I had a whole lot of stuff in my head that I wanted to write for this column about the beauty of Christmas and family and all that, and then I waited till the weekend before putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard to be more accurate).
By then, the whole thing of the thirty year rule for the releasing of government papers came out and we were bombarded with facts about 1982 that we had never heard before.
Margaret Thatcher was surprised by the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas. I wonder was she as surprised by the death of Pat Finucane?
I’ve had a good Christmas and I don’t want to spoil it by examining the selective lies that the British wish to release to the natives.
There is something beautiful about Christmas and as with all things that are beautiful it is very fragile. At the centre of it is the birth of a child. What is more fragile than a child?
image from fineartamerica.com
Like Herod, the world sees this child as a threat. Can you imagine Merkel, Cameron or Obama welcoming a child who says that you should not let people die in Greece to get your money back, that you should not kill you enemy but that you should sit down and try to understand each other, or that you should have genuine fairness in society?
Unlike the Magi who brought gifts, Merkel would ask the child if he had any gold, Cameron would seek him out with the SAS and Obama would send in a drone plane (Americans don’t like get their hands dirty).
‘Tis the last week in December and I am being very cynical. All this change in mood came about because I read the newspapers this morning. Should have stayed in bed! I shall turn my mental clock back a day and ignore all that I have read this morning. Or to put it another way, I shall start again.
image from imdb.com
Back to the Beginning
Christmas was wonderful in Casa Turlough. My son came to visit, I have eaten turkey all week and I have gone up a size in trousers. All in all a good week!
One of the highlights for me was going to see the Hobbit on the Friday before Christmas. That’s the good thing about having friends with young children; you can go to see the Hobbit and pretend that you are really taking them! The familiar voice of James Nesbitt from Coleraine playing one of the dwarves made it all the more interesting. It’s a film worth seeing.
Then there was the round of friends and relatives; some you wanted to see and some....well, you know what I mean. Seriously though, I enjoyed visiting every person I went to see this year.
An old friend of mine, a priest who is ninety two years of age, had to go into a care home for a while. Visiting him is a delight. On the days after Christmas we went to visit him and helped him to celebrate Mass in his room.
Three of us sitting around a little make shift altar on a small table, celebrating the Sacred Mysteries together, added a whole new dimension to Christmas. Even though he has only a congregation of two, my friend insists on giving a homily.
But what a homily! When you are in the presence of a man who really believes with all his heart that there is a God, who has given his whole life to the service of God and others, you feel uplifted by his faith. His faith becomes infectious.
Then you read in the paper Gracie McNulty, a ten year old girl in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, opened her dad’s cafe to give Christmas dinner to 38 homeless people. Her dad Craig had died in an accident in September and she wanted to do this in memory of him.
Gracie said: "I felt like I'd do something for someone else instead of myself... I felt I must do it for my dad."
Gracie's mother, Sharon McNulty, runs the Grilled and Filtered cafe.
Mrs McNulty said: "She's an amazing little girl, she's like her dad, just like her dad in every way shape and form, and he'd be so proud of her now. He'd love it."
image from 987fm.com
The Week’s Obituaries
A couple of good old actors died over the holidays. Quincy star, Jack Klugman, has gone to the hospital where all our ills are healed and where there are no bones to examine. Perhaps he shall be able to repair broken wings.
Quincy was a series about a medical examiner long before we were inundated with CSI shows. Klugman played the part of a passionate, caring man who always got to the bottom of the crime. Quincy was a good series for its time.
Another man whose face you probably know but whose name you would seldom hear also died over the holidays; Charles Durning played the crooked detective in “The Sting” alongside Paul Newman and Robert Redford. He also had a leading role in Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman.
The grim reaper does not take holidays. Even Stormin’ Norman could not evade his capture. Do you remember Stormin’ Norman? General Norman Schwarzkopf was the leader of the troops that invaded Iraq in 1991.
The New York Times wrote:
“Stormin’ Norman, as headlines proclaimed him, was lionized by millions of euphoric Americans who, until weeks earlier, had never heard of him. President George Bush, whose popularity soared with the war, gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Congress gave him standing ovations. Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight. European and Asian nations conferred lavish honours.
Within weeks of the end of the war, the four-star general had become a media and marketing phenomenon. Three months after the war, he signed a $5 million contract with Bantam Books for the world rights to his memoirs, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero.””
The odd invasion does a man’s image a power of good--ask St Tony of Blair or dear old Maggie.
“When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking,” Elayne Boosler, an American comedian and actress who was born in 1952, is quoted as saying. Takes a witty woman to put it all into perspective.
Some Local News
Christmas always highlights the inequality in our society. On Friday Dec 21st, hundreds queued from before dawn for food parcels at the Capuchin day centre in Dublin. While the Capuchin fathers and a few volunteers were working hard trying to feed the poor, Eamon Gilmore, a well known atheist, closer of the Vatican Embassy and long time socialist with a desire to help the poor (bankers) was nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps Eamon was round at the local St Vincent de Paul centre helping there. Eamon’s wife, Carol Hanney, has a €92,000 a year job in education. I looked carefully at the photo in the Independent to see if either of them were queuing for a food parcel but I could not see them. Socialism pays well these days!
Why do I mention Eamon Gilmore in relation to the Capuchin day centre handing out food parcels?
There is something grotesque when the leader of the Labour party in a country and his wife reap the benefits of well paid jobs without a care for the workers and whose comrades in the Dail are enforcing policies specifically designed to hurt the working people.
