Life

Jake O'Kane: Easily mixed-up money can make difference between heating and eating

When you consider what I have to look at in the mirror every morning, having dodgy eyes is maybe a blessing

That local banks released almost-identical new polymer notes hasn’t helped my eyesight issues
Jake O'Kane

I’VE come to the realisation that I’m at the ‘jumping-off point’ of having to wear glasses all the time. I’ve needed them for reading for some time but over the last few months I’ve noticed a deterioration.

For instance, I was sitting at home with my glasses on, reading this paper, when I happened to look up at the television. I let out a shout of amazement: "Damn, it’s like high definition." I now also wear my specs watching television.

I’m still holding out from wearing them continuously, my problem being I can’t get used to bifocals. Instead of moving my eyes I move my head, and end up looking like I’m suffering some neurological condition involving a head bob.

I realise there’s the option of laser surgery but I’m not convinced. First off, what if the machine goes wrong? I have that scene from Goldfinger where James Bond is strapped to an operating table with a laser inching up between his legs. ‘“What happens now?” asks Bond. “You die, Mr Bond, you die,” answers Goldfinger.

Anyway, to get my eyes done would cost £4,000 and, being realistic, I don’t know if I’d get the use out of them, as we O’Kanes aren’t blessed with longevity. At almost 60, I’d be lucky to get 10 years' use. And when you consider what I have to look at in the mirror every morning, having dodgy eyes is maybe a blessing.

That local banks released almost-identical new polymer notes hasn’t helped my eyesight issues. The Bank of Ireland £20 and Danske Bank £10 notes are almost the same colour and practically the same size. The problems this poses for older people is obvious and should have been identified by the banks before these notes were released. With some of our elderly relying on a measly state pension of £134.25, to mistakenly hand over a £20 instead of a £10 can mean the difference between eating or heating.

* * *

A MAN with no worries about eating or heating is Ian Paisley Jnr, who has, yet again, been caught at his work. I’m beginning to think the man is either working through a bucket list of humiliation or is desperate to see his name appear in the book of Guinness World Records.

One thing is certain – he possesses a neck of pure brass. His greatest hits, including the Giant’s Causeway redevelopment scandal; resigning as assembly minister, having been discovered on his dad’s payroll as a researcher; topping Westminster’s MP expenses list with a bill of £232k (still not enough for him to afford car insurance as he was fined in 2016 for not having any) – not to mention those luxury holidays – has been topped off this week when he was found guilty by the Electoral Commission of accepting money from two local councils for a fundraiser he’d organised.

I don’t know if they ran a raffle at the event, but if they did, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to guess who won the top prize.

* * *

FOR a while during the week, some commentators would have you believe that Belfast’s Holylands had transformed into a petri dish of Covid-carrying university students intent on infecting the rest of society. Such was the hysteria, I was waiting for Donald Trump to appear on television, suggesting we build a wall around the place.

Initially, I joined the pitchfork mob and threw my tuppence worth on to social media. I then had an uncharacteristic moment of self-honesty, remembering my behaviour at their age.

While not condoning the breaking of Covid regulations, I suggested we collectively wind our necks in and stop shaming and blaming kids being kids. One irate lady responded to me online, saying, “Times have changed Jake, you never infected anyone”. I replied, “I wouldn’t be too sure about that”.

Partying students provide a rather convenient scapegoat when you consider they’d nothing to do with my generation’s failure to deal with this pandemic. They weren’t responsible for no lockdown when one was needed, nor the lack of PPE, nor a failing track-and-trace programme.

Having endured months of isolation then weeks of worry as their exam results were mishandled, is it any wonder students are less than amenable to being ordered around?

Heavy fines or being thrown out of university are Draconian measures which won’t work. Instead, for the minority unwilling to listen, I’d suggest a letter to their parents; a phone call from an irate Ulster mammy is guaranteed to bring any student to heel.

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