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IT was Valentines Day 1989, when Dad placed an 'anonymous' message in the personals for me that said "You're the best thing since Hurricane Liza".

Teenage mortification aside, it was sweet. He was working in England at the time and he was sorely missed. I still have that old and yellowed newspaper ad.

That's the thing with the classifieds: every ad has a story to tell, just think of all the never-worn wedding dresses for sale.

Whether people are reaching out or cashing in, it's a world in flux.

You'll find them selling up, breaking up, moving in or moving out. Life in the small ads marches on.

And now with the classifieds no longer restricted to print, or a particular edition published once a week, there is a huge community doing business and finding love, all day, everyday, online.

You can look for a job, buy a car, find a house, have extra marital sex, find a surrogate mother, learn how to dress like a woman . . . although you are a man . . . it's all online, just look in the classifieds. There are sites like Ebay, or Buy and Sell, for the commercially minded, the super successful Daft for people on the move, or Gumtree and Craigslist for the more community spirited, where you'll find stuff, lots of advice and occasionally, dragons.

The popularity of these sites has awoken some vocabulary I thought our capitalist country had forgotten. I'm referring to words like 'Barter', 'Swap', 'Exchange' and the most unusual of all 'For Free'. It's like the zeitgeist is socialist, online and hidden in the classifieds.

One of the biggest success stories in terms of the 'For Free' boom is the Free Trade section on DublinWaste. ie.

Only a year old and with a million hits since its launch, it shows that freebie fever is alive and well in Dublin. People place an ad, Offered or Wanted and wait for the response.

To date, there has been a 70%-71% uptake on the items offered, primarily furniture.

"There is a feel-good factor to the site because it's environmentally sound to reuse things which are still of good quality and people can pick up, or pass on, items for free, " says senior executive officer, Hugh Coughlan.

In the past, people have given away conservatories, pianos, fitted kitchens and one DJ gave away his entire mixing desk, worth thousands of euro, because he was moving country. Although such great acquisitions are quite rare, you can never be sure what you will find in the Classifieds.

And after reading hundreds of them, I've learned one thing for sure; sometimes the least words hint at the best stories.


For Sale

'African Grey. 4yrs old, talking & tame, comes with cage, 800' Dean, an office manager, Dublin, is selling his beloved parrot, Bonanza "I decided to sell Bonanza, my African Grey parrot, because I'm currently between jobs and could be moving either to Thurles or London. The apartment I am in at the moment has space for him but I could have to move somewhere that may not allow me to have pets. If I don't sell him, I'll have to find another job in the Dublin area.

"The parrot was a Christmas present to me from an ex. I had just come back from St Lucia, and had visited a parrot sanctuary where I fell in love with them.

"African Greys make excellent companions and are really affectionate. They will sit on your shoulder all day, and will try anything that you may be eating (obviously you have to be careful) but they like to feel like they are part of the family.

"They are extremely territorial as well. They tend to bond with one person, usually the person who feeds them or tends to spend most of their time with them.

Bonanza is also an extremely nosy bird.

To stop him from being bored when I am out of the house I tend to leave a radio or TV on.

The parrot is quite mild with his behaviour, however he has managed to pick up a few 'choice' words . . . if he doesn't like you he tends to stare at you and then say 'F**K Off ' and then when you are leaving the room he will mimic the closing of the door and shouts "Bye bye".

"The funniest story was when my friend who was a little afraid of the parrot called over, but I let Bonanza out of his cage anyway and he stared at my friend, with a really evil look. He then just stood there and flapped his wings really slowly, in a menacing way, which was weird because he has never done it since.

"I'll be really upset when I sell the parrot, so much so, that on a previous occasion I placed the ad and then retracted it because he means a lot to me. But I also have to be realistic in life and it may actually work out better for Bonanza if he got a new home with someone that would have more time for him."

deancross@hotmail. co. uk

For Sale

'A 1983 Ford hearse, 2.9 petrol engine, v6 auto.

A real eye-catcher, ideal conversion' Stephen, a painter and decorator from Dundalk, has pimped his ride, a hearse, and now wants to sell it "I got the hearse from a friend who's a mechanic. He told me it was going to be scrapped, so I bought it. My original idea was to customise it, like I'd seen on Pimp My Ride in the States, which I thought would be cool. They're getting very popular now. Even the young girl in Six Feet Under has a green converted hearse. I changed my mind when I took it to a couple of vintage shows and people suggested I leave it as a hearse, which I did, but didn't end up having much luck trying to sell it. Then a couple of guys tried to get me to sell it for stock car racing but I thought it was too good for that, so I didn't sell it to them.

"I've had it for 18 months now and I've decided to customise it after all because I heard that the Goths and New Agers are going mad for them in England. It's been sprayed purple, lined with plywood and carpeted it on the inside. I'm going to get the windows tinted black and I've put speakers and blue neon lights in the back, which light up at night and look deadly. I put the ad up on Gumtree and the Local Trader. The strangest replies were from girls who wanted to fulfill some fantasies in it and there was a weird one from a guy in Africa, but I think that was a con.

