of a dear husband and a fine father. At a time when the currency of politicians is low, Brian has showed us that it is indeed possible to live and to die for your country.

May his gentle soul lie in peace. He owes me a pint in the next life.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis