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A Different View

Heatwaves just bring on the worst of middle-aged rants!

Dave O'Connell

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Maybe it’s the recent heatwave that brought times past back to mind – not because we grew up in long, hot summers, but because it didn’t matter whether it was sun or showers….once the school year ended, we were outdoors until the next school year began.

First off, you got up in the morning – as opposed to the early afternoon – and once you had a breakfast inside one (one option, no menu) you were out the door and you played until your dinner and then went back out again until it got dark.

Furthermore you were uncontactable from the moment you got up until the moment you came home for dinner – and nobody worried if they hadn’t heard from you for at least eight hours.

But then this was a different era, back in the seventies (and you could equally make it the fifties or sixties) because there really were very few distractions.

Now parents have to organise play dates so that their little treasures can meet other like-minded juniors for shared sulking that they’re being made to interact with something other than the control console for a video game.

But back before Playstations, Ninetendos, X-Boxes or video games, we lived in a world where there was one television channel – hence, no need for a remote control – and even then it didn’t come on until the late afternoon and closed down after the National Anthem around 11pm – not that you’d still be up at that stage anyway.

It was the era before mobile phones too – and for many families a time before even telephones in the house.

Because the mobile still had to be invented, you couldn’t have imagined a world where you could text your friends or tweet to tell them what you were having for your dinner.

But against that, all your friends were real, actual people – not people you ‘liked’ but never met.

You made and met your friends outside, on the street, in school, on the football pitch – not via cyber space. The upside was that this ensured you’d always recognise your friends in the street.

We fell out of trees, into nettles, got hurt on football pitches and when you went home your mother dug out a plaster for your knee, not the number of a solicitor so you could sue the relevant authority.

We played cowboys and Indians with nothing more than a length of willow and a taut piece of twine; we could amuse ourselves for hours with just a tennis ball.

Truly the summer seemed to go on forever and we came home tired and ready for sleep – now we rear creatures of the night who log onto 4OD until their little eyes turn square and blue.

And while we sniggered at our parents when they used to say they grew up in more innocent times, we actually did – you rode a bike without a helmet, you travelled in cars with no baby seats, boosters or indeed seat belts – and sometimes you hung on for dear life in the back of vans with no seats at all.

Of course time doesn’t stand still and the main reason that kids seem more spoiled today is that parents spoil them; they’d settle for your time instead of your money right up to the age of 14.

Then they’d gladly pay you to avoid breathing the same air as you in public, although they are like homing pigeons when it comes to finding you for the few bob they need for a new Playstation game that is required about twenty minutes after the thing came off the presses.

The truth is that you know they wouldn’t swap places with you after all your old stories of tough times past – and the reality is that you wouldn’t swap with them either, because they were the days of our innocent youth.

Connacht Tribune

Grandparents are the glue that became unstuck during Covid

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

IT goes without saying that lockdown has been hard for everyone – with the possible exception of hermits – but few have felt it more than grandparents, confined to barracks and deprived of those hugs from the grandchildren.

Looking at them through windows may only have made it worse, because little kids don’t understand why nana and granddad won’t come out; they don’t realise they want to, more than anything in the whole world.

This pandemic has given us plenty of time to reflect; a chance to remember what is truly important and what we should cherish instead of taking for granted.

And arguably, grandparents should be on top of that list.

You’ll have heard it said that being a grandparent is like you’ve been given a second chance; an opportunity to spend time in retirement with the next generation that work deprived you of when it came to your own.

There’s also a notion espoused by some of those grandparents that you love them more than your own kids, because this time, when you’re finished playing with them, you can give them back.

I never knew any of my four grandparents, because they were all dead before I was born. My own sons never knew my parents because they too had long departed before the next generation arrived.

But thankfully they did grow up with two grandparents as an integral part of their lives – and not just minding them, which they did with a commitment for which we will be ever grateful.

The measure of success in this department is that your children see your parents as just a part of the family; there’s an easy familiarity every time they meet, just like picking up the pieces without a second thought.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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 is still full of memories even when it’s an empty nest

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

We’ve all heard the phrase – and perhaps dread the concept; the empty nest, after the fledglings take flight and you’re left rattling around in a quiet house with just memories of those days of pandemonium and noise.

The social policy-makers would tell you that this is the time to downsize; save yourself the steps of the stairs and the cleaning, and cut down on the heating bills to enjoy your autumn days in accommodation more appropriate to your reduced needs.

And from a purely economic perspective, there’s merit in that. You have a house that’s now too big for you, and others can’t find a home of any size, let alone one sufficient for a full family – but that’s only one side of the argument.

The other is that your house is your home, and not because of its size – it’s because of its location, and your familiarity with its every nook and cranny. It’s also where those fly-away chicks still see as home, even if they’re now no more than occasional visitors.

As you grow older, familiarity is more important than ever; without the beautiful distraction of children, you grow even more dependent on neighbours and your community and the facilities you know on your old doorstep.

You know how long it takes to get to the shops or to the pub; you know you to give a spare key to in case you’re out when a delivery is due – or later on, if there’s a fear you might have a fall.

Your lifetime’s treasures – except for the children – are in your home; the sort of stuff others might see as clutter, but to you they are memories of holidays or graduations or births or marriages…those glory days that marked the chapters of your family life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Authors’ pot luck – or insight into predicting a terrible future

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s eerie how some people can appear to have an ability to see into the future; forecasting an event or a phenomenon, years – sometimes even centuries – before it comes to pass.

Much was made this year of a number of books and movies that anticipated what we now know as the Coronavirus pandemic; predictions that even led to renewed interest in publications like Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year that goes back to 1722.

Edgar Allan Poe described a fictional epidemic at the centre of his short story, the Masque of the Red Death.

“No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution.”

More recently, Albert Camus’ the Plague explored the human toll of epidemics back in 1947 – and of course, the end of the world has been the subject of more movies than almost anything else.

But that’s not really suggesting they have some incredible insight into the future; Dystopian plots or backdrops are almost standard fare, and the spread of some toxin or virus is the easiest vehicle for writer’s to plot.

That doesn’t mean the reader or viewer isn’t stopped in their tracks when they come across a piece or a film that appears to have predicted the future.

One such slim volume that fulfils that brief is really just a long essay, entitled Here is New York.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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