In Plenary, Practice on November 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm



You know that feeling you get when you’re sure you’ve left the iron on? Or you think you might have? Or the gas. Or in K’s case, the straightener (an iron for hair). You know you’ve left the house a thousand times before and you know that to date it has always been there when you get back – a house, not the charred remains of one – but you just can’t shake the feeling that a disaster is unfolding even as you consider whether it is or not. Unfolding, that is.

And then you get the negotiation with self; well, even if it’s on it was propped up on the safety thingamy at the end of the ironing board so it won’t burn through anything. Or the straightener is on the bidet (did I mention we now have a bidet?) which neither of us has had the courage to use as yet so it’s bone dry and, as far as electrical fire risks go, approximately a zero.

But hang on a minute – what if a heavy truck should thunder past and vibrate the house? The iron could topple over onto that pile of magazines. Or the sudden swoop of one of Tarifa‘s infamous gusts through the bathroom window (was it left open or shut?) could cause the straightener to slide off the bidet and swing by its flex, landing in the little puddle of water that sometimes collects under the basin. I don’t know what that would score on the electrical fire risk scale but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be zero.

Anyway I’ve been getting that feeling a lot this week, reading the news about Ireland. I’ve only been gone about three months and already they’re talking to the IMF. I expected it to take much longer. I’m wondering whether I carelessly knocked something over as I left. You know, something fiscal. Then it occurs to me that K was there for a good two months after I had gone. Unsupervised. She was pretty fed up of Ireland at the time; in two months she could have wreaked havoc. And she’s a trained accountant!

I’ve had plenty of time to read about the Irish situation because I’ve been laid up. Some ongoing troubles for which I’m on medication have come back to haunt me. A change in the meds has hit me like the proverbial freight train and I have been feeling low – back in the place I was the last time I experienced these symptoms.

I wonder how Ireland feels; we used to be poor, then we were rich. Now we are broke. Europe‘s success story is holding out its tin cup. Those who applauded the Celtic Tiger economy – who cheered us on and held us up as an example to others – are deserting us now and taking their money with them. They are known as “the markets” although I can think of a few other names for them, and they are looking elsewhere.

If they are looking in your direction, beware.

So, Ireland must take its medicine – a four year “savings plan”, designed to placate the ravenous IMF. I can’t imagine it will be a very enjoyable plan for anyone involved (except perhaps for the markets), and lets not kid ourselves that four years will be enough for the ramifications of this crisis to have worked themselves out. More like forty. Maybe it will give the Irish a chance to think about what kind of country they want – if the markets are your master, you have made some poor choices.

My own personal IMF (the dermatologist) has me on my own plan – You must take this. It will make you feel bad. You must take it anyway. Love of country notwithstanding, I sincerely hope my individual troubles clear up long before Ireland’s national ones.

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  1. Very much hoping you both will get back on your feet soon (you and Ireland, that is). Having been very cranky about Ireland on occassion (mostly bout the weather) I am really very grateful as it gave me some options when my own country wouldn’t (and no, i didn’t phone up the IMF in your absence 😉 ). While I can give you a bit of looking after, there is very little i can do for poor Ireland right now but I will make a point of not pulling my meager savings out of the country and maybe buying a pint or two of the black stuff. Here’s to Ireland everyone

  2. Yes, a toast to Ireland! Good idea!

  3. Hope you and Ireland are back on your feet in no time. I’ve never been to Ireland, but feel a strong affinity for it because I’m part Irish.

  4. I hope it’s not the money-managing part Laurel! I’ll be fine – just a bad week. It’s Ireland I would worry about. Funny, Irish people have played it exactly by the book as far as “the markets” stipulate – educated, flexible, largely non-unionised workforce. Low taxation, high working hours and so on and so on and so on…this is the reward; bankruptcy. Makes you think.

  5. Glad to see that you are not suffering from any sort of writing impairment! A speedy recovery to both you and your homeland (oh, god, why did G.W.Bush destroy the term homeland?!).

  6. Keep your chin up Rob through this bad time for you – all things come to an end and this one will too. Be patient. Dont worry too much about Ireland. It will rise again as it has done many times through the centuries.

    Take care of yourself

  7. Long term, the smart money is still betting on you and Ireland.

    • Given everything that has happened over the last couple of years I think “smart money” might be oxymoronic, on a par with “military intelligence”…

  8. Whatever ails you and Irleand- you can still write and give your readers pleasure. Get well soon.

  9. Ireland is different to Greece though! In Ireland no one minds working, whereas in some of those Mediterranean countries getting people to work is a lost cause. Get well!

    • Not one to shy away from controversy then John? For my Greek readers, John’s telephone number is…;)

      • But wait until you get me on to Irish rugby!! My son has just been training with the Irish cricket team in India getting them ready for the World Cup next year! Still money for the good things – like sport!!

  10. Great post. I’ve been getting the same dreadful feeling lately. I’m a Canadian who lives in the UK but is currently traveling for a year. I get to live in the UK because of an ancestry visa – something they are thinking of discontinuing. These are scary times and it seems for those of us who want to be mobile, it means increased barriers.

  11. Great post. I really hope Ireland gets back on its feet soon too. I lived there during the celtic tiger and the place was going crazy with wealth. I’m said that it has gone the complete other way.
    And I hope that you get back on your feet soon too. Just know that the only way is up and you’ve been there before so you know how to get back

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