A friend of mine from Clarenbridge is an avid fisherman with his own little boat. Last week, he set out on the Good Ship Billy and went up and down the coast to enjoy the sunshine and, hopefully, catch a few fish.
He came back empty-handed. Even the mackerel seem to have disappeared — which in itself is a column for another day. But as he was sending me increasingly morose messages about how our once-famous fishing grounds have become an aquatic desert, he sent one happy note — he had found a pub in Mayo “which wasn’t ripping everyone off. I’ve finally found a place that isn’t price-gouging us!”
It says a lot about the current state of affairs that the only moment of joy on a failed fishing trip is to find a place that isn’t charging a fortune for a pint. He was certainly fortunate that he didn’t venture into an unnamed restaurant in the west of Ireland which this week found itself famous for all the wrong reasons.
People were shocked by the testimony of a man who went on radio to complain that he had been charged €10.50 for a bottle of cider. Had the restaurant made a mistake? Nope. A tenner plus change is the going rate. But those people who were so shocked obviously haven’t been paying attention to the way things have been going lately.
I had a similar experience in my favourite city centre bar recently when I was charged €9.60 for a glass of red wine. I love the place but I haven’t been back since — who can pay a tenner for a glass of red plonk?
We’re stuck in interesting times. After two years of enforced social isolation, most of us were desperate to hop on a flight and finally feel the sand in our toes. Yet the chaos at the airports has convinced many of us that it might be as easy to simply stay at home and take a break somewhere down the country. That’s the smart move. I’ve been through Dublin airport twice in the last few weeks and it was pretty hellish.
I was particularly struck by the hundreds of suitcases strewn across the concourse — each one representing someone who just had their holiday ruined. So, the solution? Stay at home.
The problem? The prices. Ten grand to rent a car for a few weeks. Three grand to book a cottage for a week. The list goes on.
In the bigger scheme of things, being charged a tenner for a bottle of cider or a glass of wine might seem the epitome of a first world problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem — gouging like this could kill our hugely valuable tourism industry.
It’s not just the locals kvetching about the mark-ups, either. English restaurant critic Jay Rayner recently visited Dublin and it seemed that half his column was devoted to the eye-watering charges he was faced with.
And let’s not forget, that’s coming from a guy who lives in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world.
We all know that the hospitality industry has been decimated by lockdown and nobody can blame any establishment for trying to make some hay while the sun shines. But they’re killing themselves.
I don’t think it’s as simple as mere avarice. I reckon a lot of the price hikes are down to desperation from establishments that are in urgent need of accruing as much income as they can — but they also run the risk of killing the golden goose. They aren’t the only guilty parties.
I’ve never driven a car — and most of the people I know reckon the world is undoubtedly a safer place for it — but the wife does and whenever she goes to the garage to fill it up, she returns ashen faced at the daily increases in fuel.
My local butcher is doing his best to keep costs down, but he openly admits that the prices he has to pay his suppliers is killing him. If he wants to maintain a viable business, he has to pass those costs on to the customer, many of whom then blame him and vow to never return.
I noticed myself yesterday when I went to my local store to pick up a few bits and pieces.
A basket of shopping that usually set me back about 40 quid came in at €68 while, thanks to the latest piece of nannying intervention from the Government, a case of my favourite tipple, Rockshore, has nearly doubled in price.
If the Government wants to be serious about tackling the cost of living crisis, then why did they hit working-class people with yet another pointless sin tax on a few cans of beer?
Wages have stagnated and inflation has rocketed — hence all the fretting about the return of ‘stagflation’ — where you no longer get a bang for your buck, but a mere whimper. I hate to be the harbinger of doom, but it’s only going to get worse and the energy crisis in Europe means that we’re going to be facing whacking bills for our heating in the winter.
Tough times ahead, people. So the only solution is to have a drink and put your worries to one side for a while. If you can afford it, that is.
I’ve never been a fan of drag queens, to put it mildly.
Frankly, in years to come, I reckon people will look back on drag and see that it wasn’t very different to the Black and White Minstrels — it’s a form of gender appropriation that is essentially the equivalent of black face and every woman I know hates them with a passion. But, each to their own and all that. It’s none of my business how people find their entertainment.
There’s a rather odd row brewing in the UK about the growing trend of having drag queens go into schools and libraries to teach kids about tolerance and inclusivity.
That’s all well and good, but some of these kiddy-friendly drag shows have been anything but kid-friendly, with many parents horrified at the material their children were being exposed to.
But a bizarre incident happened on Tuesday when police were forced to escort a drag queen out of a library when the performer was jostled and heckled by a bunch of anti-drag protesters.
I’m constantly banging on about the increasingly intolerant and censorious left, but social conservatives are just as bad.
When one woman insisted on bringing her sprog to see the drag queen, one of the protesters screamed: “I’m trying to protect your children!” Um, isn’t that the mother’s job?
As much as I don’t care for drag queens, if a parent wants to bring their child to see one, then that is entirely their own decision and it shouldn’t be up for debate.
This is one of the main problems faced by current society — everyone seems determined to get into everyone else’s business and interfere in things that don’t concern them.
I never thought I’d be defending drag queens, but these are strange days.