Sunday, March 25, 2007

So Far, So Good! with Jeffers

Well the New Year has started off good for me and I hope it continues in that direction. I had an embarrassing success with my book launch the week before Xmas; it was a sell out! That’s the good news, but part of that success was a glitch on my part. Being a greenhorn in the publishing business I hadn’t a bulls notion of how many copies to order. This has now been rectified, so if there’s anyone out there wishing to read pearls of wisdom about an Ireland that has practically vanished now’s your chance! Copies are available in Barker & Jones, Naas, Farrells Newbridge, John Joe’s and the Leinster Marts Kilcullen, Fogeraty’s, Costcutters, and Janet’s Ballymore Eustace, also the Bookstore and Tourist office in Blessington, and failing all that, a phone call to yours truly will see that you get a copy. That’s the ‘hard sell’ bit accomplished, so on to other matters.
The other day a fella asked me to give him the definition of hypocrisy. My answer was that off hand I couldn’t, but I could sure give him plenty of examples. To improve my knowledge I looked up the word hypocrite in the dictionary and here’s what it says: Hypocrite, - one who practices deception to gain one’s own ends! Now read on!
World news tells us the George W Bush is organising a final ‘surge’, (his words, not mine), in Iraq. Is this man for real? I remember when he invaded Iraq writing and saying that another Vietnam was the inevitable result. This was no great wisdom on my part; the dogs in the street were saying so. Now, he has got himself into a no win situation; this final ‘surge’ will only create more death and destruction for the peoples of Iraq and more body bags heading home to the U.S.of A. George and his cronies haven’t got over 9/11. The audacity of person or persons to bomb the homeland was and is incomprehensible to them so a scapegoat had to be found. With arrogance and ignorance and a tissue of lies they picked on Iraq. What George needs most at the moment is a large dose of humility, but unfortunately people of his arrogant calibre, don’t recognise or understand the meaning of the word. In layman’s terms we call them bullies.
So how are things on the home front? Well the hot topic at time of writing is the new Children’s Hospital and where it will eventually sit. Another government ‘stroke’ that is coming apart at the seams. I heard someone say t’other day that the shadow of our Bertie is lurking somewhere in the shadows. Don’t know if it’s true or false but you know the old saying ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ and it just happens that the Mater site lies in his constituency! The Mater site was chosen we’re told, by an expert group who undertook the task without any political interference. Ummm. Be that as it may, but listening and reading about the subject I can’t help thinking that most of the talk is about the great benefits this new hospital will be for children. No one will, or would, dispute that, but when suitability vis-à-vis ease of access and parking is mentioned, the expert or experts being questioned will veer off with arrogant waffle about how the Luas and the sometime in the future Metro will be so convenient. This begs the question; is this hospital being built for the children of Dublin or the whole country? The Luas doesn’t yet run to Kerry or Donegal! Did this ‘expert group’ do a few dry runs from places such as Dingle or Ballydehob and then try find parking when reaching base, taking note of time and effort to achieve this task, bearing in mind that an imaginary sick child is travelling with them. Any expert answers to this query will be appreciated!
Another question. Was any other location considered? Say a green site in Athlone, smack bang in the middle of Ireland and more or less equidistance no matter from where one starts. This would surely be living up to our constitution, treating all of our children equally. This simple suggestion will no doubt bring lots of negative objections from our ‘experts’ both inside and outside the medical field, for simplicity usually gets lost in a morass of convoluted thinking that today passes for planning. Mary of the Trolleys is also having a head to head with the Consultants; careful Mary there’s an election coming up and your latest tam ratings are zilch.
Liz O’Donnell PD’s gave us a spoof t’other day in one of our dailies about how well off we were, top of the league stuff and no mistake! The very same paper, different page, gave us a story about the A&E unit in Limerick’s main hospital running out of trolleys. They had to borrow trolleys from the ambulances that were delivering patients to the hospital. What would have happened if one of the ambulances got an emergency call out? Dump the last patient in, on the floor? This is all happening in a country that ‘never had it so good’ according to Liz!
Our Taoiseach gives us a good example of hypocrisy. He urges the Shinners to cosy up to the DUP and get on with forming a government, but tells us he won’t go into coalition with them should it be necessary to form the next government down here! Is there some difference between Green Shinners and Orange Shinners? The same Shinners have had a field day at their Ard Fheis, urging those pesky DUP crowd to get with it and join up to forming a government of sorts. It has taken the Shinners near enough thirty years to come to that conclusion. A classic case of the kettle calling the pot black and as good an example of hypocrisy as one can find.
And then we have those two stalwarts, Minister Cullen and the Rev Dick Roche from out Wicklow Way at either end of the spectrum shouting out the good news for all to hear. One going to spend billions on motorways crisscrossing the country spewing out tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere; the other one solving global warming in a word. His Reverence has the easy end of the stick; just sell the problem on, as I mentioned in my last article. Mind you railways did get a mention in Minister Cullen’s spiel, but they were at the bottom of the heap.
Some years ago I stood at a famous viewing spot in the Canadian Rockies; the Kicking Horse Pass, where one could view CPR trains disappearing into a tunnel, coming out the far end, then disappearing again into another tunnel, and out again only this time facing back the way they had come, then back into another tunnel and out again, this time heading in the direction it was meant to be going. Sounds convoluted I know, but the tracks had been laid in a figure of eight to overcome the steep grade. It was a clever piece of engineering done way back in the 1880’s. When tourists gather at the viewing spot the hope is that a train might pass along, then cameras are out, going click click! I was lucky; when we got out of the car we could here her coming up the line, puff, puff. She was a long one and going slow. Three locomotives; one at the front, one in the middle and a ‘pusher’ one at the rear was needed to propel the long line of wagons. I counted over a hundred boxcars each loaded with fifty tons of wheat heading for the grain terminals at Vancouver docks. A simple calculation will tell you that this one train, albeit with three engines, was doing the work of two hundred trucks or thereabouts. That’s two hundred less trucks on the highway! Do you get my drift? Minster Cullen should reverse his priorities and spend the bulk of these billions on giving the country a decent rail and bus service.
Before I close I’ll pass on a piece of advice I was given years ago, “Believe only half of what you see, and none of what you read”. Dick Jeffers.

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