Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Very, Very, Long & Winding Road.

I think I have had the worst 24 hours since i became unemployed over 2 and a half years ago. The first year of that was spent trying to get work, as first the banking sector, then construction and then the country fell to its knees beneath banker and developer greed.
Those who just wanted a decent life for themselves and their families were left to not only suffer the fallout from that perfect storm of economic woe, but they were made pay for it for generations to come, and had to watch as the country's sovereignty was sold to the ECB and the IMF in exchange for a bailout with an unaffordable interest rate attached. All this in a time frame that would even have Americans watering at the mouth at the 'shock and awe' of it all.

The resulting political charade since Christmas played out to the nations of the world via this new form of media, The Internet, must have had onlookers wondering just what the hell was going on over here. What's been going on is only scratching the surface, but those questions have been flung to one side in the hunt for power, be it IMF-attached.
The shambles that was the 30th Dáil was finally brought to a conclusion yesterday when Brian Cowen departed political life and brought about its end. You can read his parting words here, I won't say anymore on the man, but his words ring shallow to me and I suspect to maybe a million or two more.

As Cowen was been driven to meet with the President to bring down the era, I was receiving news via e mail that really summed up all that I have learned about Ireland since the unemployment line gave me ample time to attempt to figure it out. At every point along the way lay another point, which oxomoranically was pointless, but yet it defined absurdity in its finest hour, at least when it came to Ireland.
I started this blog the same time I started my book back in August 2009, creating a character called Don Booker. I blogged away calling Ireland as I saw it, but through Booker's eyes and in his very claustrophobic world. I examined issues, mainly social stuff and gave myself the brief that at the end of the book, Don Booker would find his way to a point where he realised life was indeed meant for living.
With its completion I intended to follow up with more books and attempt to find a way to get things moving work-wise again for myself. Maybe a little initiative counts for something, somewhere, who knows? You never know when the odd Canadian newspaper editor offers you minimum wage in Vancouver or an online film geek may need help setting up an underground newsletter which he or she wants to grow into a 24-hour studio, it's residents the artistically insane among us who think of life on a level that's not measured on GDP.
So far that offer hasn't arrived so I've had to stick with the original plan of self publishing my book, starting a production company and building a non-profit artist supporting website based on satire and Independent support for artists cross sectors in Ireland. I bought the domain name for it just before Christmas.

I applied for the back-to-work Enterprise Allowance and yesterday as Brian Cowen signed his administration away I received the news that I was being refused on the grounds that my way forward was 'ultimately... still in its embryonic stage'.
Well, after spending 16 months writing a book, building a blog, setting out what I want to achieve, and all live, here, I feel i have to challenge that reasoning. Because in my view, and I know long readers of this blog know this, that decision is wrong. I have emailed the Department today to appeal it, but so far no return mail. But that's to be expected. This is Ireland.

...and it is an honourable profession. I say that with sincerity, with conviction and from experience. I have no time for the cynics who talk down or belittle people in public life.'

Those were among Brian Cowen's parting words yesterday. He, like anyone else is entitled to their opinion. Opinions vary and they vary wildly. Long has the call been from Fiánna Fail to stop talking Ireland down, all the way back to Bertie Ahern's sickening 'suicide' jibe concerning those who were warning of a collapse. I wonder does Cowen's speech writer take into account why there is even cynicism in our culture or does he have a duel role as guru so Brian Cowen can feel a little better about himself.
This blog is a record of my own attempt to keep my head above that cynicism and try and make a stand in the only way I know how. To write about the country I live in and the absolute disgraceful way it has been ran into ground so a few benefit and the rest suffer.

I may wonder at times what's it all about, but it only strengthens my resolve to make myself as self sufficient as i can in the future and hopefully work alongside those truly committed to exposing the sham of a system that has been built up in this country over time, with nothing to show for it at the end of a day, but a bankrupt country who hasn't even started to measure the social consequence fallout from that. All while Brian Cowen and his other failures can walk away with up to a quarter of a million euro pay-offs and 6-figure pensions for life. For what? Bankrupting a country? Now please tell me where anyone with a moral fibre see any justification in that? What Brian Cowen will receive in a pay off would keep a single man on social welfare payments for 25 years. Think about that?

