Back in the dark dark days of 2012, when the IMF went door to door with hoovers looking for sofa change and young adults bull-rushed barriers of weeping parents to swim to England or America…
Back in the dark days of 2013, when men in leather jackets and pointy shoes sat behind minimalist desks in town centres and offered to buy your gold and every shop contravened EU consumer laws by having year round sales…
Back in the grey days of 2014, when everything was still shit but a bit less so and the first thing that came into your head when you heard the word Drogheda wasn’t ‘unemployment black hole’…
Drogheda had something other towns didn’t. It had a one euro local paper.
Poor bastards from the midlands would hear about the one euro local paper and half run all the way to Drogheda to get some local news they could bring back and sell on the black market.
Savages from the whesht would clomp to the Pale and surround the library grunting and braying against the walls before it opened on a Wednesday morning, just to get their learned one to read it to them for free. It was something to take back home in a time of darkness. It was a rekindling of the seanachaí.
Families would huddle closer together on the settee as it burned around them, providing warmth and light. The sole purpose of their existence a photocopy of the big word search in the Drogheda Independent from times of yore. “Practice!” an elder would snarl before driving a solid gut punch home to the nearest child. “One day there will be a better future. The word search will return. You need to be ready.”
“What was it like grandpapa?” a young boy might ask. “What was it really like?” The children would huddle closer as the elder spun tales of golden times. A decadent Drogheda and a time when spending a whole €2 coin on a paper wasn’t considered the demented actions of an twisted mind. Grandpapa’s voice would tremble and his breath wheeze as he recalled scenes of decking and gas heater, hipsterless cafes, flying to Cork and not knowing there was horse in the meat. But then he’d snap to. Refocus. Schmack the nearest youngster on the head.
“YOU NEED TO BE READY! NO SLACKING! A DAY WILL COME WHEN THIS ONE EURO PAPER WILL GO BACK UP TO TWO EURO. AND THAT’LL MEAN ONLY ONE THING – THEY’LL HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY THE WORD SEARCH MAN.”
“What’s a word search man grandpapa?”
“HE’S A SPECIAL MAN YOUNG JAYDEN! SMARTER THAN A BOOK, CLEVERER THAN A DOCTOR, STREETWISER THAN A PUNK. HE’S WHAT MADE THIS TOWN GREAT ONCE. HE’S WHAT MY GRANDAD AND MY GRANDAD’S GRANDAD DIED FOR! HE’S WHAT I’LL DIE FOR. HE IS EVERYTHING.”
Today that day returned. The big word search is back in the Drogheda Independent. The recession is now officially over. Every week two of the brightest minds will win a €50 voucher for the local shopping centre. They’ll be gazed at in the street as the Hawkings of our time.
The Drogheda Independent is now €2 again. The word search man is back living in Millmount, watching over us. Tell the children they can unemigrate. It’s over. Thank god.