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A Different View

Confessions of a motorist raging against the lights

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Road rage can overtake even the mildest-mannered male

There’s someone I would know well who is relatively mild-mannered – until they sit behind the wheel of a car and turn into an obnoxious git.

Our friend, in fairness, isn’t up there with Jeremy Clarkson – either behind the wheel or if he was looking for a late steak for his hotel dinner – but there’s a testosterone trigger that rears its head as soon as he lands in the driver’s seat of an ordinary family car.

It mortifies the rest of the family and in truth doesn’t make him feel all that great either – but there’s a Pavlovian gene deep inside that forces itself to the surface like a form of Tourette’s every time someone does something on the road that annoys him.

He takes these misdemeanours personally as though the Road Safety Authority has appointed him as a sort of undercover watchdog on the rules of the road.

Slow drivers, mummies in their urban tractor who pull up in the middle of the road to drop off their little darlings for school; people who don’t anticipate the green light at junctions; kind motorists who let a succession of other road users out from side roads ahead of them – they’ve all wondered who the lunatic is that’s having a mild fit behind them.

Our friend has even made hand gestures at people he knows – obviously he didn’t know that when he gesticulated and then he has to try and make it seem like a fist was actually a sort of a friendly wave.

There is no logic to any of this, and in the cold light of day he himself hate road rage drivers as much as the next man – but in fairness he’s equally not the first or last man to be transformed into a nut job as soon as they sit into the driver seat.

It doesn’t happen every day, and he does let others out ahead of him because he also depends on fellow drivers to extend him that courtesy in turn or he’d never get out of his side street.

He makes a point of letting people cross the road in front of him and he’s always watching out for children jig-acting on the footpath for fear they’d lose their balance and tumble onto the road.

But if others try to edge out ahead of him or stop for no reason in the middle of the road or spend more than five seconds responding to the traffic lights going to green, a red mist can descend in seconds.

In defence of my acquaintance, I should point out that this form of bad behaviour doesn’t involve breaking the rules of the road – indeed it is partly down to his self-appointed role as a guardian of those rules, a sort of younger version of Gay Byrne, in the first place.

He sees someone on a mobile phone and signals wildly to them that they are breaking the law; it’s not his job of course because he’s not a member of the Garda Siochana, but then the sight of a middle-aged man waving wildly can often have an even greater effect on a phone user than the boys in blue at a checkpoint.

If our driver has the right of way at a junction and someone else tries to sneak out, they will get a blast of the horn and a dagger look – a response that gives our friend some degree of misguided satisfaction that lasts for all of ten seconds at most.

He isn’t aggressive in real life but all that changes when the driver’s door closes – now he’s the king of the road and any challenge to his title will be treated with the sort of response with which Robert Mugabe used to crush domestic uprisings against him.

Our man is not alone in his role as a monitor of the motorway because he too has been on the receiving end of clenched fist or elevated digits from drivers in other cars for what they perceive as motoring mistakes on his part.

He has never got out of the car to engage with other drivers – which may be down to two reasons, the first one being that this sort of thing can quickly escalate into an incident which ends up in the District Court. The second reason is that fundamentally – and for all of the bravado behind the safety of a driver’s door – he would admit that he’s a coward at heart who would no more fight a fellow driver than he’d attempt to wrestle a lion in his lair.

In his further defence, he doesn’t get involved in speed races because that is wrong and dangerous….and anyway he doesn’t own a particularly fast car.

Perhaps back in the days of our relative youth, life was one long road rally – but safety concerns (and speed cameras) have taken that need for speed out of his arsenal.

And rightly so. It couldn’t be said that he’s a dangerous driver and he knows deep down that he shouldn’t be an aggressive one either – but there must be a Neanderthal gene still embedded deep within that rises to the surface as soon as the engine ticks over. T

hey do say that acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it but our pal has long known that bad behaviour has no place on our roads and still this driver aggression manifests itself.

I can only try and convince him of the error of his way – and I’ll be sure to see him the next time I look into the mirror.

Connacht Tribune

Exam points are not the only measure of education success

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

By now, the next batch of around 60,000 students set for third-level education are over a week into the Leaving Cert – the exam that will determine what course they attain a place in for the new academic year.

Their success – added to the performances of their class-mates – will determine their alma mater’s position in what are commonly known as the school league tables.

This is a calculation of how successful a secondary school is, based entirely on the number of its Leaving Certs it gets into third-level education.

In turn – based on this – parents will choose where to send their little bundles of joy when the time comes for them to make the transition from primary to second-level.

And it’s such an arbitrary method of determining the relative success or failure of a centre of education, because it leaves so much out of the equation.

Firstly, it means performance is entirely based on the numbers who go on to third-level, ignoring those who gain apprenticeships or go straight into the workplace.

Admittedly, that’s not a large cohort these days because Careers Guidance seems to begin and end with helping you to choose the right course, not the right career.

But more fundamentally, getting a good student to pass his or her exams and gain a place in college isn’t the ultimate test of a teacher; getting a student who is struggling with reading or writing to a level where they comfortably do both is a far better achievement for any teacher.

Bringing a student who is in danger of failing mathematics, for example, to a position where they pass their exams – but more importantly understand how it works – should be recognised in any measure of performance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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