There is no point in beating about the bush.  I’ll just come straight out and admit that I am worried.  We have just endured the harshest winter in over forty years and now the City Council has gone and purchased a snowplough.  Do they know something that we don’t?  We’ve never had a snowplough before and I know for a fact that the gentlemen and ladies at City Hall are watching every cent and are spending only what is necessary.   But they have just placed a €100,000 order for a snowplough and two new gritters!

Senior engineer Frank Roche told the elected representatives last week that they had to plan for the future and to be prepared for another harsh winter if it materialised.   But I notice that our city management hasn’t put in an order for special sunhats or tubs of sun-block for the workers should a heat-wave materialise.  Neither have they spent out money on equipment to cool the roads if a heat-wave starts to melt the tar as it used to years ago.  And, very pointedly, they haven’t put in an order for a modern water-tanker should the reservoirs run dry during a prolonged, warm dry-spell. 

There can only be one reason for their odd behaviour. They must have inside information from meteorological experts and are preparing for the onset of a new ice age.  We’re bloody doomed so we are.

Are we alone or what?

One of the great debates down through the ages is whether we on earth are uniquely alone in the cosmos or is there life out there on other planets. Esteemed and distinguished scientists have argued the toss for years but, of course, the only correct answer is that we don’t really know. We can only make educated guesses.

However, new material published last week by Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society suggests that it is more likely than ever that we are not the only life-forms in existence. Earth-like planets containing life-giving water had been considered a rarity but, lo and behold, it now turns out that there are loads of them. We just couldn’t see them before. They are called exoplanets and since the first one was found in 1995 a further 445 were found to the end of last week! In fact, the Milky Way galaxy may well be littered with earth-like planets and up to 20 per cent of stars similar to our Sun may be orbited by rocky, watery planets.

Of course the other big question is, if there are intelligent life forms out there, do they know that we are here and have they attempted to contact us or visit us in the past.

New VAT hikes

It will be interesting to see how local authorities in these parts respond to a recent European Court ruling that could raise the cost of many services from car-parking to funerals. The judgement stipulates that VAT at 13.5 per cent should now be charged on a wide range of services which were previously exempt from VAT such as burial plots, off-street parking and waste and leisure services. The reasoning behind the ruling is that these are services that would attract VAT if provided by a private operator.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is urging local authorities across the country to take into account that they will have an entitlement to recover from Revenue the VAT incurred on their input costs in providing such services. Therefore, points out the Minister, the degree to which VAT is passed on should be less than the full rate of 13.5 per cent. Hmmmm, sez you!

Now it’s up-market Dalkey oil!

The news that drilling for oil is set to commence off Dalkey on the east coast has attracted a lot of interest and some commentators are wondering aloud if the same rules will apply as are currently in force for the Corrib Gas Project at Bellanaboy in Mayo.

A rather tongue-in-cheek article by, James Laffey, the editor of the Mayo based ‘Western People’ newspaper is quite barbed. For instance, he suggests that the good people of Dalkey might well be of the opinion that their new oil-field should be processed at sea but, of course, they would be wrong as such notions are totally outdated. For instance, the people of Mayo have been assured by Shell that the best method of harvesting gas and oil is to process it on shore.

Following on from the Bellanaboy example, a woodland site close to Dalkey Village, preferably owned by Coillte, should be made available for the plant at a knock-down rate. And there should be no problems with the route of the actual pipeline itself as there are many large gardens in the area capable of facilitating its progress.

Obviously, he points out, there will be some concern among the local residents, especially the very wealthy inhabitants, about the construction of an oil processing facility in their midst. But, as occurred in Mayo, they will surely be informed of the vital national interest that will be served by the project going ahead and of the consequences should they object.

A Ballybricken man always wins

Three men from Waterford, one from Ferrybank, one from St John’s Park and one from Ballybricken, were outside the Golden Gates waiting for Saint Peter to let them into heaven. “OK chaps, we’re very easygoing up here so you can do pretty much what you like except for lying. We don’t like liars in heaven and if you are caught telling a fib then you will have to spend the rest of eternity with the most ugliest and foul-mouthed woman available.”

Everything went well for a couple of weeks but then the Ferrybank man was caught out telling lies about how good a hurler he was on earth. Wham, bang, almost immediately the most horrible woman appeared at his side. She stank to high heaven, never stopped talking in a loud, high-pitched voice and never seemed to let go of his arm. The St John’s Park man only lasted a couple of days longer before he started spoofing about how important he was on earth and he suffered the same, sorry fate.

One sunny evening the two men were trudging along a beautiful, flower-strewn path totally worn out and miserable by the constant nagging and effing and blinding of the two witches they were lumbered with when they met the Ballybricken man. The stared, open-mouthed in envy, as he happily strolled along arm in arm with the most beautiful young woman they had ever seen. She was years younger than him and he looked to be having a great time.

“Isn’t it ironic”, said the Ferrybank man, “of the three of us, it was a bloody Ballybricken man who wasn’t caught out telling lies.”

For a brief moment, the smile faded from the beautiful girl’s face. “It wasn’t him”, she said mournfully, “it was me who was caught out lying and he is my punishment.”

It all goes to prove that no matter what happens, a Ballybricken man always comes up smelling of roses.