I remember when I was a lad at the Academy in Dungannon, Perry Street was a busy wee street with plenty of shops.
In a fit of lunacy, our planners and councillors moved our town centres from the towns to the green field sites in the country side and called them ‘Shopping Centres.’
by the collapse of the property bubble in Ireland.
I wonder what will happen to our towns in the years to come. Shall they all become ghost towns or shall some sort of community spirit build up again and something take their place. This cannot go on indefinitely, at some stage in the future, either for safety reasons or by some kind of EU diktat, these streets shall have to be pulled down.
As usual, I would wager that the politicians shall wait to the last moment before they will try to do anything and then they shall dress it up like this new reaction to public opinion was their idea all along.
Do you recall, a few months ago Jessops closed down. Jessops was a national chain of camera shops that were excellent to deal with. I bought from them a few times and found the staff helpful and efficient.
When the stores were closing a rather sarcastic sign was put up by some of Jessops’ workers: “The Staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping at Amazon.”
What people were doing were participating in the new ‘wannabe middle class’ pursuit of “Showrooming.”
I’ll bet you that that is a new hobby that you have never heard off!
Showrooming works something like this: a couple go into a nice showroom of a shop, say Jessops or a furniture store, talk to the salesperson as if they want to buy something and find all the information they need on the product.
Then, when the couple are armed with all the facts that they need they ask the price. Let’s say for example the price is £500.
Often in front of the assistant, the couple pulled out their mobile phone to look up the price online and if it is less than £500 would say ‘thanks but no thanks,’ we can buy it cheaper online.
Perfectly legal and fine: why should ‘I’ not save a few pounds when ‘I’ can get it cheaper on the internet.
The downside is that we are becoming much more individualistic and less community orientated. However, such a trend will not continue long; but I wonder what shall emerge out of all this change that is going on.
Perhaps we shall see something that we don’t expect to see; the re-emergence of the small specialised shop such as one that has opened recently in Shropshire by a man called Peter Bird.
Peter makes bicycles to the exact measurements of the customer, a ‘bespoke’ bike to use an old term.
"One of the main reasons many people don't ride much is because their bicycles don't fit them very well. Our job is to get the fit right," says Mr Bird, who has been building bikes for 30 years.
"We make it comfortable, make it light and then add this whole thing about what it looks like. So you end up with something that is totally unique and is a joy to ride."
I recently read that there is no one in Northern Ireland left who could make a suit for a man from start to finish. Would you have any idea where to find a man who could make a pair of shoes?
The other aspect of the village that may come alive again in the future is some sort of community area. We have a lot of parochial halls etc but what is to stop us using the town centres for some of the activities that go on in these places.
Perhaps a craft club could operate from a small shop and sell their wares—online. Well the world is a big customer base!
Or even better, why not open the shops and let farmers or market gardeners use them rent free for selling their produce. They would get a fair price and we might eat better.
According to recent sales figures there is a good market in second hand guitars. A guitar that was played by a couple of blokes who have since died was recently sold in New York for a cool $408,000.
This was not any old guitar as you might imagine; it was owned by the Beatles and was used by both George Harrison and John Lennon.
But it was a bespoke guitar, made exactly to the parameters that the two men laid down. I think I shall buy it and open a second hand guitar shop in Perry Street.
Things change and things always change. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other.
The job of the politician is to know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, next week and next year. He also has to be able to say “I told you so” when it does not happen.
For example, a few years ago in Britain, faith based schools were the worst thing that ever happened to society. Good performing Church of England and Catholic Schools were demonised for promoting their faith ethos.
Much like the Free State of today, the only bad group in society were the people who believe that some sort of faith principles were important. If you read or listened to the Free State media you would think that no one ever abused a child except a Catholic priest.
“Successful Catholic schools could be enlisted to act as “sponsors” to help run community primaries and secondaries in difficult circumstances, it was revealed.
The move would reverse an existing policy that prevents Catholic schools striking up federations with non-religious counterparts as part of the Government’s academies programme.
It comes two years after the Church of England embarked on a similar path which has resulted in a number of secular schools adopting a faith “ethos” under Anglican control.
The Government said it was keen to enlist the support of a range of bodies with a good track record of running schools to help address underperformance in parts of the state system.
But secular groups warned that the move could lead to the Catholic Church imposing its faith with ‘proselytising zeal’.
Keith Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, told the Times Educational Supplement: ‘Whenever you have a merger or amalgamation of a faith and non-faith school, everything always leans towards the faith.’”
