Winners and winers

Back in Ireland for summer as a thirty-something that has lived away for nearly five years, I can look on society with an unbiased and fresh aspect and there’s an invisible line that could be drawn among my peers in Ireland today. The walkers and the winers.

The walkers have imaginably emerged as a symptom of recession, when gym memberships became a luxury and not an assumed right. They walk, run, cycle, and jog, all the time, regularly entering 5 and 10k races as a pastime.  They intimidate the lazy among us with their luminous trimmed runners and swish running gear. They are likely to drop down at the side of an open park or layby and get into plank position for two or three minutes, unaware and un-fussed by their surroundings. They’ve joined the local boot camp and are adept at using kettle bells and weights. They claim that their day wouldn’t be complete without their morning run or their evening walk and threaten the meek among us who enjoy an ice-cream as we stroll casually in the park and watch them stretching their hamstrings on every kerb and bench in sight. To add shame, they insist on using refillable bottles to save the environment, see!…..intimidating.

The winers are not so intimidating, they’re a welcoming group and can be easily spotted in supermarkets and petrol stations and rarely or never seen hanging around parks or laybys, unless there’s a bottle bank nearby. Now it’s not like I walk around the supermarket with the sole purpose of looking in other people trolleys, I just take an interest as I’m filling my own trolley up, what people have in theirs and for the winers it’s just the staples like, ham, Goodfellas pizza, cheese, bread, milk and wine.   Yes, wine gets right in there and has its own budget despite efforts to reduce the grocery bill, because mammy needs her go-go juice at the end of the day, particularly when the kids are off school, or in school, or Christmas, weddings, weekends, funerals, concerts, Skype calls, the list continues.

Winers are clever, perhaps even more clever than the walkers are they can convince you that you too need to ‘unwind, chill-out, relax, put your feet up’, all these terms which are now euphemisms for casual alcohol consumption. These long bright evenings brings them out, as they take the opportunity to use the patio furniture and complete the picture with…………….a bottle of wine.   Family BBQ’s are rife and there’s nothing like getting everyone over at the weekend, throwing a few sausages on the BBQ and guess what, opening………..a bottle of wine.   Good news, bad news, no news, all celebrated the same way, sit down and open……………a bottle of wine.

Living in Muslim countries for nearly five years, is not without its side effects and the restricted availability of alcohol does reset your sense of normalcy and suddenly you find yourself shocked at the amount of wine purchased and presumably drank on a daily basis by people in Ireland today. Nothing as pure…… however not being a tea-totaller myself, I am amazed at how the usual question when visiting a house of ‘tea or coffee?’ has turned to ‘red or white?’

As rates of depression in Ireland soar, it beggars the question are we drinking ourselves into a blue funk? Are those wearing the luminous trimmed Asics invariably happier that those ‘chilling out’ with Wally’s Hut?   Surely, any measure would prove that an evening scoffing pate and cheese, washing it down with crisp, cheap, chilled white wine whilst whining with your buddy (real or imagined) about your muffin top, his family and the economy in general is far better entertainment than an evening of squashed toes, excess sweat, and laboured breathing doing those last 2k.

Studies show that all this walking can often lead to jogging and eventually running, at first striving to complete 5k and before long becoming totally addicted and signing up for the 10k. They become obsessed, downloading apps, researching correct shoes and in severe cases walking up early in the morning to do it.

So beware, stay clear, unwind, chill-out, relax, put your feet up and open …………….your mind to a happier life.



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