Thursday 27 October 2016

Home by the sea? It's enough to make you sick

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

Pretty as a picture: But one mother turned down a house with a sea view because her children might be seasick.
Pretty as a picture: But one mother turned down a house with a sea view because her children might be seasick.
Padraig Pearse: a 1916 satire

We have lots of scourges, epidemics and urgent crises in this country, but some are more urgent than others.

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We're constantly warned about the 'epidemic' of obesity, for example, as if being too fat for your own good was some mysterious miasma like malaria or dengue fever.

Homelessness, on the other hand, is something that concerns us all.

Unlike obesity, which is a self-inflicted condition, a worrying portion of our population operate under the very real fear that they are only one pay cheque, or one rent increase, away from having nowhere to live.

One of the more baffling scenarios is that we live in a country which simultaneously boasts thousands of empty houses in ghost estates alongside a growing homeless problem.

To the casual observer, and even the formal ones, this is something which is simply wrong and while there are plenty of arguments about supply and demand, nobody wants to see a family on the streets or kids spending their childhood couch surfing and relying on the kindness of family and friends.

But man, sometimes people do themselves no favours.

A new report from Cork (where else? I hear you cry) revealed this week that more than 40pc of houses offered to people on the social housing list have been turned down - for a variety of increasingly daft reasons.

Perhaps the best example comes from the woman who turned down a three-storey house overlooking Cork harbour because, according to Cork Council: "She was worried that looking at the sea would make her and her children sea sick."

The other excuses came thick and fast, with the emphasis on the former. One applicant turned down the offer of a free house because it was still full of dust following building work.

Another applicant turned down a house because the garden didn't have sufficient space for a trampoline, while one concerned mother refused to move into a house near a main road due to worries about her child. That might seem like the most reasonable excuse, until it was pointed out by one local official that: "All she had to do was put a lock on the gate. Her excuse wasn't legitimate". None of the excuses were, and many were probably bogus objections anyway. After all, the biggest problem with social housing is people who don't want to move out of their own area and all the support networks that offers.

Well, tough. I'm reluctant to use the phrase 'beggars can't be choosers', but what else springs to mind?

Frankly, I'd consider moving to Cork myself if it involved a free three-storey gaff with an ocean view in Cork.

If you're looking for, effectively, a free house, you don't get to pick and choose the location.

And you certainly don't get to turn one down because there is a dog next door, as one woman did.

There's a difference between the needy needy and the greedy needy. The needy needy will just be relieved to get their own postal address and a place they can call home.

The greedy needy, on the other hand, will complain because it's not their ideal home.

Well, if you want your ideal home, you have to pay for it like everyone else. When you're relying on the kindness of the State, you should take what you're offered.

So, refuse a place that's offered to you?

That's entirely your choice.

But you should be immediately removed from the waiting list and if you apply again, then you should go straight back to the bottom of the pile.

Shaming is just buzzword that means zilch...

One of the great clichés of our time is the ­concept of 'shaming.' Now, shame is not ­always a bad thing and at least shows that you might have a conscience.

But the whole point of shame is that it's something internal; that nagging feeling that you have done something wrong and you need to make amends.

In much the same way that anyone who disagrees with you isn't simply someone who disagrees but is a 'hater', anyone who is less than effusive in their praise of someone is accused of 'shaming' them. Fat shaming, thin shaming, slut shaming - that's a lot of fake shame doing the rounds.

In their latest broadside against common sense, the increasingly bonkers Guardian is demanding that something should be done about internet free speech because it fosters: "Bullying, shaming and intimidation."

I wrote about this a few weeks ago - as I'm sure you remember - when that same paper stopped having comments sections because of the slagging some of their madder writers were receiving.

But that wasn't enough - now they want someone to police Twitter, Facebook and other electronic communications media. As you might expect, the British government is behind the idea because it's in the nature of any government to want as much control over us as they can muster.

'Shaming' is one of those buzzwords which means nothing.

If you post a pic of your bum online and people don't like it, they haven't 'shamed' you, you just feel bad.

In fact, I'm thinking of coming up with a motto for this column - what's the Latin for 'get over it'?



Padraig Pearse: a 1916 satire

Are we nearly there yet? Are we nearly that?

I’m referring, of course, to the end of the 1916 celebrations which now seem to have gone on for longer than our own independence.

I can’t quite shake the impression that poor Michael D is going to need a holiday after all of this.

 After all, there is only waffle that any man, even one as adept in the beige arts of gibberish as Michael D, can spout by rote before going completely hatstand.

A welcome and much needed balance to the nonsense has already been provided by both the Rubberbandits and Irish Pictorial Weekly and now we can add Damian Corless’s latest play, Death Wish ’16 — available on Amazon — to that canon of elegant dissent.

Kicking off with an utterly deranged Pádraig Pearse suffering from severe land sickness and the scornful contempt of his colleagues, the play combines demented historical nuggets with joyous silliness as the leaders clash over everything from adopting a white flag as their new symbol (psychological warfare to confuse the Brits, you see) to the increasingly flamboyant nature of Pearse’s uniforms.

Full disclosure — Corless is an old friend, but this is the funniest thing I have read all year.

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