Thursday 21 November 2019

This Woman's Life: Flying rashers are soon forgotten - just like our €2m promise


Onlookers celebrate the announcement that Galway would be the European Capital of Culture for 2020 Photo: PA News
Onlookers celebrate the announcement that Galway would be the European Capital of Culture for 2020 Photo: PA News

Rita Ann Higgins

Oh my God, I go to the Canary Islands for a week and what do I get when I come back? Nothing but scalding and unsettling news.

Hasn't Galway County Council only gone back on a promise to give €2m to the European City of Culture project? The promise was made last July when it was announced by the judges that Galway would be crowned Capital of Culture in 2020.

The same day, the same people - the promisers - were air-punching and jumping and making unnatural screams on the street. (Some would say, howls of delight, others would say screams of embarrassment.) The same day, people were hugging on the street. Oh my God. Give me anything but air-punching and pedestrian hugging. Hugging is for the bedroom, streets are for eating pizza and drinking out of cans. Add some back-slapping to the hugging and within the hour you turn into Sleeveen McSlaphole. What with all that unnatural affection and buffoonery, promises were made - €2m of them to be exact.

Well, as the man said, flying rashers are soon forgotten. So the €2m that was proffered on the day of jubilation is now pulled back and stuck up in the consciousness of a minor civil servant, or cross-referenced on an old computer somewhere in a stuffy office in the bowels of the county council.

Some of the reasons for the dirty double-cross were reasonable. Some would say it is no double-cross at all but only a postponed decision to cough up the €2m. One councillor was worried because some communities don't even have a playground, and €2m would buy a nice few swings and a couple of roundabouts. The roundabouts could have an Yves Saint Laurent attitude about them. A swing will always be a swing.

There was talk that the kids in the no playgrounds area spent a good chunk of every day drawing on the back of the yellow wallpaper with permanent purple markers for stimulation. Well, it beats doing wheelies up and down the spine of a three-legged lama that escaped from Coole Park.

Another councillor found the €2m hard to digest when we have potholes that would nobble a gluten-free donkey or bring a plough horse with a rare form of dermatitis to his knees. If we filled in the potholes first, slapped up a few roundabouts and took the permanent markers off the kids and gave them back their cans, wouldn't the wallpaper be in a far better state?


If that is not bad enough I met two women. Neither of them carrying two pints but both of them carrying opinions. The first woman had a frisson of indignation about the trains. She said, be afraid, be very afraid if you get on the train at Athenry and you don't pay for your ticket. Even if it's a one-way €8 fare you will be pursued through the courts, as was the case a few weeks ago.

Sixteen passengers were called - but only four turned up. It's up to Matlock now to find the 'no-shows' - the guy who owes the €36, the student who owes €19.

It'll be Matlock's job to slap a bench warrant on them. It would be easier to slap a happy face on a blobfish or an elephant seal than slap a bench warrant on one of the 'no-shows'.

Wouldn't all this pursuing through the courts and running the legs off Matlock with the bench warrants, cost a lot more that the piddling euro owed? Surely there are admin costs and solicitors' costs and the devil knows what costs involved when the legal route is pursued? Could this be why Irish Rail is bleeding from the engine out?

Next thing you know, Matlock will want a shoe grant for all the leather he is using trying to locate the 'no-shows'. Some say they are up in Nelly's room behind the wallpaper. Before you know it, Matlock No 2 will want a grant for riding the clutch while he leans out the window of his old Studebaker or his brother's Chevrolet Caprice.

As for the second woman! There was no second woman, only the first woman had a split personality and a train fixation. She loved films about trains and she would tell you so straight up. Among her favourites were Bullet to Beijing, Doctor Zhivago, Murder on the Orient Express, Night Train to Venice but right now her absolute favourite was The Taking of Pelham 123 with Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

She knew John Travolta was all badass in it but, as she said herself, if you don't feel the blood coursing through your veins occasionally, what's the point in living? She grew tired of the buzz from bingo 20 years ago. She said it let her down like a damp ham sandwich above at Knock Shrine.

She said Athenry Station would need to mind itself or it could find itself like Pelham 123, getting hijacked by a gangster called Ryder. He'd drive that train straight through the aforementioned Capital of Culture and no leather grant would save Matlock from Ryder's abominable manners.

Furthermore, it would take more than €2m to repair the old walls of Galway that date back to the 12th Century after a conversation with a runaway train.

Sunday Independent

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