The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A BIT IRISH (by Medbh Gillard)

"Now this is what I really call a mid life crisis... I'm going bald. And I've started to look like Hitler!"


footballers cheer a score
pat carroll shoots rabbits in the gloom
children steal crab apples
and farmer byrne calls the cattle home

perhaps this chaotic place
is not kilcullen in the present time
but a dusty frontier town
at the heart of ancient palestine

the sounds dissolve
into a muted half felt bliss
fluted by fond memory
and a strange provincial holiness

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

what me worry

(rambling about the financial crisis)

Let me be clear.
Capitalism is not the free world.
Capitalism is a term devised by Marxists to describe what they thought were the worst aspects of our freedom.
We should never let any corporation or bank or computer company pose as the embodiment of our freedom.
Crises for large corporations are not crises for the free world.
Our freedom will endure and grow as long as we continue to elect our governments, to uphold Christian values, to promote small businesses, to permit citizens to own their own property and their own lives, to raise our children with dignity, to be polite to each other in the streets, to contribute directly to each other with charitable hearts, and to care about each other as a community.
As long as these fundamentals are a part of our culture, the fate of soulless corporatist entities is not going to matter.

The banks are collapsing for the following reasons.
The banks have gouged their customers by imposing charges that never existed twenty years ago. These charges have been imposed gradually for such arcane services as checking the balance in your account, withdrawing your own money from your account, lodging your own money to your account, paying a bill with your own money from your own account, and so on.
The banks have established a business model for profits which depended on facilitating the creation of overcharged credit card accounts for people they knew would go into debt, and then fining those customers punitively for running up the expected debts on those accounts. The deliberate creation of bad debts by the banking industry has fundamentally damaged whatever trust the general public ever entertained for the banks. The deliberate attempt to continually impose fines on customers for bad debts the banks hoped those customers would incur, has in fact shattered the integrity of the banker/customer relationship.
And of course the banks and mortgage companies have thrown people out of their homes.
This practice has shattered the fundamental decency which hitherto distinguished business relationships conducted in the Christian world.

The collapse of corporations like Lehman Brothers is a tragedy for those who work for those corporations. God bless those people. I've been unemployed for the past ten months. It's not a lot of fun. But let me say again. The collapse of a bank, or ten banks, need not be a tragedy for our society as a whole. All of us, employed and unemployed are in this together. And Jesus is real.

In future we will have smaller banks. In future we will have banks where managers and staff know their customers. Not just the rich ones. All their customers. And they'll treat us with respect Goddamit. Or they'll go bust. That's the lesson for the day.

I repeat.
The collapse of banks is not a crisis for the free world.

The free world is more than the banks.
The free world is built on the Christian traditions of our countries. The free world is built on our respect for the citizens and our ascription of rights to those citizens. The free world is built on the participatory nature of our societies.
We allow the banks, the corporations and the super rich, to exist.
But they are a by product of our freedoms.
We allow them.
But they are in many ways an improperly advantaged excrescence from our freedoms.
They have not behaved well with the power we have allowed them.
And they are not the free world.
The banks have mistreated their customers for many years. They have operated illegal cartels. (Cartels = the banks getting together to simultaneously adopt non competitive policies, destroying the possibility of real customer choice.)
They have behaved abysmally towards customers and have propagated a grasping value system that is in direct contravention of the decency that underlies the free world, our traditions of innovation, small businesses, community values, and democracy.
Our tradition of not throwing your neighbour out of his house when he's short of money.
The tradition of helping each other.
The tradition of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The super rich banking corporations have trahaised every one of these traditions.
They're going down.
We don't have to go with them.
We have to know that a small business culture based on values is the hallmark of our societies.
We have to know we can manage without Big Daddy Warbucks.

We should not allow our governments to continually bail out companies that mistreat their customers.

What are the other symptoms of this supposed international financial crisis?
A fall in the price of oil.
Here is the news.
The price of oil is falling because many of us are now buying less oil.
This hasn't happened by accident.
Oil companies have been gouging the general public. Now we the general public are reducing the amount of oil we buy.
After the huge price rises of the past year many of us began putting half a tank of petrol in our cars instead of a full tank.
Many of us are cutting back on at least two car journeys per week.
We're finding a way.
And you know it's not just the oil companies who make excessive profits when we put petrol in our vehicles.
Remember. Every time you halve the amount of gas you put in your car, you're halving the amount of revenue that goes to terrorist sponsoring Arab regimes. Just think about it. It's a thought that can really motivate.
We must never again allow the oil companies to present their difficulties as a crisis for the free world. Let's use less and less oil. Let's find a way. There is no crisis for us when oil companies collapse. Let em go. The small business person will take up the slack.

