'Modern Life Is Rubbish'

March 22, 2024

'She is one of the last true Romantics. She looks really young and I don’t think that is a coincidence. None of those modern stresses are for her, thank you very much, especially technology induced stresses . Like the ones I’m about to describe' ….


It’s 2024 A.D. but feels like 1979. My sister lights fires, reads books by candlelight, and listens to the wireless radio. She also plays old cassettes and vinyl records, forward winding and rewinding through her favourite tunes. She doesn’t have a smart phone or Wi-Fi or a computer. So if you want to send her a photo you need to print it out first. She plays an old upright piano. She has no car. She writes letters and birthday cards regularly, licking stamps and envelopes , old school, and sends them off by walking down to the Post Office, chatting along the way with the locals. She gets the train down the south coast to holiday in the summer and swims in the cold salty sea. She is a published author of fiction novels and writes her books with an old typewriter.

The feel and the sound and the rhythm of the character keys and the inked ribbons, . Beautiful!

The feel and the sound and the rhythm of the character keys and the inked ribbons, . Beautiful!

Everything she has seems to be old fashioned and fixable. If you’ve ever fixed anything, you know how good it is for the soul. Even that lamp over there. Or the wheel you changed. Or the sock you darned.

She is one of the last true romantics. She looks 20 years younger than her peers and I don’t think that is a coincidence. None of those modern stresses are for her, thank you very much, especially technology induced stresses . Like the ones I’m about to describe ….

To do list

Number 1. Chase down that debt

This week I decided to take on those scary musty items that live low down on the list of 'things to do'. Things 'I'd rather gnaw my own arm off', then do. I had to get in touch with my elusive accountant ( he won’t talk, he just emails & texts ) to find out why I was charged a penalty of e412.46 by Revenue. It was, he said, for ‘not updating my property house value online’, a charge related to LFPT, Local Fuckin’ Property Tax, which I pay every year for some reason. I undertook a boring and tedious litany of emails, phone calls, forms and online revenue accounts . One thing on my list became ten, thanks to my government friends.

Here's the fun things I got to do.

A. As a starter, I tried and failed to Log on to their confusing Revenue websites

B. Then I rang them and explained my inability to access their site so

C. They sent a letter with a secret number code by post to where I didn’t live anymore,

D. Then I eventually got the code, and went online again and got the ‘digital cert’ so I could access my account.

E. I could now print off a statement from the LPT site ( lost yet? Admit it, you are). This statement needed to go back to Revenue as a physical hard copy.

F. So then I had to get my printer out but the printer didn’t work because my new laptop couldn’t upload a driver for the old printer.

G. Therefore, I had to walk down 2 miles to the town in the rain with the buggy and my chirpy 2 year old daughter and get the form printed off so I could send this and had to include

H. A hand written letter to revenue explaining that they should reimburse me the money they had taken in error.

I. I had to also include the income tax assessment letter that they sent me, even though they have it because they sent it to me in the first place, but I still had to send it back to them.

These phone calls to the Civil Servants though ( about a dozen in this case) are mind numbing. The slight disdain with which they talk to you when they eventually answer the phone (after talking to 50 fucking bots and typing numbers to multiple choice questions) is unique. The tone is slightly Christian Brother, slightly patronising, slightly impatient, slightly pitying.

“Miss you”, they said, finally.

“Me too. Keep in touch”, I said. “Don’t leave it so long next time”.

“You hang up first”, they said

“No, you”

Revenue employee after talking to me.

Revenue employee after talking to me.

To do list

Number 2. Pay my tax or drop out of society

Ironically, and simultaneously, I have also been trying to pay off my income tax in 3 monthly payments. Their attempt to take it all directly from my account last Christmas (without my permission) failed and it bounced back at them! Ha-ha, serves them right. Is that not telling them something?

Because of their inability to fleece the last pennies from my overdrafted account despite their stealth-like manoeuvre , and because I couldn’t set up a staggered payments system online without filling out details of my private and personal life into their digital forms, they decided to send a typed letter saying the Sheriff (of Nottingham?) was going to call to my house and take some of my ‘assets’ if I didn’t pay the remaining e2000 of this tax IMMEDIATELY ( partly for money I hadn’t earned yet). Really? I’m a 3 months late, tax compliant member of society and have already paid e1000 in good faith. They seem to have no inclination to be personable or treat me like a human. And no mention of what they owe me! Revenue has no empathy, no sense of humour and no friends. Kind of like dealing with a psychopath, by definition therefore. No wonder people give up on modern society and drop out.

I think I will just become a crusty hippy and hug trees in Sligo and get free handouts and live in a tent in some posh Lord’s estate for free and call into people I don’t know that well and help myself to what they have in their fridges, and call up or text ex-lovers even though they are in new relationships, and never say thanks for anything because I’m entitled to it anyway, and I’m not going to wash my balls ever again, or my hair , or what’s left of the hair that covers up the bald spots that the government caused, and fuck the system, and no wonder this, and no wonder that, and has anyone got a spare fiver for dogfood?

The thought of this, to be honest, fills me with dreads

The thought of this, to be honest, fills me with dreads

To do list

Number 3. Buy things I don’t need.

I have a new studio to record in thanks to the kindness of a certain brilliant energetic community man in a beautiful community of people that you will find in a place near Dublin called Clondalkin. We, the band Kila, want to record our next album and some exciting Soundtrack music there (which I’m not allowed talk about yet). I also want to record a 100 new drumming ideas on my vintage drum kits to ignite album no.3 of my Side 4 music project.

But ….I have just learned that my Audio Interface, 8 in and 8 out, (not as sexy as it sounds) doesn’t work with my new laptop, so it’s useless. This Interface (something you stick microphones into), is an expensive top of the range piece of studio hardware and is working perfectly , but it now has to go in the bin. And so I have to buy a new one.

Think of those beautiful old automobiles in Cuba, the Chevy’s that were discarded from the US in the 1950’s, and the way the local Cubans redo and refix these classic cars lovingly and endlessly….they have now become one of the most famous colourful icons that the world celebrate, and are a thing of such rare beauty.

An edible Chevy in Cuba

An edible Chevy in Cuba

Most of us in the western world, meanwhile, are shameless retail therapy junkies. I bought a load of stuff I didn’t need recently to try to get that temporary alleviation from stresses probably caused by the very things I was buying. I didn’t read a great book or go to the theatre or visit an old lonely neighbour or swim in the cold sea, no. I bought loads of shit instead and convinced myself I felt briefly better but in a slightly empty way. But the stuff I bought inevitably will have that built-in obsolescence, be un upgradable or unfixable and i will then most likely throw it in a huge landfill. Think about that. 8,000,000,000 of us throwing unbiodegradable stuff out every week. Where the fuck is it all? It’s weeping and seeping into the land under where our children play. The world can’t digest it and belches its acid reflux back at us and shits itself into our rivers.

A baby Albatross' stomach

A baby Albatross' stomach

That’s the next generation’s problem. Fuck it!

Then we go and buy the most up to date shit again, possibly to keep up with the Jones’ next door cos they have the most up to date one. The motivation? Status. And we make the banks a few extra pence on the loans we take out that we don’t tell anyone about. And boy do the banks, and Revenue, love to

“…fumble in a greasy till

And add the halfpence to the pence

And prayer to shivering prayer, until

You have dried the marrow from the bone;

For men were born to pray and save:

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,

It's with O'Leary in the grave.” WB Yeats ( September 13)

But its also alive and well, wherever my sister goes

© Dave Hingerty 2024