Archive for October, 2008

How Lord of the Rams Can Help you Get Through the Recession

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

It seems everyone is talking about the recession lately. To be honest, I’ve been predicting one for a long time – mainly because no economy can survive with one industry as its main crutch – and the construction industry has been a hell of a crutch, to say the least. Add in the travesty that is the banking crisis and you can see that it was always a disaster waiting to happen. Meanwhile, the vast amounts of money that have gone through Ireland during the “Celtic Tiger” era have been squandered by the government. Take a look at the health, education and transportation systems and then tell me that we have received good bang for our buck over the past decade. Anyway, I’m no expert and far be it from me to start lecturing on the economy. But one thing that has struck me over the past few years is this:

Yes, everyone had more money than ever before but were they any happier? Houses were ridiculously overpriced considering the average national wage (I know this is beginning to rectify itself but it’s a little too late for those who have purchased their first property in the past few years), childcare prices have gone through the roof and, perhaps most significantly, everybody seems to be working harder with less free time to enjoy themselves.

I grew up in the eighties so I know quite a bit about hard times – money was always tight but we did the best with what we had. And in the nineties, I spent my college days living on a meagre 15 pounds per week. But despite the downside associated with such poverty, I look fondly back on those times and realise that they strengthened me as a person, helping me become the man I am today. Perhaps that’s exactly what this country needs – a good hard kick up the arse!

One thing I learned in college was that every financial problem had a solution – I learnt how to stretch money beyond what anyone might perceive as possible. And I had a good teacher in “No Shame” – one of the main characters in Lord of the Rams. Together we furnished our college flat with free lightbulbs, cutlery and toilet roll. We bought our washing powder by the weight – packaged in small clear bags and costing about a pound a go. Via various dubious yet genius scams, we made free telephone calls, heated the flat for free and secured free cable for our rented television (read about the cable episode at Furthermore, I never ate out (unless you count the odd trip to Supermacs), I ate the same food almost every day, I never bought clothes (and thus resembled a tramp) and I availed of the cheapest off-licence beer (who remembers six cans of Dutch Gold for a fiver?) before going out for a night on the town.

Whilst I’m not condoning or recommending much of what we did in order to survive, in many ways I’m glad to have known such hard times and I think Lord of the Rams is a better book for all the misadventures we had during those lean years.

Until later,

For more recession-beating tips told with good humour, pick up a copy of Lord of the Rams today by clicking here. It’s ironically priced at a wallet-bursting  €14.50.

Where Have all the Women Gone?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Long time no blog!

It’s over two months since Lord of the Rams was launched. Most of the feedback I’ve received in that time has been pretty positive. One question that has cropped up once or twice from those who have read the book is “why aren’t there many female characters in it?”. Whilst there are quite a few women featured sporadically in the book, many make only cameo appearances, the events/people aren’t connected and some of them aren’t perhaps the most admirable of characters (likewise with many of the male characters). But I made a conscious decision when I began writing the book that few female characters would feature in it. The reasons were many:

Lord of the Rams is a memoir more so than an autobiography – i.e. it focuses primarily on certain aspects of my life (my friendships with a number of lifelong male friends) rather than my whole life as it were. The danger when writing a book about your life is that you could fall into the trap of including everyone you know – male and female – in the story. That wouldn’t make for a very interesting book, and so I decided only a certain number of my friends would feature in the book – and for the most part these were the people I’ve known virtually all my life (almost all of whom happen to be male; female friends have mostly come and gone over the years). This has meant rolling some characters into one and omitting other close friends, but one could still argue that there are a touch too many characters in the book – however, that was a sacrifice I was prepared to make to keep the story as true to life as it could be. Adding female characters for the sake of it would only have complicated things further.

Of course I could have a told the other type of stories about women that one might expect to find in a book about a group of lads growing up through school and college – but I felt it wasn’t my place to do so. There are books aplenty like that on the market and I wanted to take a different approach. Furthermore, such stories would have left me more open to a libel suit or more likely to hurt the feelings / unnecessarily shame some of the characters who feature in the book – all of whom have been fully supportive of this project but may have felt differently should I have dragged their storied love lives into the book.

As a way of cloaking the facts, I could have changed more characters’ names than I did. But, as anyone from a small community in Ireland will tell you, it wouldn’t take Jessica Fletcher to work out who was who! And again, I wanted to keep the story as real as possible – I’m proud of the fact that about 95% of the events in the book happened exactly as written – sometimes the truth can be as funny as any fiction one might conjure up.

As it is, take Lord of the Rams for what it is – a humourous account of growing up in Ireland that doesn’t tell all but perhaps doesn’t need to! Ironically, most of the readers of Lord of the Rams thus far have been women – most of whom seem to have enjoyed the book :-)

And, finally, please keep the feedback coming via email ( or by leaving a message on this blog.

Until Later,

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