From what I read and hear I'm not alone in that, these days, I seldom buy a newspaper.
It's not that I now read them on-line - I don't and, given my spendthrift propensities, I don't think my motive is to save money.
But it seems I now need a reason to buy one: like a visit to the dentist (and I've made a lot of those this past year or two!) when a protracted waiting period may be anticipated.
Is it because they now barely live up to their name - newspapers for they now are seldom the vehicle for news?
Perhaps it is because they have become, instead, purveyors of opinion, endless opinion and, on account of the times we are living through here in Ireland, these opinions, although most of them contradictory, are almost universally gloomy?
Notionally, I still really like newspapers and they have been a part of my life since I can remember, which is long before I became a reader of them myself.
On the rare occasions when my father was at home during one of my holidays from boarding schools, I have an abiding image of him as a truncated man where the upper potion of his body was replaced by 'The Times of London' which, in those days, had no pictures - nor even news stories - on its front page but was covered in the minute print of its 'personal' columns.
And, if one took the risk of interrupting his reading, the paper would be lowered, making a very particular noise as it crumpled onto his lap, to reveal a countenance - seeking to suppress signs of annoyance - of which the principal feature was of enormous, black-rimmed glasses which were de rigueur for serious men of the time.
And my mother's gardening and cookery books were filled with cuttings from 'The Times' who's correspondents she held in a particularly high regard - 'if it's in The Times, it must be true / good / reliable' etc., etc..............
Mr. Murdoch has since done a fine job of destroying this reputation!
But these reminiscences were not my purpose here.
What prompted these thoughts is this................
Bearing in mind my trade, we tend to light our fire with paper and off-cuts from the workshop, rather than with malodourous fire-lighters.
And these items are kept in a box beside the said fire.
And herein lies the link, or links, in my rambling thoughts.
If you can imagin it, back when I was an habitual paper buyer, the box was always full to overflowing with the most recent purchases and, thus, it was they that were first to hand to light the fire each evening.
But now that this habit has been broken, I find myself travelling back in time!
For instance, the paper that will light this evening's fire is a Sunday Tribune (now defunct - a casualty of the recession) of 19 October 2003.
I'm sure I'm not alone in being easily diverted, from whatever task I have in progress, by old newspapers and I'm sure I will find myself reading this old journal this evening until my knees ache as I am hunkered-down in front of the fire that I had set out to light.
Especially so when I note that it was none less than Michael O'Leary who was calling the then mighty Bertie, spineless, and that the picture to the right is of Clare Daly being greeted by her daughter on her release from prison - (she had been incarcerated for being a 'bin protester) - and, today, she is a Socialist Party TD and the 'bin issues' still make headlines week after week, more than eight years later!
And as I flick the pages.......(yes, I have run ahead of myself and had a peek before fire-lighting time)..........how's this for a blast from the past?
And here are two pages from the Sunday Independent of 20 January 2008 that caught my eye.
They caused me to ponder that eight months before this date, when we, the electorate, were fully aware of Ahern's dodgy financial dealings, he won a general election and a third term as Taoiseach and less than four months after this date he was forced out of office.
And three years after Kenny was regularly generating headlines of this nature, he won the largest Dail majority in the history of the state and may well be credited as the politician who destroyed Fianna Fail, the party that had kept Fine Gael out of power for all but a handful of years since the formation of the state.
But it wouldn't be true.
It was Bertie Ahern who did the job of consigning his party to the very dustbins (of history) over which Clare Daly and her party still fight.
Some things change absolutely while others never change...............it seems.