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A Different View

We’re all far too tolerant of the nanny state

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There is a terrific business opportunity out there for someone who’d like to make easy money and allow smokers to enjoy their addiction without having to gaze at the throat tumour that now graces their box of twenty fags.

How about a wrap-around box that just says 20 Major or a replica John Player Blue box, so that the smoker – who needs no reminding that they are wiped five minutes off their life every time they light up – can slip the new state-sponsored horror box into more familiar and friendly surrounds?

It’s not that I have any love for smoking, but I hate the notion of a nanny state even more.

Banning smoking in pubs was a terrific idea because it allowed us non-smokers to enjoy a pint or a meal without the fog of nicotine – and perhaps it caused a few smokers to pack in the habit as well.

But mainly it brought out the best in smokers who abided by a rule that would have been impossible to enforce without their acquiescence – and they stood in the rain or sheltered under lean-tos and then came back in from the cold.

Eventually pubs erected more permanent structures and some even put in heaters and wide-screen TVs, which suddenly meant that the smokers were outside ‘smirting’ – smoking and flirting – while us non-smokers sat inside minding the pints.

The point is that smokers knew they didn’t have the right to inflict their habit on others, so they took it outside – but it wasn’t enough for us to be spared the secondary inhalation, we now want to drive them into submission altogether.

So we’ve put a gaping tumour on the front of cigarette boxes as though the mere sight of this horror would make them realise the error of their ways after thirty years on the fags.

It’s the same nonsense that suggests we’re all driven to drink because we watch the Heineken Cup or that Liverpool fans only drink Carlsberg and Celtic fans only drink John Smith’s.

The most recent epistle – this time from the EU – bans pictures of babies on baby food, because apparently this could idealise the use of such foods, to the detriment of breast-feeding.

Because obviously parents are so shallow that, if they saw a jar with a beautiful baby on it, they’d assume that pouring gallons of that formula down their little mite’s neck until they were a shoo-in for top prize at the Bonny Baby competition.

There’s always some do-gooder who isn’t just content being miserable themselves – they also want to tell everyone else how to live their lives so we can all be miserable together.

Of course the Government has a duty to look after our health, and some of that is through education and some of it seems to be through legislation – the classic carrot and stick approach – but much of this is just an optical illusion.

They might look after our health better if they increased accessibility to hospital beds, if they tackled the spiralling cost of health insurance that is forcing so many to take a chance on giving it up, or if they slashed the layers of bureaucracy that epitomises the HSE.

The long and the short of it is that we won’t start lashing back the Heineken just because we’re watching the Heineken Cup, no more than smokers will stop smoking because there’s a stomach-churning picture on the front of the fag box.

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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