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Paper prophet: Eamonn Lawlor broadcaster

With the arrival of the recession, have you cut back on any spending?

Yes, thrift with me is like dieting: a habit which is difficult to get started and which then becomes a compulsion. I am lucky to be able to cut back on spending without incurring hardship, or even serious disappointment (so far!). It is even liberating to discover that the best things in life are free, after all.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

If we are talking about luxuries, I could do without most things, but I would miss: good access to music -- CDs and/or internet radio, concerts. Likewise books -- not necessarily to own, but to read. Travel, particularly to visit people.

Do you shop in Lidl or Aldi?

Yes, both. I was lured in long before the recession, not by the prices but by the toyshop appeal: the angle grinders, garden tools and computer peripherals in the centre aisles. There was also the difference -- I used to walk in and feel I was in a suburb of Düsseldorf.

What's your worst customer service experience?

Dealing with a call centre in India, over goods that were made in Ireland and shipped to me from Ireland. It was nonsense, very unsatisfactory for me and -- I would think -- hell on earth for the bright, well-meaning (and probably over-qualified) young person at the other end.

What car do you drive and how much does it cost to fill up the petrol tank?

Volkswagen Passat; 66 litres x €1.30 = €85.80, so my normal fill is about €70. I have been watching my carbon footprint, wondering if we could manage with one car in the family. Unfortunately the answer is no, not yet.

What was your first job and salary?

Executive Officer in the Revenue Commissioners, 1972. The sheer joy of getting a payslip must have been more important than the amount, because I can't remember what I was paid: something in the lower four figures.

What would you like to achieve in business/work this year?

Despite the budgetary constraints and all the restrictions that go with them, to do it all a little better. Which just might be possible.

Do you have any family connection with business?

Not that I can think of. It is another world. I am not a coward -- quite brave in many respects and was physically courageous in younger days, when it counted -- but taking risks where money is concerned scares me stiff.

Which businessman/woman do you most admire?

Darina Allen springs to mind. I only met her once, at the farmers' market in Midleton; she was standing by a stall in the rain, counting out someone's change. In an age when so much is done with mirrors, you only have to work from a cookbook of hers for a few days to know that she is the real thing.

What was your best investment?

Not having the guts to play the stock exchange so that I had savings in cash when the markets went wallop. My lack of financial acumen paid off.

What's the biggest financial mistake you ever made?

Selling a house in the mid Eighties. I was living in Brussels, and letting out my house in Dublin. Hated being a landlord, and got out. Not clever.

Do you know what interest rate you're paying on your mortgage?


Have you switched your bank or moved your mortgage in the last couple of years?


If you won the Euromillions jackpot, what would you do with the money?

Become the anonymous backer of a huge music education project in Ireland, along the lines of the Sistema in Venezuela. Out there a quarter of a million children -- most of them from less privileged backgrounds -- attend music schools, and many thousands of them play in orchestras. It can be done.

What have you got in your wallet today?

Forty-five euro, credit cards, Luas card, too many old receipts. (When I came back to Ireland after 10 years on the Continent, I persisted in carrying the gentleman's handbag I used over there -- until it was stolen.)

If you could design your own euro note, whose face would you put on it?

Beethoven's -- because he was a hero by any reckoning: even people who don't listen to his music could be inspired by his story, by his courage. Can you imagine, though, how difficult it would be to agree in Brussels which countries' heroes got their faces on the notes? No wonder they settled for the present, completely forgettable, designs.

What would you spend more money on each year, petrol or restaurants?

Petrol. When I lived in Europe I spent a fair bit on wine and eating out, but cut back in that department when I came home and have never reached the same level of extravagance again.

Have you ever been overcharged by a bank?

Not that I know of. But would I know?

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Minor car scrapes, when I lived abroad and didn't understand their equivalent of the no-claims bonus. So far the insurance industry has made a tidy profit from me. Long may it continue to.

How much is a bag of chips?

My last bag was near midnight in Dunmanway, in July of last year. I enjoyed it, but have refrained since and I don't know what I paid.

Broadcaster Eamonn Lawlor will present the final of the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year Competition 2010 within the Lyric Concert on RTÉ lyric fm (96-99fm) on Monday October 18 between 8pm and 10pm

Sunday Independent