Examiner Magazine, Saturday October 27
The clocks go back tonight, marking the official onset of winter. Think of it: weeks of trudging home from work in the dark, with the rain lashing down, and The Worst Budget Ever hovering over your head.
It can’t get much gloomier, can it?
Impossible as it may seem, there are loads of things to be cheerful about as we face into the bleak mid-winter and beyond. It was a struggle, but we’ve compiled a list of them.
The old favourites
With the aid of social media gurus, 2FM’s Rick O’Shea and Storyful’s Gareth O’Connor, we asked 60,000 Twitterers to suggest reasons to be cheerful this winter.
The top replies were: ‘drinking hot port by a log fire, fresh mornings, and being snowed into the pub’. There were also ‘autumn leaves, meaty casseroles, electric blankets, snuggling up, cosy cardigans and Ugg boots’ (seriously).
Facebook threw up a personal favourite: ‘waking up after December 5 and not having to listen to pre-Budget submissions on Mourning Ireland’.
Whatever you say about Ireland’s climate, you have to admit it’s consistent. Consistently awful. Remember the summer? Of course you don’t. We didn’t have one.
The worst thing about summer is the anticipation that it might turn out nice. This is followed by a feeling of overwhelming despair as you watch the barbecue float off down the garden during a cloudburst.
At least with winter, you know what you’re getting: rain and wind, with the faint possibility of snow. Expect a rubbish winter and every fine day is a bonus.
The good news is that you’ll finally get to wear those Yak Tracks you bought last year. Remember how everyone stocked up on salt and shoe grips and it failed to snow? Snow’s on the way for mid December and February, apparently.
Look on the brighter side
On December 21, New Agers will celebrate the Winter Equinox, known to the rest of us as The Shortest Day of the Year. This means that in less than two months’ time … the days start getting longer again.
Winter TV is better than Summer TV
With the exception of last summer – due to the Olympics and the soccer – mid-year telly is valium for the eyes. This is because schedulers believe we have better things to do in summer than watch TV.
As a result, we’re forced to watch repeats of repeats of repeats on TV3. ‘Ireland’s Dream Debs REVISITED’ has actually been aired twice in the past few months. RTE’s not much better, pumping out US schlock like The Mentalist the same way it used to barf up Mannix repeats.
Now winter’s here and we finally have some good TV on our screens. There’s the new series of Homeland and Grey’s Anatomy to enjoy. And Downton Abbey, among other gems.
We also have The Toy Show to look forward to. Last year, it was watched by 1,528,000 people – the highest viewership of any programme for the past 17 years.
The summer’s biggest TV draw was the Eurovision. I rest my case….
Winter clothes are nicer than summer clothes
You might not agree with that if you’re a skinny young thing who likes to wear revealing clothes. For the majority of us, however, winter attire covers up a multitude of bumps, lumps and saggy bits. Think sloppy jumpers, cosy coats and boots…
Everyone loves Hallowe’en. It’s a great excuse to dress up and get drunk at houseparties. Best of all, you can pretend “it’s all about the children” as they roam the neighbourhood demanding sweets with menaces, or setting fire to sheds.
Here’s a Handy Hallowe’en tip: steal half of your kids’ chocolate ‘trick-or-treats’. Stick them in the old Quality Street tin you keep your biscuits in and give them to someone as a Christmas present. Or back to the kids as a ‘special’ selection box.
How’s that for cheery?
The good news is that this year Christmas Eve falls on a Monday. This means that most of us will get a decent break: finishing work on Friday the 21st and not returning until Thursday the 27th. That’s if you have a job, of course.
Let’s not be glib. Christmas will be bleak, especially for families on the breadline. However, there is one positive side to it. According to the CSO, 87,100 people emigrated from Ireland between April 2011 and April 2012. Mums and dads all over the country will be looking forward to seeing their emigrant children return from abroad.
Then, after all the usual seasonal rows, they’ll be glad to see the back of them as they head off Down Under again. It’s a win-win situation.
Good news if you’re planning to emigrate:
It’s summer in Australia.
The lunatics are taking over the asylum
Ireland is taking over the EU presidency in 2013. What are the Germans up to? They don’t trust us with our own economy, but they trust us to be in charge of the EU??
Is this some cunning German plan to finally destroy Europe? Are they hoping that the Paddies will achieve what two world wars couldn’t? Possibly.
Beating Simon Cowell
Last November, @BrendaDrumm suggested doing a Twitter-sourced charity Christmas single. Her tweet went viral and, weeks later, over 100 strangers met up in Dublin to record Winter Song. It reached No 1 in the iTunes charts, keeping Cowell and Co off the top spot.
It’s happening again this year, which is brilliant news for all of us who HATE X Factor. It’s open to everyone and is an opportunity to spread a little Crimbo cheer. #twitterxmassingle
Flooding in the west
Winter’s just begun and already the floods have started. Here’s a suggestion: if there’s any repeat of 2009’s Galway floods, we should consider selling the county to the US.
Disney could reopen it as the world’s biggest water theme park and call it ‘Pirates of The Corrib’. Just joking. Sorry.
Ta siad ag teacht! Ta siad ag teacht! We may be penniless now, but next year 100s of thousands of tourists will descend on the Emerald Oisle, ready to be fleeced.
Here’s an idea: let’s seal the borders and mug them. Or if you think that’s too harsh, let’s charge them a €1,000 levy to get out again.
We’re not Greece
No matter how bad things get, we’ll never be as out-of-favour as the rioting Greeks. We Paddies don’t do rioting. We don’t have the weather for it. The closest we’ve come to a riot in recent years was the medical card protest where our grannies waved flasks of tea and umbrellas at Leinster House. For this reason alone, Europe loves us.
2013 may be the year that Greece leaves/is booted out of the Eurozone. This may not break up the Eurozone, but it will break up the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). We’ll then be known as the PIS. Lovely, isn’t it. We’ll be PIS-poor in every sense.
Angry at being told you have to pay tax on your stamp-dutied, negative-equity home? Here’s some news to cheer you up. Phil Hogan has found himself in the septic tank over a property deal.
Last week, a British tabloid revealed that Big Phil lost €100k on the sale of a D4 house he bought in 2004 with a loan from Michael Fingleton.
Now you know what it feels like, Phil.
Cardboard bikes for Christmas
We’re not making this up. An Israeli inventor has created the first bike made of cardboard. Izhar Gafni developed a process that makes it waterproof and sturdy enough to withstand the worst of the Irish winter. Best of all, it will retail for about €20 – great news for the unemployed and self-employed.
But why stop with bikes? We could use the same technology to create fold-up cardboard houses. Thinking of emigrating? Why not take your house with you? The slogan could be ‘The Cardboard Home: don’t leave home without it’.
Failing that, we could just waterproof the cardboard boxes that many will be living in come the New post-budget Year.
Cheer up, we’re all doomed
No matter how bad the December 5 budget is, it won’t be the end of the world. That takes place two weeks later. According to an ancient Mayan prophecy, the Apocalypse is going to happen on December 21.
So cheer up, come Christmas, none of us will be around any more to moan about how miserable life is.