Don't mention the R word.

So here's the thing.

Times are tough and everyone is tightening their belt.

I'm not unsympathetic.I know I'm one of the lucky ones. If I - touch wood - should lose my job I don't have to think about putting food on the table for a family or paying for school fees.

If the worst came to the worst for me I'd have to go home and live with my parents. Not a successful project in the past but one I'm sure we could struggle through again with the benefit of hindsight. After eighteen years of frayed tempers they figured out not to talk to me in the morning and I learnt how to telephone and let them know if I'm staying out instead of arriving home twelve hours later than agreed.

Now before I continue can I just stress this is not a tirade on the elderly and their medical cards or people on welfare or the recently unemployed.

I'm basing these observations solely on my own middle class group of friends, family and colleagues who appear to have become obsessed with the cost of everything since the budget, with its levies and cuts, was announced.

This time last year the only conversation about cost was how cheap a flight to New York was on Aer Lingus.

But since the word recession reappeared in our everyday vocabulary it seems everyone is suddenly shocked by the high price of living in Ireland.

The most annoying conversation is the groceries one. For the last two years - at least- consumer groups have been calling on us all to demand cheaper prices in supermarkets. We've all been asked to take part in anti shopping days. And we've all agreed its outrageous that groceries in the North cost less than they do in the Republic.

But we've done nothing about it. We've read the articles and been momentarily outraged. Until now. Now we're constantly outraged.

I'm not saying its right and believe me I don't like spending a huge chunk of my wages on food and cleaning products but we had our chance to act and we didn't. There's very little point - or justification - in getting antsy about it now

We were the people buying the houses we knew weren't really worth the asking price we paid for them, we were buying the fancy cars because the banks kept giving us money and paying for overpriced clothes and groceries because our credit card limits kept extending.

I'm not saying anyone deserves to be broke nor do I want to see someone lose their home or livelihood but we all knew the Celtic Tiger couldn't last forever. Admittedly no one expected it to curl up and die as rapidly as it did, but the signs have been there and we all chose to ignore them.

The problem most of us got used to a lifestyle that wasn't real. For the majority of people I know, myself included, the high living was highly dependent on loans and credit. And we've come to see luxuries such as holidays and gym membership as the norm. Really they're not. So if we have to do without them for a while it won't kill us. Its just not pleasant.

I'm not saying I haven't moaned about the price of things myself but I think its time we accepted the situation and moved on.

Hopefully the recession will pass sooner rather than later and we can all go back to enjoying our low fat soy milk mocha lattes and buying named brand groceries without feeling guilty.

In the meantime suddenly the bad weather doesn't seem such a depressing conversation starter after all.


Bank holiday bliss

Normally by half five on a Sunday night I'm looking for work clothes, ironing shirts and sinking deep into a feeling of back to school depression.

Which is why bank holidays are just so brilliant. Not only do we get to lounge around and know we can stay up late because there's no work in the morning but there's the added massive bonus of being paid to have the next day off.

Sometimes it really is the little things that make the world wonderful.


I don't like driving in my car

When did drivers get to be so mean?

I don't tend to drive a lot because I leave in Dublin city centre but on the occasional weekends I'm home my parents normally get sick of my presence fairly quickly ( for some reason I regress back to the age of 18 as soon as I pass through the front door) and lend me their car so I can get out from under their feet and stop complaining there's no food in the house.

I got my licence when I was eighteen but my sister, who still lives at home, is learning to drive. As a result the car is covered in L plates which I used to think was comforting because when I first hit the roads - many many years ago -  it was a given that other drivers on the road would be considerate to the fact that you were a learner and even though you were stalling, cutting out and causing tailbacks by driving too slowly they would restrain from beeping at you or overtaking.

However those days are long past. The new sport is to try and intimidate the learner driver in their mammy's car by driving right up on top of them and cutting out in front of them, even if the right of way belongs to the newbie on the road.

After a few such incidents on Saturday afternoon I decided to take a stand and attempted to hold onto my right of way. Not that it deterred the guy who was barging in front of me from my left who responded by giving me the fingers and continuing to drive forward. My choices were to lose the side of my mam's car or back off. I backed off ( my mam is cool but wouldn't be too understanding if I can home with half a car because I was playing a game of chicken.) Yer man reves in and drives off cursing me as he goes. I don't want to repeat the words but lets just say they began with c and f respectively.

When did this happen? Road rage seems to have spread more rapidly than the winter vomiting bug. Even my 21 year old sister, who's only learning drive a wet week, was playing her horn like a symphony whenever she got behind the wheel.

I don't know what the reason behind it is but it's made me determined to stay living near a bus route or a train line. I don't think I have the killer instinct you need to survive on Irish roads.

Obama-rama

I'm going to go against the grain here and risk the ire of the one person who reads this blog - hi John - but I don't entirely buy into the Barack Obama buzz.

Now I'm not claiming to know anything about American politics and can I just say I'm not a fan of John McCain either. Frankly he constantly looks amazed, and grateful, to find he's still standing at the end of a speech. If he were my granddad I'd insist on more bed rest and less badgering.

Its not that I dislike Barack Obama as a person, if I had a vote I'd give it to him, but this whole media perception where he's portrayed as the saviour just bugs me.

