August 2008: Fashionable Recession

Last week I talked about what how some things would become unfashionable during the recession. Somebody mentioned to me during the week that I forgot to mention tribunals as the country cannot afford them any more. I countered that at least the Flood tribunal would remain popular given our recent doomsday weather.

Anyway, as they tell me that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, this week we can ruminate on what will become fashionable over the impending hair shirt days. And, like fashion trends, some things are just coming back into fashion under different labels rather than being new inventions, which don’t fool the veterans of the 1983 to 1992 Recession War amongst us, of course.
No siree, we can recognise a wolf in sheep’s clothing when we see one. Take all this grow-your-own-vegetables-it’s-good-for-you advice we’re getting. Most of us couldn’t give a crooked carrot for this baloney. We would much prefer to be able to but our spuds in the shop if we could afford them.

Unfortunately, now that famine times are imminent, it may be that we have to take out the rusty spade again, beg a bit of dung from the local farmer and plant our own Pipers. We didn’t seem to notice the cost of the humble potato increasing during the good times, did we? We were too busy trying our hand-made Italian pastas and subtle saffron-flavoured rice in our shiny new chrome kitchens.

Supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl will become fashionable in our brave new world. We will learn how to pronounce the names of such outlets properly at last and say their names out loud and proud. And we will get used to picking up our bananas and oranges from the very boxes they arrived into this country in. I find it somewhat reassuring that I can examine the side of the box and find out which exotic country is supplying me with my fine beans. And yes, I’m admitting to doing my shopping there at last.

Another recycled “fashionable” notion is this cycling lark that is being foisted on us as a healthy thing to do by the likes of Jolly Green Gormley. You won’t get me buying into that bit of PR, even if I could afford to. The bottom line, if you’ll excuse the pun, is that nobody in their right mind would straddle a saddle in this day and age were it not for the recession and the price of petrol. Who wants to face into half-finished roundabouts, streets with no cycling paths and waterways built on flood plains that masqueraded as roads in the good times when we didn’t care about such bad planning acts?

Daytime television will become popular again and RTE will not be able to get away with the same type of programming as they have done in the past ten years or so as the old overstuffed armchair comes back into fashion. Babysitters like Barney and that Bear in the Big Blue House will become redundant and join the rest of us on the back-into-fashion dole queue.

They will be replaced with shows such as “Pennywise” and “I’m Redundant …Get Me Out of Here”. “Daniel O’Donnell’s DIY Show” and “How to Home Brew” will be the hits of the coming winter, as “Off the Rails” becomes “Ireland: Off the Rails” and “How Long Will You Live?” evolves into “How Long Can You Survive?”.

Fashion programmes will, ironically enough, be out of fashion and there will be nary a property programme in sight. But RTE 1 and 2 will be right up there as fashionable as we ditch the expensive Sky packages that we thought we couldn’t do without. Sure who needs more than two channels anyway?

Religion will make a comeback as we realise that the Money God proved to be a false one.  Of course a church comeback will mean another avenue for free socialising and instead of paying expensive psychiatrist fees one could just sit in the confessional and talk about one’s thoughts (or at least the bad ones) at no cost to one’s pocket. Over time, becoming a priest might even become fashionable too.

Local community halls will be full houses as Bingo become popular again. Bored unemployed youths will form dodgy-sounding rock bands and the next U2 will be born in a couple of year’s time. Farming in the west of Ireland will be the in-thing for real people rather than the haven of painters and sculptors who have sold their doubtfully inspired works to the doubtlessly uninspired property-ladder climbers of recent years.

And best of all, for me at least, the Real Santa Claus will be back in fashion next Christmas. No more trips to Lapland where kids discover the place is not as magical as they had imagined. No more quads parked outside the door on Christmas Day without as much as a ribbon wrapped around them to give it some semblance of a Santa gift.

Thankfully, it will be back to families going out to cut holly off the local trees, back to baking mince pies and Christmas cakes (at least that coffee table cookery book you got from your mad friend two years will be used at last), and back to lighted candles on the window sills as we save on electricity. A recession is not all bad, you know.


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