This is a long quote but it is important because it shows us several things.
The first is that yesterday’s demon can become today’s good guy.
The second is that good schools run on a firm faith ethos will win through.
The third and possibly the most surprising is that the secularists, those champions of free speech, only want free speech when the speaker says what they want him/her to say.
A secular school cannot be as good a school as a faith school in the long run, because the Christian faiths are all based on a community structure and thus the school can become a community.
A secular school cannot become a real community because secularism, by its nature, is based in individualism, ‘I shall get for me.’
What beats the poor old secularists is that parents want what is best for their children. A parent in an area with a faith based school which performs better than a secular school tends to send their child to the better school.
Even a secularist will choose what is best for their child; few people hate the idea of a Christian ethos so much that they would send their child to a second rate school just because of their beliefs.
They are trying hard to do away with Catholics and faith based schools north and south. The excuse in the north, and I use the word ‘excuse’ deliberately, is that separate education leads to sectarianism.
No way, Hosea! Our state is built upon sectarian lines; it is not the children who are bigoted but the adults. And we all can choose whether or not to be bigoted; we are responsible for our own actions.
The English want to bring back faith based education simply because it has stood the test of time whereas secularist schools don’t make the grade. David Cameron has not been on the road to Damascus like Saint Paul.
Poor Keith Wood who had to say, ‘Whenever you have a merger or amalgamation of a faith and non-faith school, everything always leans towards the faith.’
Keith is right but it’s a pity he doesn’t ask himself why.
Belief in God is natural and children have not reached that age yet where they want to justify their behaviour and found that the best way to do this is to say that there is no God. Secularism and atheism is a lifestyle choice, usually brought about by behaviour that we can’t justify so we deny any authority such as God or the church.
The phrase has come into usage as a way of saying that something is so obvious that any fool can see it.
“The son of the chairman of the Dail spending watchdog chalked up €30,000 in overtime in one year from a government job given to him by his father – even though he didn't have a desk in the department.
Andrew McGuinness was hired as a ministerial personal secretary when his father, John McGuinness, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, was junior minister in the Department of Enterprise between 2007 and 2009.
However, it is understood Andrew McGuinness focused on constituency work during that period.”
How can this happen? How can a man who does not even have a desk in an office do 30000 euros worth of overtime in the Dail?
It’s the Free State, stupid!
“Justice Minister Alan Shatter will be left to sweat over the coming days as the opposition scent blood over his failure to complete a breath test.
The minister's political future depends on the possible existence of a garda report on the incident four years ago, which would back up or contradict his version of events. Mr Shatter will be pressed to formally ask the gardai if there is any information on his own case – either on file or verbal.”
Alan Shatter claims he could not complete a breath test. Then Alan dished a bit of dirt on Mick Wallace about something that he was told by the garda that concerned Mick. Independent TD Mattie McGrath in turn pulled the above snippet out of the bag.
What would you bet that Alan Shatter’s report cannot be found or that in some way everything works out fine for the Minister of Justice?
How can we be so sure?
It’s the Free State, stupid!
These words from the European Union newspaper Euronews came a day before the summit last Thursday. The article went on:
“Those remarks came during Apple CEO Tim Cook’s appearance before the US Senate where he rejected allegations that the California-based firm was ‘sheltering’ large chunks of its earnings in so-called shell companies based in Ireland.”
Two weeks ago Google boss in the UK was pulled up about the way that Google paid their corporation tax in Ireland.
Google maintained that all UK advertising sales were finalised through its Irish office and thus was only liable for tax in that country. Some doubt was expressed about the truth of this. But then again companies are in the business of making money.....and if Paddy can come up with a new way to divest John Bull of some of his cash, who am I to complain.
What we can say is that these companies are becoming too big. In the past it was ICI, AT&T, IBM and companies like that which grew too big for their boots and eventually market forces and regulation by governments, which got fed up being bullied by men in suits with large cheque books, pulled them into line.
The same will happen again and then in a few years time some other company or group of companies will grow too big.
It’s like the schools and the education: the pendulum swings back and forth, the battle between what people want today and what they think they want tomorrow, goes on and on.
The secret of happiness is to find the constant, the things that are important, not just to us but to everyone.
And then, most of all if you want to be happy let the politicians and the secularists get on with it; they shall never beat God. They have been trying forever but they just can’t seem to get the better of him.
I wonder why....perhaps human nature and the image of God implanted in us has something to do with it!
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