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A Different View

Hard to lick loyalty – unless it’s Green Shield Stamps

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Loyalty, they say, has to be earned – it cannot be bought. But tell that to the purveyors of loyalty cards, because if you spend enough to get the stamps, everything from free coffee to cheap haircuts can be yours.

You can even get a computer for your child’s school, admittedly only if you spend the equivalent of the national debt on groceries – or if you only have a million for meat and veg, you may have to settle for a plastic football.

Clothes stores have swipe cards which give you money off if you sign up by email and continue to be inundated with special offers on runners and tee-shirts until your inbox is full to overflowing.

Indeed there’s a high price paid for loyalty in the commercial world we inhabit – the average wallet now has more loyalty cards than credit cards.

But it’s not a new phenomenon – do you remember Green Shield Stamps?

You’d get yards of them to stick into your booklet, and eventually you’d collect enough books to get a set of saucepans which would duly arrive in the post.

When all of this started back in 1958, one stamp was issued for each 6d – half a shilling – that was spent on goods, so large numbers of stamps had to be stuck into the books.

The problem was that you effectively needed to spend £12,000 to buy a TV for example – at a time when the average colour television cost around £350.

At a later stage, a second denomination was added, worth ten of the original stamps, which somewhat alleviated this problem. But you’d still have a sore tongue by the time you were finished licking for your set of delft.

Indeed – and as Michael Caine might say, not many people know this – it was the Green Shield Stamps that led to the formation of Argos.
As sales slowed, Green Shield Stamp catalogue shops began to offer part stamp redemption and part cash, for the goods in their catalogue. The proportion of cash accepted was slowly increased until the goods could be purchased, outright, without the need for any stamps.

And in time, the catalogue stores, warehouses and vehicle fleet were re-branded as Argos in July 1973.

The Green Shield Stamps actually lasted until the early nineties although they had really had their day by the early eighties – but by then everyone was in on the loyalty act.

Petrol stations bought your loyalty with other kinds of gimmicks – when Esso had an outlet across from the hospital (where Tesco is now), I can recall a coin collection of the England 1970 World Cup squad.

I wasn’t driving at the time obviously – because boys under ten years of age only do that in Tallaght – but it was the prospect of acquiring a tatty gold coin bearing the head of Bobby Moore or Peter Bonetti or Bobby Charlton that steered us, literally, to the same garage every time.

And because everything eventually turns full circle, petrol stations are back with a modern version of the old routine. Topaz has announced that it is investing €3 million into the roll-out of a new loyalty app.

So no doubt it will have bells and whistles and email alerts and bonuses and incentives and whatever you’re having yourself, and the inventors will stand back and admire their work in the way that their forefathers did when they came up with the wheel.

But the truth is that it’s just a variation on a well-worn theme – and for our generation they can try all they like, but they’ll never manage to lick Green Shield Stamps.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

One person’s useless tat is another’s stuff of dreams

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The world is divided into two kinds of people; those who like to live in a world of clean, white lines and minimal clutter – and those of us who just love accumulating stuff.

Stuff covers a multitude, which – depending on your perspective – might be alternatively defined as either the souvenirs or detritus of your life.

Books, match programmes, concert ticket stubs, seashells, Dinky cars, beer mats…it’s all stuff that one person wants to treasure and the other, invariably, wants to throw straight out in the bin.

And it’s at the core of a fair percentage of domestic differences too – ‘it’s my stuff’; ‘don’t move my stuff’; ‘your stuff is taking over the house’ – because, for every hoarder, there’s an aspiring Marie Kondo who wants to take minimalism to new heights.

Attics are invariably full of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in years; old cardboard boxes of childhood toys, suitcases packed with dusty photo albums, boxes of video cassettes for which there is no longer a VCR; clothes that you didn’t want but also didn’t want to throw out – and it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in fashion and you’ll have shed the three stone it would take to close the zipper.

Overall, it’s the kind of stuff that you hoped you’d get back to and wallow in nostalgia, years after you consigned it to the darkest recesses of the eaves.

Those who abhor clutter have a different approach, working on the basis that – if you have stuff stored in a box and you don’t open that box for three years – you don’t need that stuff anymore.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sense of belonging that brings it all back home

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was a chat with a ‘Galwegian in exile’ that brought it all home to me; although now domiciled in the capital for more years than he’d lived in the west, he was delighted to bring his Dublin-born daughter to the All-Ireland Football Final wearing her maroon jersey.

To be honest, she’d probably have gone to Croke Park dressed as Elsa from Frozen because it was just a day out – but Daddy couldn’t have been prouder if his eleven-year-old came on for Damien Comer with five minutes to go.

The sense of place is understandable when it comes to ourselves as born-and-bred Galwegians, because while you can change where you live as often as you like, even if you wanted to, you can never change where you’re from.

But trying to impose your own geographical heritage on the next generation is alternatively seen as understandable and a little selfish at the same time.

It’s a topic for discussion in our own house on occasion because while the two lads grew up in Galway, they were in fact born in Dublin – and if they want to pull my chain, all they have to do is remind of that fact.

My reply is a tired and stock one, to the effect that although Jesus was born in a stable, nobody ever suggested that made him a horse.

The more serious point is that you are shaped by your formative years rather than the maternity hospital of your arrival – and those years were spent in Galway.

Galway is their point of reference for sport and music and school friends and nights out and pubs and college – and almost everything else that really matters.

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

Gaeltacht days – and a rite of passage to remember forever

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A scholarship to Irish College wasn’t so much a backhanded compliment as an inverted acknowledgement of your grasp of the language – in other words you got one because you were bordering on useless, or to put it more diplomatically you’d benefit more than the rest from a couple of weeks of immersion in your native tongue.

Only it then transpired that the experience of three weeks in the Gaeltacht taught you that going there had a small bit to do with learning Irish for sure – but a whole lot to do with growing up, or at least beginning that blossoming process.

And you would do all this in an atmosphere as alien to your small teenage self as free elections are to the people of Russia; céilís, cispheil, comhra agus craic – as well as an Irish language version of the Streets of London written and taught to us by Art Ó Dufaigh that still lives in the memory bank, even longer than Ralph McTell’s original.

The truth, when you get there, is the realisation that three weeks in the Gaeltacht is a little like a week at the Galway Races or the Rose of Tralee; just as the horses or the Roses are ostensibly the reason for going, they’re really just the hook to get you there.

And so it is that you go to the Gaeltacht to learn the language but you come home having learned so much more.

My Gaeltacht summer was at the tail end of the seventies with three weeks in Beal a’ Dangan and céilís in Nestor’s Hall, brought there in a bus by a young man called Máirtín Tom Sheáinín who would go on to enjoy a stellar career as a broadcaster – particularly presenting Comhrá – but was back then a knacky driver with a dream, traversing windy roads in pitch darkness.

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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