Opinion: In the grand scheme of things most of us have few complaints
There was a power cut in our locality recently. The outage was not caused by Storm Brian or ex-Hurricane Ophelia, the power was simply turned off for a few hours to facilitate essential maintenance.
In the course of the morning, I continuously forgot I had no electricity since my laptop was working on battery. At one point, I went to fill the kettle but, of course, nothing came from the tap. I absent-mindedly tried to put bread in the toaster and wondered why the implement wouldn't accept it, and again I remembered, there was no power.
Ours was just a small outage and nothing compared to the lot of those without electricity for a week and more despite the valiant and superhuman efforts of the ESB crews. As I sat in the grey October light, I turned to ponder what the world might be like without electricity. In the course of my musings I was struck once again by how fortunate people at this end of the globe are. It isn't all that bad.
As a young lad, like many others of my kind, I would dream of being rich some-day - not stinking rich but sufficiently well-off that Paris, London and New York would be as familiar to me as Borrigone, Ballyhuppahaune or Ballynagleragh. I also had an eye for a nice car and daydreamed of walking into a main dealer, taking out my credit card and saying, "I'll have that one."
In my early days in journalism, I thought a career trajectory mirroring the likes of Andrew Neil would be mine with a lifestyle and perks that included Paris, London and New York, not to mention a range of motor cars that would give Elvis cause to drool.
But time and tide change everything and thankfully they change one's definition of good fortune. These days, I am very grateful that stories about land transactions around the country are keeping me out of mischief and putting bread (along with the occasional croissant) on the table.
Yes, the definition of good fortune is a moveable feast. What's more, I have come to realise in recent years that anyone with clean water at the turn of a tap and constant electric power at the flick of a switch is rich, and rich beyond the wildest dreams of most people on the planet. In this country, we are very fortunate on both counts. We have an efficient and effective electricity service and plenty of clean water.
Our farmers are also a fortunate lot. Many of them might dispute this with good cause, but by and large they manage to survive the bad years and thrive enough on the few good years to ensure they can stay at it. My late father was as good as anyone when it came to passionately bemoaning the plight of the farmer but very often, especially after watching the Nine O'Clock news, he'd say, "Lads, we haven't much to complain about." I thought of this recently when I read a story about farming in Sicily.