I'm now stuck with a book that I can't sell, as I've been refused the back to work allowance. For those who don't know what that is, it's a payment given to someone so it can help them through the first two years of setting up a business. It is the same as the dole, sliding in the second year, and off it the third.
So basically anyone wanting it takes on the risk of having no finances after two years, and given the climate, that's a huge risk. But those that set up these systems would rather pay you the exact same payment to do nothing, but look for jobs that are not there. So, if you do want to stand up on your feet, call for change in Ireland and help move it forward, and want to risk all to achieve that... the powers that be don't want that. Nothing became more clear to me yesterday than that point. That's where absurdity transfers into nihilism, if one was so inclined.

It's hard to know where to go from here to be honest. All that work and planning and progressing over a time span that offered nothing, but a big black hole and all now worthless. Why even bother? I had the challenge of looking forward to finding ways of maybe selling a few books, now I can't even sell it at all.
To say I'm gutted is an understatement, if there was a measure of reason behind it maybe, but... blah!!

Who you know, not what you know. A deep rooted cronyism in all systems, the only reason that parties and Fianna Fail in particular poll anything above zero.
I read today that 1,000 people are leaving Ireland every week now for foreign shores. A Dublin artist, David Monahan is portraying the new generation who have had to leave this country like they did in convenient thirty year gaps of the '50's, the '80's and now. These stories are not carried enough. I guess all art is tragic in some small way. Part of the human condition I guess. But it strikes a cord with me. I've been abroad many times before, I thought those days were over but they now appear to be back on the agenda. What do you do when you have no where to go in your own country. Time to find people and places with an eye on the bigger picture, I think. I'll take what i've built and run my website abroad if needs be. Just have to get there first.

It's a little ironic how a character I created has so very neatly fitted in with the times. That was always going to be my biggest selling point with Don Booker. I've never promoted this blog much except on Facebook and Networked blogs. It fills in the hours of the day. I think it's time to promote it in places where the Irish group abroad. I'm to long in the tooth now to give up on what it is a person wants to stand for by giving up. It may feel like my hands are now tied, and even feels like it once felt when Don Booker was in his little claustrophobic world, but i think when you believe in something strongly enough you find a way.
I'm going to print up 50 copies of the book for family and friends who helped me write it, and for those blog readers who have been here from the early stages. The rest of the copies will be used to see can i attract the attention of a mainstream publisher again and abroad. I've tried the Irish ones.
Maybe when they see it between the covers it might make them see past the few chapters one is allowed to send when submitting. I'm going to write up a new CV and get them out there again, but i will concentrate abroad. There's nearly half a million people in this country that will tell you sending them out here is pretty much like urinating against a Donegal gale upon a cliff top.
You can take it from me that the call from those who want to be the IMF's puppets is for togetherness and positivity. You can trust me they are words, but when it comes to action, that action is not there. How anyone can call for that when putting a shutter in front of one of their own tells you you're not wanted.
People ain't stupid, they see it for themselves more and more everyday. You only have to watch the FrontLine or listen to Ray Darcy or Joe Duffy to know the political system is all wrong and the systems in place are in a sorry state. Eating up tax payers money and going no-where. Looking back through my blog last night I probably have another two books at least between it's content. One, a working class diary through the recession from hell, a diary of the World Cup and there's definitely enough material in there to have a good old swipe at politics as well. 'Embryonic?' Think what a man could do if he had a bit of advice that made some sense to adhere to. Or even a publisher.

So I'm open now to all half decent offers of work just to move life along again. Not sure where I can take my own plans since yesterday's news but I'm working on that.
I'm not motivated by money, I took a huge drop in my standard of living and well, I'm probably known best for working for free, but I'd like to get a little freedom back. Take a bit of the pressure off.
I'll be changing my sleeping habits for the near future and be more in line with the US and Canadian time zone for a while. I see the future over there. After all, I am Irish, it is what we have done time and time again. The third time it's people driven from the country by our own. I don't think previous overseers managed that!
So if there's any advice at hand, a working visa or two or just your own opinion you are welcome to comment. In the mean time I await the politicians at my door. I hope they don't mind the video camera.

As Bill Hicks once said, 'It's all a ride.'

Carpe Diem.

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