Athea Drama Group during rehearsals for their play ‘Pretend Sick’ which starts on February 15th and continues February 17th, 18th, 22nd, 24th & 25th at Con Colbert Hall at 8pm.

Athea Drama Group

Athea Drama Group are busy  rehearsing for their upcoming play ‘Pretend Sick’ by Michael J. Ginnelly opening on February 15th and continuing February 17th, 18th, 22nd, 24th & 25th at Con Colbert Hall at 8pm.

‘Pretend Sick’ tells the story of the Logan family living in the West of Ireland in the early 1990’s. An ageing but otherwise healthy Katie Logan lives with her ungrateful son Sean and daughter Mary who is treated as a servant by both her mother and brother. Mary’s future seems barren with nothing on offer except a long-term relationship going nowhere. As she marvels at young love happening around her she becomes smitten with a visitor who threatens to disrupt the selfish plans that Katie has for her family.

Living with Technology

Domhnall de Barra

People of my vintage, and older, were born into a simple world with little or no technology to help or hinder us. There was no electricity for a start and that ruled out many of the things we take for granted like light, heat, running water, functional bathrooms etc. Everything was done manually with animals providing the power to pull carts and farm machinery. Money was in short supply so ordinary people did not have anything to do with banks. Most of us would not have been allowed inside the door. Borrowing money was not an option so if you did not have the price of something you wanted to buy, you did without until you had saved up the necessary amount. Phones were scarce and very primitive and situated in phone boxes in towns and villages. This sounds like something from the dark ages but it is only a few years ago. The advent of electricity opened the floodgates and new gadgets began to appear on the scene at an alarming rate. One of the big changes is the way we  use money. We are used to paper money but it wasn’t always so. Gold and silver were the early currencies and were made into coins eventually. The coins were carried in bags and boxes but they were very heavy and difficult to transport in any great bulk. The banks then thought up the idea of holding gold in it’s vaults and issuing promissory notes to the owners. These are the bank notes we use today.  They promise the bearers that they can exchange the note for a certain amount of gold. That has gone by the wayside of course and banks no longer hold gold deposits. For a long time workers received a pay packet for their weekly wages with notes and coin inside. Most sensible people divided this money into what was needed for survival from day to day, enough to meet the bills, a little bit of saving and the rest was spent on  things like cigarettes, the pub and other little luxuries. You knew exactly where you stood financially from week to week. Then came the credit card, a very handy piece of plastic that freed us from the necessity to carry around vast sums of money. The majority of wages are now paid directly into a bank account and the credit or debit card is used to pay for most items. It allows great freedom but it also has its dangers. When taking money from a purse or wallet it is easy to see when you are running low, so you might cut back on expenses if the funds are not available. Not so with the credit card. You have no way of knowing how much you have in your account until the bill comes at the end of the month. It is so easy to get into debt but remember that the credit card companies want you to do so. That is how they make their money by charging very high rates of interest on money borrowed. This happens a lot around Christmas time and holidays. Too many people have got in so deep that they are unable to cope and end up losing everything they own. The best way to deal with credit cards is to use online banking. This allows you to see at a glance the state of your balance and you know how much money you have to play with at the touch of a button. Clear your debt as soon as possible. Paying the minimum monthly amount is not really an option because the clock is still ticking and more and more debt is mounting up. Online gambling is a particular danger that has been the ruin of many individuals. It is easy to bet large sums of money on roulette, cards or horses when all you need is the card. The gambler is always convinced that his luck is about to turn and will take reckless risks with money that isn’t real in one sense. How many homes, businesses, farms etc. have been ruined by online gambling? Too many is the answer and it could not happen so easily before the advent of technology.

Phones are another topic in the news  at the moment, especially smart phones. Mobile phones are a great asset, especially for young people who can be reached at any time. It is good to know that if a car breaks down at night, in the middle of nowhere, the mobile phone will get us the help we need straight away.  The smart phone does much more than make calls and texts. It is a mini computer and is used by most young people to engage in social media. They are continually on Snapchat or Instagram or one of the other apps talking to each other and exchanging personal information. It is an ideal opportunity for paedophiles to prey on the most vulnerable because they can pretend to be teenagers themselves and groom their victims over time. A man in Dublin, 25 years old pretending to be 13,  was jailed this week for persuading girls as young as 9 years of age to send him explicit photos of themselves. It is a nightmare for parents, many of whom don’t fully understand what their children get up to online. One thing is certain, children are spending too much time each day on their phones. The average in Ireland is 3 hours 40 minutes a day which is away above the average in any other country. It has now been suggested that people under the age of thirteen should not be allowed to have smart phones. It is a very arbitrary number because some 13 year olds are very mature while others are not. I think young people should be educated at school on the uses and abuses of smart phones and there definitely should be a completely phone free period during the day. There are no easy answers because we are sailing in unchartered waters and we have no knowledge of the currents or the prevailing conditions. All we are sure of is the water is full of predators so we need to be vigilant. Living with technology is a double edged sword.