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‘Green shoots’... two little words that send shivers
up and down my spine

Green shoots. If ever there’s a phrase guaranteed to strike the fear of God into me,it’s those two words, especially when uttered by some sn ake-oil salesman of a politician whose nest has been nicely feathered with pensions courtesy of the taxpayer.

Levels of rage and the desire to go smashy-smashy with the radio are also likely to go off the scale should our optimistic friend happen to be a member of one of the parties who destroyed the country and like to pretend that the whole thing never happened. Grrrr...

Still, the notion of literal green shoots did catch my attention a couple of times in a week when the media was either consumed with the tsunami of tripe from candidates in the local and European elections or worrying about what some TV pundit thinks about female sports presenters.

The first photo to cause me to catch my breath was a shot of Detroit’s now-derelict Pontiac Silverdome.

I attended a Billy Joel gig there back in 1990 and it was used as a venue for the 1994 World Cup, but now there’s vegetation growing through the surface of the pitch and everywhere else.

In many ways the Silverdome is emblematic of how the once-prosperous city on Lake Michigan has been effectively abandoned and is on its way to being reclaimed by the prairies.

A couple of years back it was possible to buy a whole street of houses in certain areas for as little as $10,000, but even that price seems like an extravagance now as huge swathes of the place resemble the aftermath of some apocalyptic event.

Indeed, the only way we now see certain parts of the city is when they’re being used as locations by movie-makers who want to convey a sense of desolation and ruin.


Another picture that brought sci-fi images to mind was the sight of people working on allotments in North Dublin.

No, we haven’t had to resort to growing our own food, but what was really interesting was where they were situated: Belmayne.

Ah yes, if ever a supreme folly epitomised the madness of the C***** T**** era then it was this development on the Malahide Road. Launched with great fanfare, with Jamie and Louise Redknapp flown over for the launch party, this promised luxury living in a great location (mind you, Darndale was out the back but no matter) and the ads were the most jaw-dropping ever to appear in Dublin.

Giant hoardings showed model types draped over couches, sipping champagne, eating grapes provocatively and, to all intents and purposes, getting ready for a good oul orgy.

Buy in Belmayne and it’ll be like you’re at one of Caligula’s less-restrained soirees every night, was the message. And now it’s a cabbage patch. But they did look like very nice cabbages.

Mind you, there was more than enough of that class of thing going on back in the day. By my own reckoning I knew the game was well and truly up when one day I heard a radio ad encouraging people to head down to some seminar in the RDS in order to see about investment opportunities in India. India!

Good God, did we not learn anything about the curse of landlordism in our national school days, and here we were intending to lord it over some poor slum-dwellers in Mumbai.

That the madness left so many people in the doo-doo when it ended was unfortunate but madness is what it truly was.

So, when people are calling for more houses to be built and predicting signs of “green shoots2 as housing prices rise dramatically, we should be very careful. Oh, and then I hear a radio ad the other day asking “how are your investments in Budapest doing?”

Sweet Jesus, not again.