By Mattie Lennon.

I have been collecting them, at the rate of six per annum, since 1992.

Fair play to you, your maths teacher would be proud of you, that comes to a total of 72. That’s the number I had in my possession in December 2004. Come 2005 I would have a proud collection of 78. But that was not to be. As Yuletide approached the spouse’s hints at decommissioning became an order. From mid-November she began to sound like Bertie and the Reverend Ian, rolled into one.

   My feeble attempts at semantic acrobatics were getting me nowhere. I pointed out that decommissioning didn’t necessarily mean to destroy, that to “withdraw from active service” was a definition given in “Collins’ Concise….”

   I was told, “ while you have them they won’t be withdrawn from service.”.

   My offer  ”to disable or discontinue use,” a term heard from a Northern Politician, was also shot down (if you’ll pardon the pun.)  All pleas for mitigation to “phases of decommissioning” fell on deaf ears.

   Sure enough I have been labelled a hoarder but didn’t John Morley say, “Labels are devices for saving talkative persons the trouble of thinking”.

                                           Eventually  I agreed to decommission.

But where would I start? What is the protocol in such matters?  And where would I get advice?

There is the Decommissioning Consulting Service Limited, in Ontario but they seem to be (like the Kerry Samaritans) ex-directory.

   When I tried to get the Decontamination and Decommissioning Science Consortium on the net I was informed, “ the page you requested is not available”.

   There’s a European Commission on Decommissioning but I don’t know where it’s based. I suppose Willie O  ‘Dea might know but would he tell me?

   I could get lots of data on the decommissioning of Nuclear, Gas and Oil installations. And there’s no shortage of info in the Irish media about putting everything from rusty revolvers to rocket-launchers beyond use but I was seeking information of a more specific nature.  You see every adult male has a number of what I was being asked to decommission. No, I’m not taLking about any anatomical appendages nor do I want to put out of commission my collection of the Wolf Tones’ CD’s (even the ones without Derek Warfield.)

    What I was forced to part with was a large proportion of my SHIRTS. While they were not of Charvet standard most were still in reasonable condition and had a certain sentimental value. They had been issued to me, as part of my uniform, on a yearly basis, by Dublin Bus; an august body to which I have given my sweat for more than three decades.

 It was me, the “decommissionee”, who insisted on photographic evidence.

It was a heart-breaking moment as I brought a sizeable proportion of my hard-earned collection to the Wheelie-bin for collection by the Local Authority.

I returned to count my ties to discover that I had 41. But this time the answer will be a resonant reply, which would make my Ulster forebears proud, NO…NO…NO….NO

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