Archive for December, 2010

My theories on how to rescue the Irish economy are so wondrous – if only someone would implement them – that I thought I would turn my attention to helping individuals in financial strife to improve matters in 2011.  What follows is a small selection of my tips to manage your money in the coming months.

First, reduce your energy bills.  Never mind switching electricity suppliers or turning down the thermostat.  You need big sweeping changes.  Reassess your personal hygiene norms.   Water charges are imminent so we need to adjust our habits now to prepare for this. Do you need to shower every day?  Do you need to don clean clothes daily?  Probably not. However often you shower, halve that.  If you start to lose friends over this new regime – and I’d be surprised if you didn’t – they weren’t friends in the first place.  Your compadres in filth are there for the long haul. 

There is much talk about shopping around to compare interest rates and bank charges.  Again, not sufficiently drastic.  Keep what little money you have under the mattress.  If you are posh, keep it in a biscuit tin under the bed.  Surely someone gave you a tin of Afternoon Tea for Christmas?  That’s the tin to use. And that person is a true friend.  Suggest bringing down costs further by sharing showers. 

School related expenses are very difficult for families of young children.  If you have more than one child, save money on books and uniforms by sending them to school on alternate day.  Don’t let the fact that not all your children are of the same gender inhibit this plan.  You don’t want to lay all sorts of crippling emotional baggage on your children through imposing normative gender values, do you?  Also, don’t be put off by the fact that your children don’t all attend the same school.  You want them to get out there and make new friends, don’t you? 

There is an election in the air.  Tout your vote around amongst the candidates in your constituency to see who will pay the most for it.  It succeeded the other way around for a bunch of property developers and that all worked out fine, so why not?

Get undressed, walk around a hotel naked and sue.  I have to confess that despite my vast expertise in the field of economics, I can’t fathom how this works.  Nonetheless, I hear great things about it, so all I can say is good luck. 

Recycle unwanted Christmas gifts as kindling or explosives.  There’s often a thin line.

Go and live with Eddie Hobbs.  He seems genial, I’m sure he’d take pity on you.

Start planning ahead for major festivals that require gift-giving.  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and is, by general consensus, a colossal pain in the wallet.  So split up with your loved one in late January.  Mother’s Day follows swiftly after that in March.  Fall out with your mother about a week beforehand.  If your mother is a warm and loving presence in your life, this is going to require much planning.  Map out all birthdays and other events for the year in your diary and engineer a variety of rifts.  Don’t forget to stage an emotional reunion before your own birthday.

If that seems all a bit cynical, to say nothing of involving a lot of planning, you could explore the many world religions that do not celebrate festivals such as birthdays.  One such group are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, although I can tell you as a recipient of a blood transfusion that this religion, like most others, has a downside.  Buddhists seem like a lovely bunch of people and certainly the idea of karma is very pleasing when you see the way the banks have laid waste to our public purse.  And, in addition to saving you a fortune at Christmas, converting to Buddhism opens up the possibility that you might be reincarnated as rich person. 

Turn your estate into a zombie one through a carefully planned programme of neglect, and then invite Prime Time Investigates around.  Film crews are hungry beasts, so you can do a nice line in breakfast rolls. 

Volunteer your services to your local drug dealer as a mule.  Nice job, sociable hours, opportunities to meet new people and plenty of foreign travel.  Make sure your travel vaccinations are up-to-date in case you end up in a foreign prison.  But, again, that will reduce your food bills.  And your policy of adopting poor hygiene habits will stand to you in the prison environment given that you won’t want to use the showers, even if they are free. 

Stop using your credit card.  The rate of interest is usurious.  Just reserve it for cutting cocaine in your drug den, which you will doubtless be setting up when you have proven your reliability as a drug mule. 

Explore polygamy – polygyny or polyandry, depending on your gender.  (Try both if you are confused about your sexual identity – if  for example you are a male whose mother made him wear his sister’s uniform to school.) You can save a fortune on gifts for your spouse by clubbing in with twelve others on the one present.  Ditto Valentines Day and Christmas.  Not sure how this works in practice on wedding anniversaries, but I’d imagine a degree of compromise is necessary in all facets of the polygamous lifestyle.

Yet again, more helpful tips.  Feel free to add you own.  They won’t make you popular, because outrageous parsimony and poor hygiene never do, but at this point in our national development we need drastic measures.  I can’t help but wonder what state our economy would be in if I had been consulted a few years ago when I was forecasting doom like a modern-day Cassandra.  I suspect the answer is that we’d be in actually the same mess.  But with more convicted criminals.  And smellier.


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It took thousands of years for the Swedes to develop their resourceful nonchalance with snow.  However, the Irish as a race are new to this powdery nemesis.  The current cold snap has been a steep and expensive learning curve.  So, ever helpful, I thought I’d bring my immense wisdom and rich tapestry of life experience to bear on some of the dilemmas facing people dealing with the cold weather.

First of all, old people are very vulnerable to the cold.  They feel the extremely low temperatures much more acutely and are of course at considerble risk of falling.  Most difficult, though, is that the cold weather can make them ferociously whiney.  They regard the whole thing not so much as a meteorological phenomenon but rather as a personal assault on their rights and well-bring.   If you nip round to check on an elderly neighbour, bring groceries, the newspaper and most importantly earplugs.

On the other hand, children can be utterly enchanted by the winter wonderland that is unfolding before us.  Get them outside, let them make snowmen, let them improvise sleds out of old shelving and encourage them to work out neighbourhood tensions via the medium of snowball fights.  Thus are precious childhood memories made.  You, however, will freeze to death during all this enchanting merriment, so teach your kids the early warning signs of hypothermia and go back inside the house.

Stock up your cupboards and freezer with supplies in case you are completely shut in.  Most important of all, keep cash in the house to pay the guy from the local takeaway. They’ll deliver no matter where you are.

Your bin probably won’t be lifted for weeks, so don’t dispose of anything incriminating in it.

Alcohol lowers the freezing point of water.  So ward off cold by getting drunk.

Don’t salt your front path to such an extent that there’s none of it left for the aforementioned takeaway.  Civic-mindedness has its limits.

If you see someone advancing on what you know to be a very treacherous patch of ice, shout out a helpful warning.  Then discreetly film the whole thing and upload it to YouTube.  No need to be selfish with these comedy moments. I believe it was Andy Warhol who said that in the future everyone would embarrass themselves on YouTube for fifteen minutes.  (It’s possible that I’m paraphrasing)

Be a total wagon by talking to everyone about your forthcoming sun holiday.  (They don’t know need to know that you mean a week in a caravan in Clogherhead.)

If you fall, and are lucky not to end up on the Internet, do embellish the saga.  Everyone else has a sob story about the snow (see above re: our lack of resourceful nonchalance) so you might as well join in.

Don’t begin every conversation by telling the person it’s cold.  Unless you are speaking to a cadaver, they know this already.

If you drop your cocaine in the snow, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye.  Ditto an open Sherbet DibDab or an open box of Persil.  And try not to confuse the three.




Bookmark this one, you’ll want to back to it next year.  And, if the forecasters are to be believed, the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that.  See?  Helpful!

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