Another symptom of this supposed collapse?
The fall in prices on the Stock Exchanges of Ireland, Britain, Australia and America. (ie the free world.)
Every financial newspaper, every financial page, every financial satellite television channel, is in effect a perpetual advertisement for stocks and shares.
You will not hear my style of critical analysis on any of these journalistic entities operated by shills for the Stock Exchange.
Let me be clear.
The Stock Exchange is in a state of massive dysfunction. No one ever found a way to make Stock Exchange companies truly accountable to their share holders. No one has ever found a way of creating real share holder democracy. The Boards of Stock Exchange quoted companies continue to vote themselves ridiculous pay rises and free shares. The process by which the Boards of Stock Exchange quoted companies have given themselves free money and free shares has in my view fundamentally damaged the integrity of share values. No one should buy them. They're worth nothing.
The recently announced pay package of a hundred million dollars for the head honcho at the New York Stock Exchange is worth considering.
I would put it to you: Any company that pays a man this dysfunctional amount of money, is no place for us little guys to be investing our hard earned cash.
I would suggest that the New York Stock Exchange will never recover from the blow to its integrity that a pay package of this sort represents to most of us.
Don't give em your money.
Buy a boat.
Open a lemonade stand.
Start a blog.
Dammit all.
These bast--ds don't deserve your money.
A hundred million quid and he's such an important fellow.
Look at the state of the New York Stock Exchange.
Ask yourself why!
But the Stock Exchange is not our freedom. The Stock Exchange is not our quality of life.
A crisis for the Stock Exchange need not be a crisis for the free world.
If New Yorkers were polite to people, and stopped overcharging for taxis and hotels, they'd make more money in a week from tourism than they do in a whole year from the fake bubble economy generated by the Stock Exchange.
(Sideswipe Memo to Officer Savanelli at Boston Airport: When you're rude to an Irish visitor to America, you're putting America out of business. You low life scruff.)
We need a little act of faith here people.
We're all going to learn to manage with less.
We're all going to learn to create our own opportunities.
We're all going to learn to uphold our own freedoms.
Together we can.
We can manage without the Stock Exchange, the oil companies, Alitalia, the banks, Independent Newspapers, Rupert Murdoch, and certainly without my old friends at the Johnston Press.
Folks we can do it.
The way to own your own company is to set one up. Forget the Stock Exchange.
It's going down.
The fate of the Stock Exchange is not linked to the fate of the free world.
Their crisis is not our crisis.

Let's look at some cases.

Alitalia is going bust because an air hostess was rude to me five years. No really. You may be sure she was being rude to someone every day since then. But the Italian government has been accustomed to giving free money to its more incompetent corporations. They have delayed the inevitable.
Alitalia's demise should not be seen as a crisis for the free world. It's a rectification. It's about bloody time.
Ditto Aer Lingus, the Irish carrier.
Dreadful people.
Time they started to work for a living.

Rupert Murdoch's media corporation will go bust because the pornographic films carried on its channels offend me. Mr Murdoch currently has an ad running on his Sky satellite system. The ad says: "Worried about what the kids will watch? Switch on Parental Control. It only takes a minute." My reply to this ad runs thusly: "Hey Rupert. Where do I find a satellite service provider who turns his nose up at dealing with porn barons? Where can I get a satellite service provider who will not broadcast images that debase woman and contribute to the derangement of male sexuality? Hey Bollicky. Where do I sign up for that?" Rupert Murdoch's media corporation will cease to exist as soon as the free world has a Christian conversion. It'll happen soon. We shouldn't consider it a crisis.
(Footnote: Rupert owns the anodyne left wing British based Sky News as well as the anodyne right wing American based Fox News. Neither should be considered moral entities.)

When the Johnston Press newspaper group goes bust it will be because I was fired from the Leinster Leader three weeks before Christmas.

