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A Different View

Pocket money should have been a good lesson for life

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Whatever happened to the notion of pocket money – the fifty pence you got on a Thursday evening that had to do you for the next week?

You could splurge it all on Shoot! magazine and make the best of it until the next edition came around, or you could space it out and spend it on penny bars or liquorice pipes to dip in sherbet – the choice was entire yours.

Incidentally, if you saw someone eating white sherbet powder on the end of a black liquorice pipe now, you’d assume it they were doing serious drugs – how times have changed.

But the bottom line on pocket money was, once it was gone, it was gone – and there was no point pleading for more because you needed to but sweets of a Saturday.

The odd time, during summer, a wafer of vanilla ice cream might come your way but outside of exceptional circumstances, you budgeted for your week better than any Minister for Finance has ever managed.

Now it’s cash on demand – ‘I need money for books/football boots/a soccer match/a disco/drinks for the bus going to the soccer match/a new Playstation game’ – and the notion of saving or delaying this instant gratification is as alien as Fingers Fingleton without a fat cat pension.

Or maybe that’s just me living in a parallel universe, because recent research in the UK showed that the amount of pocket money children receive there is actually on the up – to an average of just over twelve quid, but peaking at £22 during the school holidays.

Unless they’ve started smoking at an age where it can still stunt their growth, you’d wonder what kids need £22 for – particularly when they will still tap you up for everything they need as they need it.

Of course as teenage years give way to the acne era, the money probably goes on cheap beer or Buckfast which is a horse of a whole different colour – but it might explain why the same survey showed children claiming that, on average, they need twice as much as they’re getting to meet their weekly needs.

There used to be the option of supplementing your pocket money with a part-time job – filling petrol or a few hours in a shop; if you lived in a city you might take on a paper round, or if you lived where I did in Oughterard you looked forward to May when you could catch those little Mayflys with a cheap net and flog a shoebox full of them to visiting anglers.

These days, actual jobs are hard to come by, never mind part-time posts for bored teenagers – and anyway, how will you ever progress to the next level in Call of Duty if you cannot spend the entire summer on the Playstation?

Maybe it’s the onset of middle age, but there is no notion of waiting for something to happen anymore – back in the day the anticipation of Christmas morning began sometime in November; now you can go to a toy store on December 22 and you’ll see kids getting toys three days before Santa arrives down their chimney with another full delivery.

If you were unlucky enough to be born in December, you’d find that Christmas and birthday presents eventually rolled into one – because you couldn’t expect double gratification within two weeks of each other. Now they’d be ringing Childline if you came up with that excuse.

And yet I remember the joys of pocket money because I was one of those who spent it before it burned a hole in my pocket.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Selfies mean autographs are now just a relic of the past

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When you look back through old photo albums, you realise what an occasion that family portrait used to be – best clothes, hair combed, standing to attention like soldiers off to war.

These days, we probably take more photographs in one week that our parents took in their entire lifetime, and so the sense of occasion or formality are no longer.

Now the trick is to capture those unguarded moments, where no one is posing for the picture but rather is caught unawares.

When we used to go to weddings in larger numbers, you’d find it was no longer enough to have an official photographer and videographer on hand to capture the unfolding now – now each table had a disposable camera to capture those accidental moments as well.

At least the wedding album is still a thing – even if, as ever before, its primary duty is as a door-stopper with the express purpose of gathering dust.

And the wedding video remains a great way of clearing the house of interminable guests; just stick it on and watch them reach for their coats as they suddenly ring for taxis.

Less so the days of everyone getting dressed up in best clothes again a few days after the Communion or Confirmation and going to a photography studio to pose beside the potted plant in front of the drop screen of big castle doors.

The upsurge in photography on foot of easy access has also seen another evolution – the celebrity autograph being usurped by the selfie.

There’s still a huge market for autographs of course, but it’s just no longer what young fans wait around stage doors or stadiums for – now it’s a pic on your phone with your favourite star.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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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.

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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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