The health service is bringing in guidelines for dying. What will they think of next? It conjures up images of a wee man going round with a notebook telling you that it is not your turn to die so you have to hold on till tomorrow when there is a slot available. God, is there nothing that we don’t want to control.
That’s the strange thing about it—in all the talk about dying there was no mention of God, the whole process was reduced to what was the proper course of action to take when a patient reached a certain point. The British ‘stiff upper lip’ was coming to the fore: “You’re dying, old chap, surely you have read the instruction manual. Now just get on with it and don’t make any fuss.”
What are we afraid off when it comes to talking about dying? It is the most important event in our lives and we don’t want to dialog about it; talk about burying your head in the sand. When I come to dying I hope there is a good crowd gathered round my bed and I get a chance to say goodbye to them all. I might even ask them if they want me to take any messages across the great divide to friends or loved ones, do they want to send a message that they still miss someone or still love someone.
But should we leave a will
Now it turns out that a woman is not allowed to do with her own money what she wants even after she is dead. I can tell you something, the ruling in England last week could have effects here. These are the basic facts as reported on the news:
Melita Jackson, who had a daughter Heather, died in 2004 and left all her £468,000 to animal charities. Her daughter fought the will and won. It turns out that when she was 17 Heather had run off with a man, who is now her husband and father of her four children. That was 27 years before old Mrs Jackson died and the mother never spoke to her daughter or grandchildren for all those 27 years.
After several court cases Heather was eventually awarded £164,000. The story then went on to say:
“Lady Justice Arden said Mrs Ilott's mother had been "unreasonable, capricious and harsh" and ruled she should receive a greater proportion of the estate. In a joint statement, the three charities, the RSPCA, the RSPB and the Blue Cross, said they were "surprised and disappointed" by the judgement.
The solicitor representing them, James Aspden from Wilsons LLP, said it was a "worrying decision for anyone who values having the freedom to choose who will receive their property when they die".
Hoorah! Shout the exogamists
And who are the exogamists, I hear you ask. Well, we have quite a few of them in our wee land and your Uncle Turlough is proud to be one of them.
An exogamists is a person who marries outside their racial, cultural or religious grouping, and I married a woman from Argentina whose first language is Spanish: sure you couldn’t be more exogamists than that, unless you married one of “them.”
Now you know rightly who “them” is; the ones that kick with the other foot or the ones with the wide space between their eyes. There are more exogamists per square mile in Norn Ireland than anywhere else in the world, and half of them have been cut off by their families, outcasts and outlaws, invited to no wedding or welcome at no funeral, they are Ireland’s answer to India’s Untouchables.
Soon all shall be revealed
The lawyers are waiting. Mr and Mrs Respectable are about to die and Miss Cut Off, the daughter who dared ‘marry out’ will come looking her fair share of the nest egg. Mr and Mrs Respectable, good upright citizens and upstanding members of the local church, are going to have their dirty linen aired in public.
Some people have all the luck. Just as David Forde, MLA and Minister for Justice, is slashing away at the Legal Aid budget, up comes this neat little court ruling that shall leave every solicitor in Norn Iron rummaging through the News Letter and Irish News to see if any exogamist’s parents have died recently. While the funeral is going on and poor Mr and Mrs Respectable are being laid to rest, the mixed married couple shall receive a visit from Quinn & Quinn, Solicitors at Law.
“Was there any estate? I hate to be hasty but these things have to be considered. You know, even if you were not mentioned in the will, there is legal precedent showing that you may be entitled to up to one third of the estate, even if your parents did not wish it,” says Mr Quinn, the junior one of course!
I would imagine that reading the result of that court case in the news, there will be many a bigoted old sod in Northern Ireland saying, “I am going to have to leave something to our Mary, even though she married one of them. Good God, and I really wanted to leave it to the Lough Neagh Eel Preservation Society and the Glens of Antrim Appreciation Society.”
Now that the Troubles are long since over, it is good to see that the solicitors will be getting the odd hand out.
When did the Troubles End?
Now, there’s a question for you all.
Personally, I count the ceasefire of 1994 or whenever, as the end of the Troubles. There was a bomb or two after that and the death of some poor people, but to all intents and purposes the Troubles have been over for twenty years.
However, our beloved Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness appears to have a much later date in mind. Last week he headed off to America to tell them all that the “institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the Irish peace process for almost two decades, are facing crisis."
Be that as it may, it is the next bit of Martin’s prognosis that I disagree with:
He repeated his call for the UK government to change its approach and ensure the institutions are "politically and economically viable and able to meet the needs of a society emerging from a long and bitter conflict".
We have to stop emerging sometime
We in Northern Ireland have become like the man whose wife left him twenty five years ago and has never shut up about it since. “Wait till ye hear what she done on me,” is his constant refrain, and he goes on to tell you how good he was to her and how she betrayed him.
He has become the classic victim.
After twenty years, Northern Ireland should long since have emerged from the Troubles. We can’t go on holding the rest of the UK to ransom just because we can’t agree on anything. Basically, and let’s be honest about it, England hands out money to Scotland, Wales and us. We may not like to admit it but without the Block Grant we would be up the Suwannee without a paddle, we are a beggar people. Northern Ireland simply is not economically viable, we can’t stand on our own two feet.