The thing about Obama is he's a brilliant speaker and extremely skilled at getting a crowd to listen and support him but he's not saying anything new. The last time I saw him in action he was telling a rally, who were eating out of the palm of his hand, that he doesn't want to see a recession and he doesn't want people to lose their jobs. Who does?

The difference between Obama and McCain is that Obama is brilliant at delivering his beliefs. And it seems - to me anyway - that because he's been around the American political scene for a relatively short period of time that everyone buys into the fact that he CAN deliver them.

And maybe he can, I hope he can, but the cynical part of me thinks its a little unrealistic given that every country in the world is struggling to survive an economic nightmare right now.


Facebook is not my friend.

I'm getting old. Maturing if you will. In my mind I'm still eighteen but somehow, without realising it, I grew up.

It's very distressing. I had thought myself above the ageing process, for one thing I still drink mid week. Come to think of it though, that has changed from making the most of student drink promotions on a Thursday night to a picking up a nice bottle of red to go with my dinner. Are clubs even allowed hold drink promotions anymore? You see what I mean. I officially belong to the older generation. I'm out of touch with club life. The red bull and vodka offers no longer appeal. In fact I can't even drink red bull at all anymore. It keeps me up all night.

The realisation of this process began with facebook some months ago. One friend invited me to join, another added me as a friend and so it snowballed until I'd racked up a fairly decent number of friends and had even gone so far as to upload a profile picture.

But, honestly, I don't get it. The only time I look at it is after I get an email notification that someone has posted on my profile. I know I should embrace it (email is so 1990s) but I simply cannot see the point in communicating through a social network site. I'd rather just socialise.

I can see why some people enjoy looking up old friends but, you know what, sometimes you lose touch for a reason.You were never really mates to begin with, that part of your life is simply past or they turned out to be mean penny pinching boyfriends passing themselves off as angst ridden songwriters.

As it turns out I seem to have a lot (well three) of these 'friends' who've captured me in a cyber hunt and think it'd be great craic to meet. I'm still trying to work out the nicest way to say no, which means I'm avoiding the messages and praying I don't run into them on the street.

But the day I knew I'd finally done what I swore I'd never do and had become my mother came upon me unexpectedly on a Saturday in early August.

My boyfriend John and I were sitting in a cafe in Dublin's city centre watching the brave few outside beat their way through the rain when a young girl, I'd say sixteen or so, came around the corner.

In a crowd of runner wearing, umbrella carrying pedestrians she stood out a mile in her short Summer's dress and high heels.

While John stayed silent in appreciation of her fashion taste and long blonde hair, from somewhere deep inside me,my mum's voice emerged. I wasn't even aware my mouth was open, when I heard the words echoing loudly around the room , "What in the name of God is that girl thinking, she'll catch her death of cold dressed like that in this weather."

I was mortified. John just looked sad.

Later that day I attempted to recapture my old self by stopping off in a shop for teenage girls and buying an overpriced mini skirt.

It looks very good .... in my wardrobe.

Recession Session

Finally a silver lining to the global credit crisis.

I spent my Saturday night at a recession party. Brilliant! It was the first time in months that the word recession hasn't been followed by long doom and gloom conversation.

Basically its a house party with an eighties theme.We're talking bon jovi, Wham, Human League and Madonna True Blue on the stereo system and lots of neon leggings and big hair filling up the room.

We were all meant to bring some kind of retro food. I wanted to bring steak and kidney pie in a tin ( we used to eat that on our Summer holidays as a big treat and I loved it!) but I was told to bring some more along the lines of hula hoops or Cheddar cubes on sticks. Simple fun stuff. Cocktail sausages and those mini sausage rolls were also big hits.

Thankfully my friends didn't go down the route of brewing their own wine, which was my parents top saving tip during their tighter years, but the weekend's wine was found in boxes and anyone fancy enough to drink vodka or gin was given a capri sun as a mixer.

I know the global economy is in a mess but if we're all going down we may as well have a (cheap) laugh on the way.

In the dark

Can anyone tell me what kind of singer Andrea Bocelli is other than blind?

Have you ever noticed that journalists never tell you whether he's a tenor or an alto but instead let you know he doesn't have the sense of sight.

Sentences about Pavarotti never start off by calling him the morbidly obese Italian singer, or should I say the dead morbidly obese singer.

Luciano was always one of the three tenors, and more recently the late Maestro of Modena.

But any reference to poor old Bocelli starts off -the blind Italian singer - just so you don't forget he can't actually see but, you know what, that's grand he can sing and he's from Italy.

I'm sure it'd make Andrea mad - if only he could see the articles - he's blind you know.

Boys Literature

So I'm having a 'debate' with my boyfriend John at the moment. He says men buying FHM magazine is the same as women buying Marie Claire magazine.

Now Marie Claire is has the odd sex tip and plenty of clothes to drool over but its also full of really informed and interesting articles whereas, I feel, FHM is just a chance for men to perve over hot girls. Its main features are along the lines of high street hotties and sexy sultries. Oh and it has the odd footy article as well.

I don't object to it being in the house or anything but I don't think any guy can say, hand on heart, they buy its reading material. Thoughts?

Niamh