OH, the Irish and money... let’s be blunt, we just shouldn’t have it.
When we have the spare few bob, or worse, when we’re keeping up with the Jones’s, we take on a competitive insanity where the biggest and heftiest mortgage will be entered into with blind optimism and a naive belief in self-deserving notions.
“I don’t care if I never get to eat again,” they cry at the bank manager. “Just give me the massive mortgage and I’m sure it’ll all be grand.”
Maybe its a throwback from the past. I’ve heard people say that the reason that we tend to eat huge meals at a celebration and buy 14 sliced pans whenever there is an outside chance of a power cut for a day, is because somewhere, deep within us, ingrained on our psyche, is the famine, and the notion that we could starve to death at any moment without supplies fit for the tenth battalion.
Mansions built with triple-A ratings. Landscaped gardens. Chrome this and that and walk-in wardrobes you could rent out to a family of four.
Herself starts working a second job as a waitress because the interest rate has gone up by 0.2 of a percent. Himself trying to understand the Reader’s Digest DIY book as they can’t afford to employ a plumber to fix the audacious hot tub out on the back patio. The centre aisle in any German superstore you can name trawling with clueless men picking up spanner sets and gum gum at bargain prices.
Another loan is taken out to pay for the carpet in the front room — a room that you could comfortably play 5-a-side in.
The PCP loans for the two massive SUVs out the front that they’ll never actually own. A bargain at €600 per calendar month, payable from now until the end of time.
The 65-inch TV in the front room. “Oh, it’s grand,” they’ll say, “an excellent investment. I can pay it off a few euros a week, and, besides, I need it to entertain us as we can’t afford to go outside the door any more.”
What would those that have gone before us say? Those that lived happily in a two-room cottage, or a two-up, two-down if they had a very large family? What would they think about outdoor hot tubs when they saw indoor plumbing as a luxury? What would they think of ice machines when it was their only dream to have hot water coming out of their one tap?
“Best to put in two wood burning stoves as they’re easier to clean and manage,” they decide. Never mind that you’ve no time to sit in front of either of them and regularly make a beeline home to sit in front of your mother’s welcoming open fire, God bless the real thing.
After all, ‘Nil aon tinteann mar do thinteann mammy’. There you’ll sit, explaining to your father why it is that you’re going to Egypt in June when he thought there was nothing wrong with Garretstown in the drizzle when you were small.
He’s right, of course, but he doesn’t understand the new pressures. A full passport and a social media page to rival that of any world travelling journalist from the National Geographic is the sign of the life well lived, isn’t it?
What is the point of all the stress at work if you can’t go on an exotic holiday for two weeks, where you’ll put everything on credit cards and drink too much in order to forget that you can’t really pay for this trip?
The love of the land and the blessed acre has been replaced with the unnecessary conservatoried abode, most of the rooms surplus to requirements, with only the bare bit of space outside for a washing line. Oh, the social irony.
It might be a good time to have a reality check.
I’ve often thought I should have bought a plot and a caravan — OK, maybe a nice mobile home, and had the lot paid off in five years. They might have sniggered for a week or two and the phrase ‘trailer trash’ might have been flung over the wall, but at the ripe old age of 47, I really wouldn’t care.
I only wish my 25-year- old self would have agreed.
Whether we like it or not, we tend to buy what’s available, not what we need.
As we work our fingers to the bone for a house, we rarely see or have the time to enjoy life.
The wise old man down the road in his two- room homestead, with his bicycle, which has kept him as fit as a flea, leaning against the wall, counts his disposable cash with two full hands. He also turns his eyes to heaven and thanks Jesus that he doesn’t have to waste his precious time cleaning conservatory windows.
Living within your means, and cutting your cloth to measure, are phrases that got thrown out with the lino in favour of Italian terracotta tiles.
What exactly would be wrong with a caravan park?
What would be wrong with an estate of eco-friendly log cabins?
We seem to have forgotten that whether your roof is made of slate or tiles, straw or corrugated galvanise, it’ll all keep the rain out, just maybe not the notions.