Category Archives: we’re bocht altogether

Ears Filled With Soap

Responding on Twitter to a video in which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave an explanation for his decision to suspend Parliament in September – a move which critics said was aimed at stopping MPs debating Brexit – Hugh Grant called him an “over-promoted rubber bath toy”….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is your child bored at bath-time? Does he find pouring water out of little beakers repetitive? Does his little toy boat insist on listing onto its side? Does he have no trouble, among all the suds, in finding Nemo?

What he needs is Boris Duck. Plastic yet oddly likeable, the Boris has now supplanted the Theresa Submarine as Britain’s leading bath toy, perhaps because his hairstyle resembles a loofah.

And why not. The Boris is virtually indestructible, a bathroom Captain Scarlet. Push him down and he wil pop back up. Land him in hot water and it will not harm him. Pour cold water on him and it will just run off.

As with all bath toys, there is absolutely nothing inside his head, but that does not seem to detract from his appeal.

Try him out. Lie back in the warmth and comfort and release him from your grasp. Watch him sail away, gaze fixed straight ahead, towards the end with the plughole.

 

Bags Full Of Crumbs

Mr Banks had had dreams of walking with giants.

And of carving his niche in the edifice of time. He had felt the thrill of totting up a balanced book, a thousand ciphers in a row. When gazing at a graph that showed the profits up, his little cup of joy had overflowed.

He had ground, ground, ground at that grindstone, a sentence that sounds better in the present tense.

But years of daft lending, stupid investments and the previously unknown fact that the word “banker” derives from an old Irish word meaning “thick as porridge” had all caught up with him. The mortgages he had granted had been on houses of cards, the developers he had funded had been under-developed, the seed capital he had provided had been planted on stony soil, or possibly eaten by the bird-woman’s birds. He had backed a company that sold cranberry-flavoured whiskey, which was unfit for drinking, even by Americans.

He had traded in futures, whatever they are, and they were going to cost him his.

Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank had no money left. Tomorrow morning there would be a run on the bank.

Which was why he now sat in the great marble hallway outside the office in which he would shortly meet his fate.

The door opened, and he was called inside, to be meet the Irish Minister for Finance.

“Ah, Banks,” said the Minister. “We’re going to have to take this very seriously.”

Here we go, thought Mr Banks. “What are you going to do?”

“We’re going to take over your bad loans, guarantee your bank, and repay all of your creditors.”

“Who’s we?”

“The Irish people, of course. A couple with a massive mortgage. A family on the dole. A man with one leg named Smith. People like that.”

“Won’t they object?”

“If they do, they can go fly a kite.”

“And what’s going to happen to me?”

“Well, obviously you’ll have to go. But we won’t sack you, we’ll let you retire, on a massive pension.”

Mr Banks was stunned. Jane and Michael could stay at their private school. Mrs Banks could stay on her endless committees. They wouldn’t have to get rid of their French au-pair, Marie Popin.

“Aren’t you going to punch a hole in my hat?”

“Er, what?”

“Punch a hole in my bowler hat. It’s the greatest punishment that a banker can face.”

The Minister stared at him, and just for a second Mr Banks could see deep, deep anger in his eyes.

“Is that so?” said the Minister. “Well, that explains an awful lot.”

The Great Fall

In the old USSR the Communist Party took over all businesses and ran them. Badly. 1970s UK socialism tried the same thing, where various industries were nationalised and run by the Government. Badly.

These methodologies didn’t work, mainly because the disincentivised populace didn’t either. They gave us laziness, they gave us corruption, they gave us shoddy workmanship.

They gave us a mystery inside a riddle inside an enigma, when all they’d been trying to make was a doll inside a doll inside a doll.

Our Government opted not to follow that path. They went the capitalist route, where big businessmen could do what they liked, unregulated, as long as they let the Taoiseach call them by their first name and brought him for the occasional game of golf. Senior public officials were let into the scheme with huge salaries , ridiculous freedom as regards expense claims and the knowledge that if they got too greedy they would be let retire early on giant pensions, instead of being fired out the door of their department like a drunken cowboy being hurled headfirst out of a saloon.

This methodology didn’t work. It gave us laziness, it gave us corruption, it gave us shoddy workmanship.

So we’ve turned to Communism. We have nationalised our banks, taking the debts incurred by them upon our own shoulders while letting much of those boards remain in place. We will, for years and years to come, run the banks. Badly. But if you’re a writer of stuff that you like to delude yourself is funny, then yesterday was the final straw. The government’s collapse was like one of those 1960s bedroom farces, with lots of whispering, hidden liaisons, misunderstandings and with the main character running about clueless with no trousers on.

It’s just my luck. The government has nationalised comedy. And are brilliant at it.

Some Words of Norman Wisdom

In the beginning came the Vikings.

They came to Ireland in their longboats and longcoats and tried to take us over. They failed, fled back to the lands of fjords and abba, and no longer exist.