But in fairness to him, Eamon is an atheist and atheists believe that we are all animals, like cats and cows. And in the animal kingdom the fittest survive. So why should he care. He happens to be the fittest socialist in the jungle so he shall survive and thrive.
The good old US of A
America is an amazing country. On the one hand the politicians appear to be divided about everything and then on the other, their lawyers and court system throws up a nice surprise.
As I write this I have no idea if we shall all be jumping off a fiscal cliff or if we shall be walking the long road to recovery. I have no idea what a fiscal cliff is but according to everyone I read it is not a nice thing to fall off. There is something radically wrong in a country that goes down to the wire year after year when figuring out the budget.
And seemingly it affects us all. If the Republicans and the Democrats don’t get their act together by midnight Dec 31st then we could all be in trouble.
Then out of America comes some great news; something that could never happen here for whatever reason.
I read this in the press last week:
“Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail.
Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties say in their lawsuit, which was filed in October, that the housing foreclosure crisis was the "foreseeable and inevitable result" of big banks, such as HSBC and its American subsidiaries, aggressively pushing irresponsible loans or loans that were destined to fail. The counties say that crisis has caused them tremendous damage.
"It's not only the personal damage that was done to people in our communities," said DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader. "That has a ripple effect on our tax digest and the demand for public services in these areas."”
Why do we take it?
Imagine the small local government officers taking on the big banks. But the question remains. Why could such a thing never happen here?
We’re afraid of the banks. They treat us like dirt, basically steal our money when it suits them and we take it lying down. Over these past few years banks have been shown to be little more than criminal conspiracies. Several of the big British banks have been caught laundering money, overcharging, fiddling the interbank interest rates and a host of other dodgy goings on.
At least in the Free State the banks had the decency to buy the politicians.....although with the shower that they have down there it would not have cost much!
Isn’t it amazing that I can sit here and write about our politicians, banks, political and legal systems as if they were from a different planet, and no one in society trusts these people or institutions any longer?
In the Free State this week a serving Garda officer is under investigation for deleting penalty points for ten members of his family.
“The document also alleges that a Garda inspector in Dublin quashed six tickets for one family outside his jurisdiction without consulting the Garda who issued the penalty points,” wrote the Sunday Independent.
Are you surprised?
If we expect our politicians to tell us lies, if we expect our legal and banking systems to be corrupt what does this tell us about ourselves?
I remember at the beginning of the economic mess in the south an economist was asked about what was going on. When he insisted we were all to blame the presenter said that he had done nothing wrong. The economist replied; “We watched our politicians take brown envelopes stuffed with money and we laughed about it and voted them back in. What did we think was going to happen to the country?”
image from rte.ie
Michael Lowry was castigated by the Moriarity Tribunal for his dealings in the Esat Telecom debacle. Even though he is under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau, he is still a serving TD. In the last election, after the Tribunal had reported Lowry received 14,010 first preference votes, topping the poll. We get what we deserve.
In the British Isles we are watching our social structures disintegrate and we merrily go on our way. As long as the ATMs keep pumping out money and we’re in that top part of society that gets by nicely, we could not care less.
A social conscience is what we get when a politician is exposed. Then we pounce like vultures, sucking up everything the tabloid press writes about the politician. And if there is a beautiful woman involved we love it all the more.
Take my advice....
Go and see the Hobbit.
Christopher Lee plays Saruman. In this film he is still a good wizard but he is beginning to go over to the other side. When discussing evil with Gandalf he says that we must fight evil with force.
Gandalf the Grey replies in a soft tender voice: “We should fight evil with small acts of charity. Evil can never prevail over the hearts of good people and it can never win over acts of love.”
What a world we live in. Ireland has made an industry out of hating the Catholic Church because of the actions of some priests, but now we see the women of Ireland marching on the streets of Dublin calling for the right to kill their children in the womb and they can see nothing wrong with it.
While the north is on its knees, Sinn Fein has nothing better to do than to fight over the flying of a flag that no one gives a hoot about.
Margaret Thatcher is surprised by the invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas while her underlings were happily setting up Catholics for murder.
It could be worse. You could be Silvio Berlusconi and have to pay your ex wife 36 million euros a year. His wife, Veronica Lario, initially asked for 45 million and Silvio offered five. After a bit of bargaining they arrived at an amicable amount.
Where does a man get 36 million euros a year to give his ex wife?
2013 Predictions by Quinn
image from tradeshift.com
Oh, he’s a politician. Italy has a population of 60 million and a huge economy. Imagine if Bertie had been prime minister of that place.
So 2012 is coming to a close. What are my predictions for 2013?
Celtic shall win the Scottish Premiership, Tyrone the All Ireland and a Manchester club the English league.
The British economy shall bounce along the bottom. House prices in the New North shall decline again and we shall all feel poorer this time next year.
Enda Kenny and Eamon de Gilmore shall do the bidding of the Frauline Merkel and Comrade Hollande and punish the poor of the Republic even more. The Euro shall struggle from one crisis to another, refusing to die.
Oh, and Enda shall give Eamon the lives of our unborn for a few years in power, while all the time insisting with his wavy red hair that he is still a good Catholic lad.
Sounds a bit gloomy doesn’t it? But Gandalf is right. The little acts of charity done to our neighbour shall keep evil at bay.
We have to remember that troubled times, though difficult to live through, brings out a special good in people that we can’t even imagine. The human spirit forges on and a new understanding of society and governments will develop.
“Our God is a great God.”
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published in Observer Newspaper group, N.I.
3rd Jan '13