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A Different View

Reliving radio days behind the wheel of your car

Dave O'Connell

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There was a time – and it wasn’t that long ago – when a radio was an added extra in your new car. But then again so were seat belts, so we shouldn’t really wonder.

Now you wouldn’t even see them on a spec list because the assumption is that your new motor has a six-speaker sound system – and the seat belts are standard even for the middle passenger in the back.

But I can still recall the thrill of the first car I owned with a radio – one with buttons on it (not on the steering column) to move you from medium-wave to long-wave and two nobs to adjust the volume or change the station.

Not that there was much call for changing the stations, to be honest, because 2FM was still in its infancy and Radio Luxembourg’s range was never designed with the undulations of the west coast of Ireland in mind.

So you had a choice of about two and a half stations, which came in and out of coverage depending on your speed and height above sea level.

Half the time it sounded like someone trying to play music down a CB – Citizen Band radio or glorified walkie talkies if you’re too young to remember them – but it was the luxury of listening to music while driving that made it seem like the greatest thing since the wireless.

Next step up was a radio that had a cassette slot so that, if the two songs playing on the radio were rubbish, you could lash on a tape of the Buggles singing Video Killed the Radio Star and you were laughing all the way to your destination.

There had been a precursor to the cassette of course and the big old cars could accommodate the big old eight-track, even if it looked like you were trying to insert a book into your dashboard.

But the pre-recorded tape – or better still the C60 you copied from Larry Gogan’s Top 30 at the weekend – meant that you had the choice of what you wanted to listen to. I can still remember a brand new Mazda 323 that had a cassette facility and four speakers in the doors of the car; I sat for ages outside my house with the music on, until the neighbours thought I’d either locked myself out of the house or I had lost the power of my lower limbs.

The sound was superb, if only because the alternative was a record player with more scratches than a child dragged through a bush of thorns. We thought technology had reached its zenith.

Only it hadn’t, because the CD player was just a glimpse away over the horizon. And while initially the cost of these little silver slivers was prohibitive, they gradually came down in price to a point where the cassette was the Betamax of the audio tape world.

That said, your average car was still a distance from a CD player as standard – so improvisation was called for until technology had caught up with our insatiable demands.

They invented a set of wires – musical jump leads, if you like – that allowed you to put your portable CD player on the seat beside you, with a flex from the player attached to a fake tape that went into the cassette slot, and a charger that slipped effortlessly into the cigarette lighter.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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