A new world of flatpack jobs instead of fat cat cars

Sat, Apr 25, 2009, 01:00

RADIO REVIEW:IN 1942, a 35-year-old woman died in a hospital in Sydney, Australia. She had five children, but was rarely mentioned by her family again. In The Search for Edna Lavilla(RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday), Eurydice Aroney, Edna’s granddaughter, and co-producer Sharon Davis gradually unravelled the mystery surrounding her death.

Eurydice asked her mother Russ: “How did she die again, mum?” Russ replied: “She died from food poisoning.” They searched through newspapers and court records, spoke to retired nurses and policewomen, and read letters from a poverty-stricken Edna to a children’s home, begging them to take her children into care.

According to her 1943 inquest, Edna actually died from septicemia after a backstreet abortion. At that time, one in four pregnancies in Sydney was aborted. As Eurydice said: “All those old ladies who never said a word.” This award-winning documentary, originally broadcast in Australia in 2007, finally freed Edna from secrecy and shame.

“Poverty led to that abortion and stained her memory forever,” Eurydice concluded. Edna’s daughter and granddaughter eventually found her grave in a forgotten, unmarked plot of land. Eurydice wished she could reach down to her. We left them there, voices trembling, with the faint sound of birds singing overhead.

Songwriter Shay Healy was also talking about a long-lost relative on Marian Finucane(RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday): Che Guevara. This wasn’t the first time he has laid claim to Che. When he told the same story to Joe Duffy a couple of years ago, Joe asked him, “You weren’t called Shay Healy after Che Guevara?” Cheeky monkey.

Shay/Che told Finucane he was related to the Argentinian revolutionary through Patrick Lynch, who left Galway in 1715 and travelled to Argentina via Bilbao. He said comedian Katherine Lynch, who does the sketch show Wonderwomenon RTÉ television, may also be related to Che. That would be some family reunion.

Speaking with great stoicism and spirit about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago, Healy said: “Most mornings when I get up it feels like two guys have been kicking me up and down Clanbrassil Street.” He doesn’t believe that a cure will be found in his lifetime, but he added, “I remain optimistic.” He reminisced about interviewing Tammy Wynette and later singing Stand By Your Manwhile sitting in her bath (Wynette had already left the building). Regarding ageing he said: “Never pass up the chance to go to the toilet. Never trust that the next emission of wind is going to be silent. Never waste a stiffy.” Wisely, Finucane moved swiftly along.

Family values and, to quote Lisa O’Brien, marketing manager for the new Ikea store in Dublin, “a passion for furniture” are just two of the requirements to work there when it opens in July. On Monday’s Moncrieff(Newstalk 106-108, weekdays), Henry McKean said 3,500 people showed up for an open day for 500 posts. O’Brien said: “Everyone’s equal in the world of Ikea.” New employees spoke of the “Ikea family”. It was beginning to sound like a church. But John, from Ballymun, did a three-day course and didn’t make the cut. “I put a lot of effort in but got nowhere,” he said. “I don’t think people from Ballymun are getting a chance.”

On Tuesday’s Drivetime(RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays), Olivia O’Leary’s pithy essay reminded us how many politicians have lost touch with ordinary people. When she started noticing the number of Mercedes and BMWs in the ordinary members’ car park of the Dáil, she said: “I knew that TDs had moved into a new income zone.” O’Leary said that, with increasing job losses and young people who cannot afford their own homes, three generations of families are now sharing one house and, sometimes, one income “here in 10-year-old Toyota land”. People don’t mind this simpler, communal way of living, she added, “that is until one of those fat Mercedes goes purring by”. But these days even politicians are finding themselves out-ranked. Sunday Tribunebusiness editor Emmet Oliver told George Hook on The Right Hook(Newstalk 106-108, weekdays): “The most important man in the country is not Brian Cowen, it’s Dr Michael Somers,” (left) head of the National Treasury Management Agency.

“He’s trying to drum up bond financing,” Oliver said. “He is the guy keeping the wolf from the door.” The time has gone when international credit ratings agencies looked at Ireland and saw a bank/State divide, he added. “We are Allied Irish Banks. We are Bank of Ireland.” Like it or lump it, we are one big cash-strapped, unhappy family.