Next came the Normans. A load of people with names like Richard FitzRichard and Percy de Courcey arrived armed with Strongbow cider and had a go at running our country. They too are gone, vanished from the planet, remembered only in the occasional use of Norman as a first name for children who then face a life of slagging at school.

The English came next, and here the thread of my theme starts to unravel a bit since it is hard to claim that they no longer exist, especially since they are playing cricket on my TV at the moment. They have, however, lost their empire and find hilarious ways to get knocked out of the World Cup, so the central plank of my argument is still sound, and it is this.

We are the geographical equivalent of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Anyone who tries to enter us (er, I may come back to re-word that sentence later), pillage us or take our assets ends up cursed.

The EU have had a half-hearted go at ruling us from afar by bombarding us with treaties which we calmly bat back at them. In reprisal we invade their resorts with stag parties, people who drink while their kids fall into the pool and something known as the craic. We are destroying their currency right now, without even trying very hard.

The IMF are here now. Like Indiana Jones they have slipped in through a series of traps and spears (their route from the airport took them through the inner city) and intend to plunder what little cash we have left, take away our quangoes and put us on display for all the world to wonder at (mostly wondering “how the fuck did they lose so much money?”).

Good luck with that.

They should reflect that there was another organisation called the IMF, that the Mission Impossible group were actually known as the Impossible Missions Force, and IMF was printed on the folder out of which Jim used to take the pictures of his team (why did he have to do that, by the way, just how bad was his memory?). The current IMF may well come to find that this is an impossible mission, that within five years they will leave with their bailout between their legs, fleeing in terror from our brazen political lying, our brass-necked sense of entitlement and our relentless freckles.

The infiltrators of King Tut’s tomb met the curse of the Egyptian mummy. Wait till the IMF meet the Irish mammy.

Bata Fada

Tinson1 has been baton-charged!

Those of you who live in Ireland will have seen the yesterday’s TV footage of the Students’ Protest. I should explain to overseas readers that the country known as the Land of Saints and Scholars could not, of course, have University Fees, as that would discriminate against those who could not afford them. What we do have instead is a Registration Charge, using the kind of linguistic manoeuvring that got us the reputation as a Land of Scholars in the first place (both domestic rates and car tax have also been abolished in the past, and been replaced by annual charges which very quickly grew to a sum very like the tax they were supposed to replace). The Registration Charge currently stands at 1,500 Euro per annum.

Anyway, it is widely believed that the Fees Charges will be increased in the upcoming Budget to 3,000 Euro, as it’s important that we donate as much money as possible so that the Government can keep its State Cars, Government Jet and Ministerial Pensions. The Third-level students organised a Protest March to Government Buildings yesterday and Tinson1 joined in, which was sweet of him since it is us who pay the charge and not him.

The largely peaceful, cheerful, noisy protest reached the line of policemen outside Government Buildings and then things went wrong. Some students threw eggs, some threw beer cans, some students got into the lobby of the Department of Finance. The Gardai decided to wade into the crowd with batons and horses, and it was during the ensuing scramble that Tinson1 was hit over the shoulder with a baton.

How would you react to such jackboot tactics? He was thrilled. Mrs Tin said he arrived home beaming, and when I got home from work he raced out of his room to tell me about it, almost sparking with vibrant excitement.

We watched the news on every available channel last night, the Tinkids glued to it in the hope of seeing Tinson1, preferably in the act of being thumped. I said little during this, but I looked at the savage anger on the faces of many of the Gardai as these middle-aged men lashed out at people barely two years out of childhood and felt that a better writer than I could use it as a metaphor for how our generation has treated the one to come.

The post title is in Irish, by the way. Back when I was at school and corporal punishment was still allowed teachers used to brandish their “bata fada” if we misbehaved. The words mean “long stick”.

The long stick is still around, it’s just used more selectively now.

Naughty Step Again

Once again we Irish have been very, very bold.

Following this week’s kidnapping of a bank official’s wife and the subsequent robbery from the AIB branch where he worked, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern suggested charges for customers withdrawing cash at ATMs, as it’s for this reason that banks have to carry so much money. While he later backed down about the charges, he did insist that we should move more towards a cashless society.

In short, bank robberies are our fault, because we selfish feckers want access to our money. The government, to be fair to them, are doing their best to change this situation by taxing us and running our economy in such a way that we have less and less money to want access to, but still we demand what little we have, forcing the poor banks to stock money instead of carrying out proper banking functions, such as refusing credit, paying themselves bonuses and trying to find ways around the salary cap imposed on their chief executive.

Now many people would claim that the ever-increasing crime rate might be due to a police force that’s too small and under-resourced, or to backlogs in the court system, or to the revolving door system of prisons, because there are too few of them. These people might suggest that the blame lies at the feet of someone who could remedy some of those problems – a Minister for Justice, for example.

