Most people will have read or heard on the news that much of the current financial crisis was caused by massive sub-prime lending in the United States. Basically, greedy finance houses gave home loans to low-paid or out of work applicants who had no hope of ever meeting the mortgage repayments. The cute hoors then sold on the loans, like a bookie, to other financial institutions who were too greedy or too incompetent to realise they were buying pigs in a poke.

Mind you, many of the buyers knew they were taking a risk but they gambled on being able to ‘flip’ their properties. In other words, they hoped that prices would continue to rise and they intended to sell after a year or two and pocket the difference in value. Sadly, their punt went wrong and, I guess, you can’t blame them for trying but I would blame the people who knew better and still led them up the garden path.

The pure scale of the debacle is difficult for many people to understand but you will get some idea when I tell you that, in Las Vegas alone, 3,500 homes were seized in the month of September bringing the total for the year to 22,500 and there are still two months to go! In fact, things are worse than that because it is estimated that another 50,000 owners managed to somehow sell their properties and avoid the keys being repossessed. And that’s just one city in one State in the whole United States. No wonder the world’s banks are in crisis.

Suirside tops for Nookie?

The writer of a widely-read internet blog in this country has informed his readers that Waterford, more than likely, has the highest incidence of extra marital affairs in Ireland. Leitrim, he suggests, is the most chaste county in the Republic.

A self confessed statistics and mathematics enthusiast, the Limerick-based blogger (his penname is unprintable!)used census figures and county memberships of certain websites to arrive at his conclusions. He admits he has made a number of unsustainable assumptions but, nevertheless, believes his figures are not too far off the mark.

Working on the principle that people between the ages of 24 to 65 were more likely to have affairs, he worked out the population of each county that fell into that age demographic. Next, assuming that anyone looking for extra curricular activity, might be a member of a dating site/swing site, he selected one of Irelands most popular sites and managed to get figures for registered users county by county.

Using both the numbers in the chosen demographic and the statistics for each county that had active profiles, he believed it was possible to work out which county had the highest percentage users and thus the highest likelihood of affairs being conducted.

For what it’s worth, the blogger’s Top Five counties for extra marital affairs are as follows: 1 Waterford; 2 Dublin; 3 Louth; 4 Carlow; 5 Sligo.

Those for would-be lotharios to avoid are 1 Leitrim; 2 Roscommon; 3 Kerry; 4 Monaghan; 5 Tipperary.

The mystery of the missing file

There appears to be a nice little row brewing in County Meath over a controversial planning file that has mysteriously gone missing from the offices of the County Council.

Apparently, the entire 2004 planning file relating to the controversial Indaver Incinerator at Duleek, all seven or eight boxes of it, has disappeared. The file on the €300m project has not been seen since it was last inspected two months ago by a community activist opposed to the project. The activist, Pat O’Brien, said he was amazed to discover while perusing the file that, in his opinion, work had started on the incinerator project one kilometer away from the site where it was supposed to have been located under the conditions of the planning permission and the company’s own environmental impact statement. He was now amazed to learn that the entire file was missing.

However, both the County Council and Indaver have strongly rejected Mr. O’Brien’s claim that the incinerator is under construction at an incorrect location. The local authority’s Director of Communications, Bill Sweeney, stressed that the subsequent 2005 planning application was intact and available for inspection. However, Mr. Sweeney confirmed that the original 2004 application could not be located and that a frantic search was under way. There was a possibility that the files had been incorrectly placed and a physical search of the archive was being carried out at present which was a massive operation.

Now, Meath based Fine Gael TD, Shane McEntee, has entered the fray and has called on the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to clarify the situation regarding the exact location on the site where work should be underway. As they used to say on the old ‘Rowan and Martin Laugh-In’ programme, ‘Veeeery interesting’!

Hard times at the pub

The downturn in business being conducted by public houses has now reached crisis point, especially in many rural areas.

The similarities between Waterford and Galway are often mentioned and, if that holds true for pubs, then things are serious across the Deise because the Galway Vintners issued a major statement last week declaring that the vast majority of towns and villages in County Galway can only sustain less than half the pubs currently in operation. Spokesperson Paul O’Grady said the decline in trade had been matched by a dramatic reduction in the value of pub licences which had plummeted. Not too long ago, a pub licence could fetch in the region of €175,000 but they were now available for €130,000.

Mr. O’Grady said a person would be hard pushed these days to find a pub open anywhere in County Galway before 7 o’clock at night and many owners were complaining that their businesses were nothing more these days than drop-in centres infrequently used by customers. The Vintners spokesperson said the harsh truth was that many people in the trade were desperately trying to get out as they were not making a profit and their overheads continued to climb.

A former hurler’s good catch

Tony was enjoying an Early Bird meal in a certain Waterford restaurant on Friday last and he couldn’t help but notice that a very beautiful woman was also dining alone, facing in his direction, two tables down from him. They were both on their coffees when the woman arched her back and sneezed loudly. To Tony’s horror, one of her eyes popped out but, in a reflex action, he nimbly put out his hand and caught the glass orb cleanly. God, he thought, if he had been as good at catching a sliotar in his hurling days he might have kept his place on the county team.

“Oh my goodness, I am sooo sorry”, gushed the woman as she deftly picked the eye out of Tony’s hand and popped it back into its socket in one swift movement.

“Let me buy you a drink to make it up to you”, she offered, and Tony and his new friend Sandra ended up together until closing time when, being a gentleman, he called a taxi and escorted her to her front-door on the Dunmore Road. What could she do only invite him in for a night-cap and afterwards one thing led to another and they ended up in bed together. Phew, sez you.

The next morning, when Tony woke up, he could hear Sandra clattering about downstairs and the wonderful smell of rashers and eggs wafted up to the bedroom. He had hardly propped himself up on the pillows when she floated through the door carrying a tray laded down the proverbial ‘Full Irish’.

“I’ll tell you what, you’re some woman”, said Tony, “are you always this nice to the chaps you invite home?”

“Not at all”, replied Sandra in a slightly sharp tone, “you’re different, you just happened to catch my eye.”