If a whole host of banking corporations go bust it will be because I am worried they have attempted to devolve limitless power to themselves. Yes, it's that personal. A bank in Britain launched an advertising campaign several years ago with the slogan: "Let's sort out money." Many of us thought the bank was testing the waters on trying to promote a cashless society. We suspected this particular bank and others wanted to introduce a system that would compel the public to conduct all transactions without money. In such circumstances very single purchase would take place through a bank card. Apparently feedback from this campaign convinced the bank in question to bide its time. This week bank shares are being dumped on markets all over the world. Can you imagine the situation the general public would be in now, if we'd allowed this bank or any other to do away with money, so that all of us needed to use one of their bank cards for even the most basic transaction? Guess who'd be paying for the banks' current financial woes. We all would.

If Allied Irish Banks goes bust it will be because I don't like the manners of some of their staff. And it will be because a few years ago a market trader called Rusnak somehow lost 600 million quid of Allied Irish Banks money. He and the bank claimed the money was lost in financial trading investment transactions. Around the same period Allied Irish Banks board member Lochlainn Quinn was able to buy a vineyard in France for thirty million quid. I am not suggesting Lochlainn Quinn had anything to do with Mr Rusnak's shenanigans. I am suggesting that I think Allied Irish Bank was paying Lochlainn Quinn too much money, if while Lochlainn Quinn was a board member of the bank, Mr Rusnak could steal or gamble or waste 600 million quid. What exactly do board members do for their vineyard money? At what point do they become accountable? The answer to this last question is never. Except when reality kicks in. When there's a reality check, banks that allow their rogue traders to mislay 600 million quid, often go bust. We shouldn't think of it as a tragedy if they do. Certainly if such a collapse becomes imminent, the Irish government should not bail out Allied Irish Banks for the second time in thirty years.

When Tony O'Reilly's hideously sneeringly anti Catholic Independent Newspapers goes bust it will be because his newspapers offend me. And they will go bust once the Irish government has ceased to prop them up with Health Board advertising. They've survived without readers for twenty years. But many of us who boycotted them were financing them anyway as the government handed over our tax dollars for these hugely expensive ads. The free money routine is coming to an end. Goodbye Tony.
Ditto The Irish Times.
Ditto the Irish monopoly State broadcaster RTE.
Fare ye well.
The collapse of aspirant feudal monopoly corporations is not a crisis for the world. It's not even a crisis for Ireland.
Let em go.

The point I'm making is that these grotesque corporate entities have been sneering at all of us for too long. When an anonymous porcine clype at the Johston Press fires one of us three weeks before Christmas, he's firing all of us three weeks before Christmas. When an air hostess or a bank clerk or a journalist is rude to one of us, they're being rude to all of us. And let's face it. Not many of us feel too positively towards the banks. They have regarded us as farm animals and have attempted to arrogate to themselves a near feudal lien over our society. They have devised a work culture of contempt for the general public. This is the sole reason any of them are going bust.

There is no crisis.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

vote mccain or you are a clodpoll

Morning at the Chateau de Healy.
Two brothers breaking bread in the kitchen.
"Your jaw is getting smaller again," said Doctor Barn conversationally.
For the past week I've had two bulbous swellings on either side of my face.
They might have been swollen glands.
Or else I'd become so partisan with regard to the American elections that I was metamorphosing into John McCain.
(Metamorphasising? - Ed note.)
Various family members have up to now been quite persistent in denying they could see any swelling at all.
"So you noticed them did you?" I asked the Doctor.
"Hoo yeah."
"Were they very noticeable?"
"They were."
"Why didn't you tell me at the time?"
"I didn't want you to get self concscious."
The noble Heelers favoured his brother with a Paddington bear stare.
"So why are you telling me now?" quoth me.
"We owe it to ourselves to live a little," grinned the goodish doctor.
And there our story ends.

