Blood, sweat and Christ­mas cake and Barack’s sore throat

Bray People - - OPINION - david looby david.looby@peo­ple­news.ie

THE CHRIST­MAS shop­ping sea­son be­gan in earnest this week and, liv­ing up to her good name, The Good Woman ended up shop­ping ‘ til she dropped in the name of the fam­ily and the fes­tive sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est survey from the League of Credit Unions the av­er­age we spend on all our Christ­mas presents is €600. I haven’t, Scrooge like, tot­ted up how much was spent, nor will I, be­ing of sound(ish) mind and hav­ing learned not to weigh in on mat­ters I have been weight­less on hith­erto).

Suf­ficed to say that the spirit of Dick­ens was kept alive and well and fam­ily mem­bers at home and abroad will be de­lighted with the won­der­ful gifts she man­aged to find in a short space of time on Satur­day and Sun­day, ac­com­pa­nied by a good friend, who was also get­ting in some Christ­mas shop­ping.

With all the talk of pay rises in the air (in Dublin pre­sum­ably) and the eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors all sim­u­la­ta­neously point­ing north, it’s fit­ting that the man from the North Pole is about to ar­rive.

Shop­pers have been set­ting the tills ring­ing across the county and with the ex­tra ef­fort laid on by town cham­bers of com­merce this year, it should be a bumper sea­son for busi­nesses, restau­rants, pubs etc.

Amid this fla­grant largesse it is im­por­tant to re­alise that for many the big­gest chal­lenge isn’t how much to get, it is where to get es­sen­tials like food and shel­ter, and how.

Hav­ing vis­ited Wex­ford Women’s Refuge this week on a story and wit­nessed the smil­ing faces of chil­dren stay­ing there due to cir­cum­stances beyond their con­trol, I was struck by just how im­por­tant a ser­vice the refuge of­fers. The fact that it had to close for sev­eral weeks last year shows just how bro­ken so­ci­ety is, as does the out­rage over a home­less man, Jonathan Cor­rie, dy­ing near the houses of the Oireach­tas.

The shock­ing lack of hous­ing for peo­ple in des­per­ate sit­u­a­tions like the ones I en­coun­tered, peo­ple flee­ing daily abuse, phys­i­cal, ver­bal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, what­ever, is a scan­dal, which, be­cause of the lo­ca­tion of Mr Cor­rie’s death, will not go away.

The gov­ern­ment has been get­ting it in the neck over Ir­ish Wa­ter to the point that it is lash­ing out at the troika for get­ting on its back. Now there’s a po­lit­i­cal car­toon sketch worth sketch­ing!

On a rare visit to our lo­cal Satur­day night it was the talk of the bar. Perched on a bar stool a man was philosophis­ing about the Ir­ish Wa­ter de­ba­cle bring­ing down the gov­ern­ment in hon­eyed, tri­umphant tones. ‘It would serve ‘em right,’ agreed his mate. The anger over this is­sue is pal­pa­ble and even the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ir­ish who would hand over money with­out bat­ting an eye­lid once asked for it out of guilt of hav­ing some, are start­ing to ques­tion the mer­its of a sys­tem and a pay­ment which was so poorly thought out and rushed through one would have to won­der about the mer­its of this gov­ern­ment.

But with the fes­tive sea­son upon us, other is­sues will be con­sum­ing our at­ten­tions, like Christ­mas cake.

Of the many culi­nary feats I have tried I have never at­tempted the iced Mecca that is the Christ­mas cake. Blood, sweat and tears go into it, along with the usual fruit, brandy, eggs, flour, etc.

‘It’s like giv­ing birth,’ one neigh­bour de­clared after pour­ing some more al­co­hol over it to en­sure it stayed grand.

On Sun­day the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions were pro­duced and there was great ex­cite­ment for the Whirl­wind Princess as the twin­kling lights added some magic to the house.

The Good Woman wrapped the presents for the fam­ily in Amer­ica and placed them in a neat box, which was full to the brim with good­ies, cho­co­lates, (mainly laden with booze), hand crafted gifts, curry meal sa­chets and ev­ery­thing and any­thing that they can’t get and would be home­sick for over in Amer­ica.

The next chal­lenge was the Christ­mas cards and tak­ing up my po­si­tion in the sit­tin­groom I got through them in 30 min­utes so it was nearly mid­night (as usual) by the time we were get­ting the house cleaned up for another week.

On Mon­day I dropped the par­cel off at the post of­fice, and hav­ing re­cov­ered from that I made my way into work.

I had to laugh at all the furore over Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sore throat this week. Could it be that all the gid­di­ness of the fes­tive sea­son has in­fil­trated the stone cold walls of news­rooms across the globe, prompt­ing an out­break of silly sea­soni­tis?

Ap­par­ently acid re­flux was re­spon­si­ble for the sore throat in case you were overly con­cerned.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama made head­lines across the world for hav­ing a sore throat.

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