Patronal celebrations

Mar 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Perhaps in her 40s, the woman wore a pink dressing gown and fluffy slippers.  She stood at the end of a path that ran between beds of shrubs.  A walking frame stood nearby, but she seemed not to need it.

“A grand night”.

“It is”, she said. “A grand morning”.

Looking at the watch, it was after one, “It is indeed.”

Night or morning, the hospital car park showed no charity.  An hour and a half: €4.80.  It would not be good to be poor in this country.  Imagine having sat hours with someone in Accident and Emergency and having paid the €100 fee only to find you owe them another €2.40 an hour. Don’t be sick in Ireland.

The casualty waiting room had been filled with an assortment of humanity that is unique to such places.  The receptionist smiled warmly at being thanked for her help in being allowed to get in to see a friend

The air was balmy; a night when you could imagine you were not 53 degrees north of the Equator.  A packet of Rolos from a vending machine was in order; was this not our national holiday?

John Kelly on Lyric FM announced he would be with me for the next two hours, until 4.30.  A moment’s confusion before realising that the programme was just a re-broadcast of the previous afternoon.

Two youths, the worse for wear, stood on the traffic island in the middle of the Merrion Road.  There had been a crowd of them on the DART some three hours previously; affluent, middle class Southsiders, some even wearing ties, who were very drunk and very smelly.  “Hello, Father.” A combination of BO and beery breath filled the carriage and prompted a walk down the train. The next carriage was mostly empty, the reason apparent:  the floor covered in beer and recycled beer, empty cans rolling between the seats.

There should be some law insisting that young men not be allowed out after 10 pm unless accompanied by young women.  It would not make for perfect behaviour, but years of observation suggest that males behave in a more civilised manner when in female company.

The Rock Road was empty of all but the occasional taxi.  A red Mercedes taxi driver rushed past on the inside bus lane.  The bus lane was open to anyone after 7 pm, swinging in behind him meant he would be the first to arrive at any speed check.  From Blackrock through to Monkstown on green lights, it must be a record.

A walk along the water’s edge would have been great to clear the head, but there would be no guarantee of safety; no guarantee one would not end up in the water.

The lights changed to red at Mounttown, despite there not being another car in sight. Why can we simply not turn off traffic lights at night time and operate a French priority to the right system?  For that matter, why can we not turn off the countless thousands of street lights that do nothing except illuminate the way for the occasional cab?

The computer screen flickered into life; emails could wait until the morning. ‘Downturn risks Africa conflict’ declared the BBC.  Hadn’t they done pretty well with conflict during the boom years?  Another group of blokes who could do with the civilising influence of females.

Where was the sermon for the morning?

Must respond to a message sent this afternoon, or yesterday afternoon.

A Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

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  1. Happy St Pats to you to Ian, glad the sun was shining and you had the chance to walk by that water in the safety of daylight!

  2. Don’t be sick in Ireland, is right.

    That €100 charge for A&E is outrageous. The HSE recently announced that the number of people attending A&E has fallen by 5 per cent since the decision to increase the charge. I know for a fact that people are choosing to take big risks with their health (outside of GP hours) because of the costs involved. I wonder what percentage of people end-up needing expensive in-patient hospital care as a result of neglecting their health through inability to pay?

    I hope your friend survived the system okay. I’m sure your familiar face will have been welcome in the lonely chaos that is A&E.

  3. A & E is grim and the €100 charge is an insult. It is only payable by people who are already propping up the country with their taxes. A friend took her child, who had become feverish to one A & E. They sat five hours for her to be told there was no cause for concern and for her to be told that payment must be made before they left.

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