Monday, September 15, 2008

a light hearted interlude

Coffee with the Perfect Fit at the foodcourt in the Stephens Green Centre in Dublin.
The Perfect Fit is a Spanishy who's been on my books for a while now.
We are sitting at a window table.
The little Muslim waitress Privya is glaring at us prettily from behind the counter.
Okay, okay.
Glaring at me.
Ah she's a babe.
She's a robo babe.
I'd convert to the peaceloving religion of Islam for her in a second.
In half a second.
But I digress.
The Perfect Fit seems utterly unaware that the sexiest and most dangerous looking waitress in the place is favouring me with ye olde looks that kill routine. (Or looks that imply a serious effort may shortly be underway to kill in the near future.)
I take a sip of warm milk.
It is Privya's sole pleasure in life to serve me warm milk when I order a caffe latte.
I do not begrudge her this consolation.
The Perfect Fit for her part shows no sign of being aware of this particularly magnificent bout of synchronised glaring. In truth, she is well accustomed to strangers glaring at me.
It's part of why she finds me so fascinating.
Our conversation today scintles brightly through the cafe.
"So are you still sick?" my companion wonders.
The Perfect Fit's question refers to several ailments which recently struck down Ireland's greatest living poet.
(Heelers means himself - Ed note.)
First came gout, then a paralysing back pain, then a tooth ache.
Oh the humanity.
But I digress.
(Again - Ed note.)
I eye the Perfect Fit keenly and speak with utmost seriousness.
"I'm all clear," sez I. "Not a sign of a symptom in any part of my body. And I'll tell you why. I think they were spiritual afflictions."
"Spiritual afflictions in what way?" enquires La Perfecta.
I groan like a heffalump in pain.
"I think I'd started hating Muslims and Arabs," I tell her. "Not just hating their crimes against humanity and their crimes against each other. But really hating them. And it wasn't their terrorism that did it either. It was a little Muslim crime gang operating in Dublin called the Black Jackets. I couldn't abide the thought that these low life were smuggling themselves into our country and then trying to force Irish people to live in fear. Somewhere along the way I started to despise them for it. To really really hate them."
"So what changed?" asked Perfection.
I shrugged.
"I think God gave me an awareness of the hatred I'd let into myself," I mused. "I think sometimes there's a gift in the afflictions. This was mine. To actually be unable to walk. Then to see myself in some measure as I am. I chose not to hate. The afflictions lifted."
The Perfect Fit grinned and half turned towards Privya.
"So what do you think is going on up there?" she demanded cheekily. "You certainly don't seem too well disposed towards that one."
Her glistening Spanish eyes challenged me for a response.
I answered her ruefully and without hesitation.
"It's perfectly clear what's going on," I murmured. "I've been free of hatred for about three months. But Satan never willingly gives up his kingdom."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

an open letter to tony o'reilly

Dear Tone.
I chanced upon a copy of the Irish Independent, one of the newspapers you own, on Saturday. Someone had left it in the Costa Cafe and I inadvertently picked it up. As you well know, I never buy it.
On a page edited by one of your drones in Sector Seven G, a certain Mr Kim Bielenberg, my eye alighted on a supposedly humorous snippet about American Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The piece was in keeping with a lot of your sneering coverage of Sarah Palin over the past two weeks.
The piece referred to a photo of Sarah Palin showing her with a shotgun. The photo had supposedly appeared on the cover of a magazine.
The piece quoted an unnamed observer as saying that the shotgun in the photo had something to do with Sarah Palin's daughter's forthcoming marriage.
O'Reilly do you, as owner of Independent Newspapers, bear any responsiblity for what your drones are writing?
Do you stand over this material?
Here's what I want you to do.
I want you to take Kim Bielenberg to one side.
I want you to tell him that it is unacceptable to print remarks that may be interpreted as being disrespectful to any single mother, or to the parents of that single mother, or to the family of that single mother, or to the unborn child of that single mother, or to the betrothed of that single mother.
I want you to make it clear to him that you don't care whether his remarks are meant to be witty, snide, ingenious, ingenuous, or simply to produce short term political capital for Barak Obama.
Don't scare him.
Just make it clear to him O'Reilly.
I want you to tell him that you came into the world through the union of a man and woman who were not married and who never married.
Tell him you got to live because the Irish no matter what their circumstances believed in the sanctity of life.
Tell him that thanks to Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of life the Irish never bowed to abortion or infanticide, or even to the unimaginative anti life ideology of contraception.
Tell him O'Reilly.
Tell him that's why you exist.
I want you to make it clear to him that when he insults a teenage mother in your newspaper, whether through innuendo, vindictiveness or sneer, that he is insulting you.
Let him know where you stand O'Reilly.
Thank you for your time.
James Healy
PS: Are your other drones in Sector Seven G, Kevin Myers and Ian O'Doherty, are they lifting ideas from my blog? Look into this.
PPS: I bet they don't lift this one.


the serene erudite dignity of ireland's greatest living poet (photographed by Luisella Avaro)