When you look at politics in the New North there appears to be an air of unreality about the whole thing: we have politicians falling over themselves and no meaningful work is being done. For some reason it calls to mind Laurel and Hardy, with one saying to the other, “Another fine mess you have got us into.”
At last a bit of Reality
Thankfully, we are not the only ones in a bit of a mess. The difference is that others are prepared to look at their mess and do something about it.
For a long time it has been obvious to all and sundry that Greece cannot pay its debt—it simply has not got the money. All along the three members of the Troika, the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, have insisted that all debt be paid. Now the IMF have broken ranks and openly said that they are getting involved in no bailout for Greece unless there is a serious write down of debt.
Reality is a strange thing. ‘If you do not deal with reality—reality will deal with you,’ is an old saying. What this means is that if you ignore what is really going on around you, there will come a point when circumstances shall force you and everyone around you to face the truth.
This is the case with the gambler, the alcoholic or the persistent liar, they run on for so long until people say, ‘enough is enough.’ That’s what is happening with Greece: the IMF is no longer prepared to take part in the bullying, murder, (for that is what it is) and humiliation of their European neighbour.
The IMF is not willing to take part in the bailout unless certain issues are addressed. Here is what the story said:
“The problem for the IMF is that its staff believe the elements so far agreed are not enough to make the Greek government's debt sustainable. Negotiations are under way and the IMF is involved. But its staff think the Eurozone governments need to give Greece debt relief.
That does not have to be in the form of explicit reductions in the outstanding debt. It could mean longer repayment terms and delays before any payments are required - so-called grace periods.”
Perhaps poor Greece is suffering from the effects of German domestic politics. We in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, know what it is like to live under what is effectively a dictator. We had Mrs Thatcher for several years. There are now serious articles being written saying that Merkel is little better and her recent attempt at comforting a young crying refugee went viral and showed her to be ‘not very sympathetic’ to say the least.
Speaking at a Forum for Young People recently, Mrs Merkel was asked by the early teenage girl if she could stay in Germany and go to university:
"I would like to go to university," says Reem, in fluent German. "It's really very hard to watch how other people can enjoy life and you yourself can't. I don't know what my future will bring."
Mrs Merkel replied that "politics can be tough", adding: "You are an extremely nice person but you also know that there are thousands and thousands of people in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon." Germany could not manage if all wanted to move there, she said.”
Merkel came across as hard hearted and arrogant. When I saw it on YouTube I was reminded of a certain lady, whose good old boys in the SAS never took a prisoner alive in Northern Ireland, preaching to use that “Murder is murder, is murder,” unless it is part of the shoot to kill policy.
Doped to the eyeballs
I was talking to a friend from Dublin at the weekend. He is one of those keen cyclists that annoys us all on a Sunday morning when they take over the roads. Anyway, he headed off to France last week to take part in a mass cycle along one of the stages of the Tour de France and on the trip he was joined by 15,000 other keen cyclists.
The upshot of it all was that of the 15,001 who sat out, less than 9,000 finished. The climbs on the mountains were simply too steep for these men who had trained all year for this one stage of the race: on good bikes, well rested and well trained, almost half of them could not finish the course, cramp being the cause of the failure of most of them.
When I listened to him I began to understand why athletes doing events such as the Tour de France feel pressurised into taking drugs. If we want superhumans what do we expect, especially if we are prepared to pay big money to see them.
“The World Anti-Doping Agency has said it is alarmed by the size and extent of "wild" doping allegations after leaked IAAF test data showed hundreds of suspect samples from athletes, including Olympic and world championship medallists.
The claims are made in reports being carried by the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WDR. Both media outlets say they have been handed leaked data relating to 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 international athletes over more than a decade. They say the data reveals "the extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes at the world's top events". (BBC)
When you bring money into sport, and athletics was an amateur sport for many years, what do you think is going to happen? I remember in 1988 Ben Johnston winning the 100m in the Olympics. I got up at 4.15am to watch the race and was delighted to see Johnson win. A week later I was heartbroken when he was disqualified for dope taking; I have never fully regained my interest in athletics.
Where there is money there is cheating.
“It’s the money, stupid!”
Saint Bill of Clinton, that illustrious man who brought us ‘emerging peace,’ had a wonderful campaign slogan in 1992 when he ran against George Bush the Elder: “It’s the economy, stupid!” Bush was riding high after his invasion of Iraq in March 1991 so Clinton had to shift the focus onto ground that he could win on; a recession in the economy gave Clinton his opening and he exploited it brilliantly, Clinton became president and we got an ‘emerging peace.’
I wonder what would have happened to us if Bush had won. Maybe he would have invaded Ireland (North) after Iraq; after all we are next in alphabetical order and we all know how precise the yanks are. I would like that, we could have the Stars and Stripes fly over City Hall, American Football played at Casement and Rounders, sorry, Baseball, played at Windsor. Eh, Windsor Park that is, not the family home of You Know Who.
Even better, we could move the 12th of July to the 4th and replace the sour looking Orangemen in sashes and bowler hats with those short skirted young girls throwing sticks in the air: sounds like a good idea to me.
Think of the money we’d save. Martin and Peter would not have to go to the US as they would already be there and we would not have to argue about welfare reform as there would be no welfare: there would be no dole, no sickness and no DLA. We would even have to pay for health.
Eh, hold on a minute. What’s wrong with being second class British!
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the editor but are the views of the writer. Any comments, please submit to