Wednesday 21 February 2018

Growing old disgracefully: Where elderly can never afford to retire

David McWilliams

David McWilliams

'The money is good and the suntan is free. You could fry an egg on the stones here, if you had an egg. And you could certainly sink a pint of Harp, if you had a pint of Harp."

Do you remember that? The classic 1980s ad for Harp produced that famous line about "Sally O' Brien and the way she might look at you." It must have some magic to stay in the public consciousness for so long. The ad, first aired in the early 1980s, spoke to an Ireland of emigration and home-sickness felt by an emigrant out in the desert on good money, but having no connection with the place.

I am writing this from the middle of a different desert. It is 107 degrees today in Arizona and visiting the Irish Centre, here in Phoenix, reminded me of the ad. It is unbearably hot and talking to the many Irish ex-pats who have rocked up here in the desert reminded me of the bloke in the ad writing a letter home lamenting the things he missed.

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