Sir -- I was reading, and empathising, with the great suffering and tremendous pressure felt by my countrymen and women in your series 'The Blight of Debt', when I was quite literally struck dumb by one of the stories. I honestly could not believe 'John', the employee of an Institute of Technology. I could not believe his naivete when it came to describing how his life was terrible.
He describes how he was offered a 110 per cent mortgage on a house worth €165,000 (thereby gaining an extra €11,000 cash, presumably to furnish his home).
Now I may still be wet behind the ears and not own property, but even I know that borrowing more money than you absolutely need is a pretty stupid idea. So what if you might not have the best sofa, or the biggest fridge, for a year or two?
He goes on to describe how he is left with under €1,000 a month "to buy food, petrol, service the car, pay for repairs, the television licence and other day-to-day stuff".
With a little budgeting (and some common sense) he can surely buy his groceries for under €60 a week, as the vast majority of the country's singletons do. He can cut down on non-essential trips and walk a little more -- I actually laughed out loud when I heard him describe how he would have to live without "personal transport" and possibly exist as one of the plebs. His once-monthly Cork to Limerick trips could be accomplished easily on the bus, surely? Putting aside a small amount every week (€10 to €30) would net him more than enough to cover the servicing of his car, repair work and TV licence etc.
I was stunned into silence by his next lines. His "pursuits of yoga and meditation are also severely curtailed".
A yoga mat will set him back about €8, if he doesn't already have one, and I'm sure he can do some of the positions included. And as for meditation, how exactly is an apparent lack of cash stopping him from pulling the blinds, turning off the telly and sitting down on the carpet and meditating?
I feel sympathy for people who've lost their homes, who have no electricity and who have to go hungry so that their kids might have a breakfast.
If I could say this to John: you are a lot better off than most people, so stop whinging about the fact you were not forced to take out an unnecessarily large mortgage and are now caught with having to pay it back.
Some people are genuinely suffering.
Eamonn Thomas Gardiner,
O'Connell Avenue, Limerick