Thursday 22 March 2018

Spin on the Wheel of good fortune

There is a balance to be found between frivolous spending and hoarding all our savings, writes Victoria Mary Clarke

I ADORE all kinds of tourist attractions, and I have spent many a delightful hour on ghost tours, and bus tours, in capital cities around the world. But I am not a great one for heights.

Indeed, you couldn't pay me enough to bungee jump. So when the London Eye was launched, I was not first in the queue. I found all kinds of excuses -- the weather was too hot, the queues too long.

But the prospect of Dublin getting a 'Wheel' at the Point Village thatcan lift a person 60 metres into the sky and allow them to hover up there, looking down at the ground . . . well, this prospect excited me so much that it almost became too much bear to have to wait until it opened to the public yesterday.

But it is not the prospect of being dangled from a great height that excites me, nor is it even the scariness of looking down at the ground. It is the thought of what the Wheel represents for Ireland at this particularly sensitive moment in time. We have become accustomed to the recession, by now, and many of us have resigned ourselves to the idea that the economy is never again going to be as ebullient as it used to be.

We realise that even if one is in a position to install gold taps in the toilet, it would no longer be the done thing to discuss it in public places.

Those of us who did spend carelessly during the Tiger times have stopped giving everything away, and are instead flogging our own (and possibly also our partners) unnecessary items of clothing, as well as jewellery, books, and DVDs at car boot sales and on market stalls. I know, because I spend my weekends at Dublin's Point Village market, doing exactly this.

All my fellow stallholders in the market are excited about the Wheel. Every conversation that takes place eventually ends with the phrase: 'It will be great when the Wheel opens'.

They feel positive about it because they know that it will bring thousands of people to the neighbourhood -- people who will be spending money.

But there is more to this sense of optimism than simply the thought that the Wheel will attract customers.

Just as one can see things from an entirely new perspective when one manages to rise far enough above a situation, metaphorically speaking, the Wheel has the capacity to bring a new perspective to the economy and how we can get it moving again.

I am not an economist, but being a market trader does bring insights, even to me.

At first, when I sold off some clothes and found myself with a few quid in my hand, I wanted to hang on to it and not spend it. But then I noticed something strange. I saw that even though none of the stallholders is making a fortune at the moment, everyone seems to spend a little of what they do make at the other stalls.

I was moved by this generosity to part with some of my cash, and now I regularly buy coffees and smoothies and food and flowers and the other traders buy my clothes and books. In this way our micro-economy does not stagnate, the money is constantly in circulation.

And as the Government's highly paid economists have recently announced, this is exactly what needs to happen in the rest of the country.

It is a time to spend a little of what we have and to make sure to spend it as locally as we possibly can.

Because, as Harry Crosbie is proving, even if you are in the gutter, if you rise high enough above the ground you can still see the stars.

Sunday Independent

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