I usually pick the brains of some lad sitting on a high stool to help me write the annual column on the Budget, but seeing as we are not allowed to seat customers at the counter, I have to write the story of Budget 2022 all by myself.
The missing barfly will agree the pubs are winners. There was no increase in the price of drink. Let us give thanks. The steadiness in the price of the pint has now had an even longer run than the Dubs’ six-in-a-row team.
The budget gifts will mean more money in people’s pockets. Most of us spend the windfall and the money circulates. Parsimony has been replaced by plenty. For the most part, this has been more of a giving budget than a taking budget.
You will read, over and over, there is something here for everyone in the audience. Has there ever been a member of a Late Late audience who won all the prizes?
Well, I found him. I wonder if the Big Winner in Budget 2022 is celebrating in the pub right now. The Big Winner is an elderly pensioner who likes a drink and is a non-smoker. He has a new baby, fair play to him, and another child under eight.
Yes, I know it’s the mother who does the hard bit such as giving birth, but there’s life after Route 66.
When the weather gets cold, the athletic father puts his feet up on the mantelpiece and toasts his toes, courtesy of the rise in the fuel allowance. He is arty. Maybe the Big Winner is a painter or a sculptor. There are big grants on the way for the arty, and rightly so.
As already stated, the price of drink has not gone up. The cigarettes are heading for nearly €1 each. Soon enough, the banks will be offering sub-prime mortgages on cartons. The Big Winner might have never reached 80 if he was a smoker. More money saved, and saved for drink. For pubs it’s drink before cigs, and if he doesn’t drive, most of the carbon tax will have passed him out.
There used to be a time in this country when disposable income meant drink money. The disposable income is mostly used nowadays to pay the bills. Still, though, the Big Winner might be able to sneak off out for a pint.
The free GP care for the under-eights means a reduction in medical expenses. The Big Winner left it late enough when it came to fathering children. Possibly he was waiting for the optimum time for becoming a parent. Is he subject to a subconscious Darwinian family planning imperative?
The children’s allowance has gone up and so has the carer’s allowance. Good news for his partner. The minister has just announced the double payment at Christmas. Well, that’s Santa taken care of for another year. Ho ho ho. Creche charges are frozen and the parental allowance has been extended by two weeks. There’s a tenner extra per school uniform and many schools will serve free hot dinners. Time to go halves in another baby?
“Ah, well, with so many savings, maybe I might try a second pint,” says the Big Winner to himself, which goes to show there is no such thing as one pint. Pints come in a minimum of two. It’s like when they stick a pair of the same product together in the supermarket as part of a two-for-one deal.
The old saying of “a bird never flew on one wing” was surely coined by a bartender.
Paschal Donohoe has just announced the Big Winner’s children are getting half-price travel to school and his old age pension goes up by €13. “Take the air of that glass, I’ll have another one.”
I hope there is at least one Big Winner. Good luck to him in the Budget Bingo.
The good news is I have just had a big win. The wage subsidy scheme will continue until April, even though there will be a lesser amount payable on a gradual basis. This subsidy will keep businesses open during the quiet months, particularly in tourist areas.
There wouldn’t be too many pubs still in business but for the government subsidies.
So maybe the Big Winner is an octogenarian publican, with the new baby, the working mother and all the other qualifying advantages pertaining thereto.
I have a few years to go yet, but I will not be fathering any children between now and then.
In the meantime, we are happy enough with our lot. Whisper it, though. The poor mouth is the traditional response to a budget, even when the news is mostly good.