I'd sell it for 4,000. I think it's class."

sfergus@yahoo. co. uk


'We are a youth group who are embarking on putting together a short production of Starlight Express. We are seeking costumes for this production. can anyone out there provide us with costumes' Liz, a support worker with the 66th Naomh Eoin Scout Group in Clontarf appeals for costumes after a fire destroyed the group's headquarters "We have has always been creative around costumes. Being advocates of recycle, reuse and reduce, for previous musicals we raided grannies' wardrobes and looked in jumbles sales, Penney's bargain bins, anywhere really, to make up costumes, so over the years the group had quite a collection of stuff gathered.

"But Starlight Express was to be quite different as it is performed on rollerblades. So, in consultation with the group leaders we decided to put an ad up on Dublin Waste and Buy and Sell to see if anybody had anything we could use to our benefit. It was a case of waiting to see what would happen.

"Unfortunately there's actually a very sad story to this: four weeks ago our scout den in Clontarf was set on fire. The den was virtually destroyed and its contents, including the dressing-up box and costumes, are gone. The local community has been very supportive and the local church and school have offered the use of their halls "But we are totally back to scratch.

The youth members are devastated.

Something that was going to be so exciting for them has been wrecked. All of their bits and pieces have been destroyed. We had started to gather brightly coloured leggings and kneepads, footless tights, roller blades, things like that and the youth members had started to practise their rollerblading.

"So will the show go on? For the moment no decision has been made, the group council have to decide. The adults are so consumed with getting the den repaired and back up and running that Starlight Express has understandably had to take a side step.

"But we know that the youth members would still like to do it."

deancross@hotmail. co. uk

Desperately Seeking

'Hi, I'm looking for my dad that I have lost contact with.

Philip O'Brien born November 1941. I am in Canada and need to find him. If you recognise him, please reply. Thankyou' Dawn Carson, pharmacy technician, Vancouver Island, Canada "I placed the ad to try and find my dad, Philip O'Brien. I am hopeful that a relative or friend may see the ad by chance one day, and contact me. Why am I looking for my dad?

Well, to give some background: my mom Judy is Irish-Canadian and as a 20-year-old she worked in Manchester, for Kellogg's, which is when she met my dad Philip, who is Irish and originally from the west of Ireland. He was a foreman for the telephone company in Manchester, and lived in Moss Side. They met through a mutual friend, Kathleen Wade (nee McHugh) from Co Galway. Kathleen worked for Kellogg's as well, and lived in the same building as mom, in Chorlton cum Hardy. Kathleen's boyfriend, now husband, Thomas Wade, was Philip's best friend.

"I may never know exactly what transpired with my mom and Philip. They did not marry and she was very young. When she had me in Manchester on 8 June 8, 1968, she returned back home to Vancouver, Canada, that summer, with me. She raised me on her own. Being so far away made it impossible for any further contact with my dad.

"So far I've had two replies from Gumtree, one from Craigslist, one from the Manchester Evening Post and that is about it. Unfortunately none of the replies have given me any new information or direct leads to Philip.

"Next, I plan on retrieving Philip's birth certificate to find the family's information from there Philip's birth month is definitely November but I am not 100% about the date.

I think it is 4 November 1941. I feel a strong connection with Philip. If he is still alive, I really think we should say hello to each other at least once. This journey isn't about judging people's choices from the past, it's about healing and being positive . . . for all of us."

dawncarson2005@hotmail. com

House Swap

We are a family seeking to do a house swap with a family in Dublin. We are open to areas, however prefer the south side as that is where family are located.

We are a professional couple with 3 young children. We would like to swap our home in Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. This is 2.5 hours from Auckland. We are 50 metres from the beach. The Mt is regarded as the best beach in New Zealand. We would like to swap for 3-4 weeks between Apr08 and Sept-08. More details can be provided if requested. Thanks Jeremy and his Irish wife Yvonne are looking to swap one dream home for another, so they can enjoy a holiday close to their family and friends "I met my wife Yvonne, who is Irish, when we were both working at an investment bank in Dublin. It was a whirlwind romance and after 18 months she decided to come back to New Zealand with me and give it a go. Eight years and three kids later we still live in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. I'm a partner in an accountancy and consultancy firm and Yvonne is a busy mother. We're planning on coming back to Dublin to hang out with her large family who are living in Dundrum.

Yvonne has seven siblings and 20 nieces and nephews.

Last time we were over there were only three of us and we stayed with family but this time it's a different kettle of fish. Lots of our friends in New Zealand house-swap to see new places and we've always been interested in how it all works. So we put the ad up on Gumtree. A house swap would give us the family facilities we need and would make the holiday very affordable. Our house in New Zealand has five bedrooms and is 50 metres from a fantastic beach, plus we'd let people use the car, surfboards, bbq, mountain bikes, you name it. In return we'd like a house on the southside, which is close to family and friends. We're dying to get an Irish fix of Guinness, Grafton Street, beautiful old architecture, the Gaiety Theatre, pub snugs and Leinster rugby (given the All Blacks failed yet again).

"Since putting the ad up we've had a few funny replies . . . one asked if the wife was included in the swap."

jcurragh@lwc. co. nz

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Back To Top >> 18/11/2007

DID YOU EVER KNOW THAT YOU'RE MY HERO? A woman with real heart
I'VE BEEN a huge fan of Dolly
Butik for every occasion
BUTIK IS a unique New York City
Curvy Chic, plus sized style
ACCORDING to the basic principles of economics,

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