how low they’re going to go, as time runs out. A bit Scroogey, I know. But I’m saving for a big gift to myself, more of which later.
I like the idea of giving what people need. But need is relative. Most basically, it’s water. Would Mammy be happy with 12 litres of Ballygowan under the tree, from me? No, but there’s many a parched villager elsewhere would. That’s another thing that always gnaws away: parallel to all the indulge-and-enjoy messages we’re hammered with, there’s the awareness of the privations felt by those stuck in the worst bits of this global village. Into ered after a Google search, earns €145,000 a year, plus health insurance, pension benefits, and a company car. His remuneration has ‘remained static since 2008’, the website (reassuringly?) notes.
Is that not rather a lot? A lot more than the little old ladies emptying the change from their purses into the buckets ever had a sniff of, that’s for sure. Or is that a sort of averagely okay wage, from the perspective of those of his managerial ilk, those of the top tier of this divided society — even if that wage comes from the effort of volunteers, and the pockets of those positively poor by comparison? Whatever, it makes me feel queasy. And it taints the whole sector: if I buy the cow for the family in Africa for my mother, will, realistically, my donations be only the equivalent of an udder? Feck it, she’s getting the hot water bottle shaped like a meerkat and a gallon of smelly lotion instead.
Finally, that special gift to myself: I’ve to get my right breast surgically adjusted to match the reconstructed one and I’m going private, in January. My basic health insurance doesn’t cover the hospital stay, but I discovered I can take that option if I pay a supplement of about €400 a night, which, as healthcare costs go, is a bargain. Ideologically, I don’t believe in this two-tier system; it feels like an institutional enshrining of societal division. BUT practically, it means, unlike in the ‘public’ system, I quickly got a confirmed date, and it won’t be cancelled due to lack of bed availability. I’ve never done the ‘private’ hospital thing before — what does it mean? Velvet sedan chairs instead of gurneys, haute cuisine instead of sad rashers and a rubber omelette, Gucci cannulas and Tommy Hilfiger bedpans? A night in a private hospital! An opportunity to see how the other half lives (and dies): that’s how I’m viewing it. Oh, Michael, I’m not going mad, am I?
Agus Nollaig shona!