The sheer cynicism of these people is typical of what makes Ireland grate instead of great. Mr Ahern is a political and intellectual colossus. Admittedly he has not yet got to grips with the problems of drug-wars, increased paramilitary activity and a growing knife-culture, but he has brought in an inspired piece of legislation which means that grown men and women cannot buy a bottle of wine at a minute past ten on a Saturday night. If Dermo says we’re not worthy then worthy is what we are not, and if that phrase seems a little unwieldy then a shit is what I do not give.

Besides, he has a point. Housebreaking would not take place if we didn’t insist on filling our homes with TVs, laptops and small amounts of jewellery. Car theft would not happen if we didn’t all have cars. Muggings would not occur if it weren’t for our ridiculous insistence on walking the streets in broad daylight.

And what about political corruption? What about the procession of politicians, many of them from Mr A’s own party, who have been caught fiddling expenses, or committing slander, or spending money raised to help their sick friend, or presenting laughable evidence to a tribunal to explain their uxexplainable cash lodgements? Is that not the fault of the politicians themselves?

Mr Ahern would say no. He’d say that’s our fault too. And he’d be right.

We voted for them.

Mea Culpa

It’s reported in today’s papers that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has accepted some of the responsibility for our current economic crisis.

In other news, Mrs O’Leary’s cow admitted that kicking over her lantern may have contributed to the Great Fire of Chicago, Buffalo Bill Cody acknowledged that shooting all the buffalo might be part of the reason why there are no more buffalo, and a Mr A. Hitler of Germany agreed that the Second World War may have been partly his fault.

Stayin’ Alive

I’m going to live forever. Or as good as.

There has been a lot of gloom over the announcement yesterday by Social & Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin that the pension age is being increased, in stages, from the current age of 65 to 68. I took a lot of encouragement, though, from the reasons that she gave for doing it. Mary says:

“It is simply not sustainable that we can afford a pension system based on the current model which allows people to spend almost as long in retirement as they do in the workforce.”

I started work in 1975 and will be reach the current retirement age of 65 in 2022. By then I’ll have been working for 47 years, so Mary believes that I’m going to live on, a drain on the state’s resources (like a human Anglo-Irish Bank), until 2069.

By which time I’ll be 112. I’m in the age group described as middle-aged, but it turns out I’m not even half-way there yet. I’ve so much time ahead of me – I may yet learn to play the piano, may yet finish watching the box-set of Lost (or indeed, may yet start watching it), may yet finish decorating the second toilet (don’t bet on it, it’s been 24 years so far).

I may even manage to post just one post which doesn’t include a spelling mistake that I don’t notice until I look at the published version.

And I certainly will be a drain on the state. Taking it that my pacemaker battery lasts eight years it will be need to be changed seven times. That’s seven hospital visits. And I’ll have to do this as I’ll need to keep as healthy as possible to keep in pursuit of my pension, which will keep being pulled away just as I get there, like a steak on a piece of string used to tease a dog.

You can’t find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because you never quite reach the end of the rainbow. The same will now apply to my pension.

But at least I’m going to live a long time. Mary said so, and she’s a Government Minister, a former teacher, and has a picture of herself with Bono on her website, so she’s probably quite clever.

Or perhaps she’s just a brainless bat talking Pollyanna-type rubbish to hide the fact (not very well) that once again the Government have found a way to take our money.

As a TD, of course, Mary started qualifying for a TD’s pension after just two year’s service. She’ll get a full Ministerial Pension after she’s been a minister for 10 years. And she’ll get these pensions for many, many more years than that, which is hard to square with her statement above.

Still, I bear her no ill will. In fact, I wish her a long and happy retirement.

I just hope it starts soon.

Simple, Really

The Government, reluctantly and under extreme pressure, is to hold an enquiry into what went wrong in the banks.

My prediction (indeed everyone’s prediction) is that they’ll spend a few million and come up with a load of generalised waffle.

I can save them that money (though they can send me some if it, if they wish). The paragraph below tells them everything they need to know.

Joe borrowed money to buy a car which he then wrote off in a crash. Though his asset is gone, he still has to repay the loan. Rich borrowed money to buy shares in Anglo Irish, which were then written off in a banking crash. His asset is gone, so he doesn’t have to repay the money.

That’s the banking culture in a nutshell. It’s better to be rich than an ordinary joe.

They’re welcome.

A Question Of Tort

Would you like to work with us here in the bank?

We are the one profession in Ireland where there have been no pay cuts, no redundancies and no company closures.

We certainly compare favourably with the oldest profession, since we’re not the ones being screwed.

Banks around the world are making money again, from lending at high rates to countries whose economies are shagged because they had to bail us out in the first place, we’ll soon be looking for more staff. So, do you have what it takes to join us? Try this aptitude test….

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  1. If you get this job, will you put on your Facebook page that you work as (a) a slurry-pit cleaner; (b) a recruitment officer for the Taliban; (c) a banker, and proud if it?
  2. Would you put any spare money you had into (a) bank shares; (b) property; (c) a biscuit-tin under your bed (we bankers aren’t stupid, you know)?
  3. Who was your childhood hero: (a) Superman; (b) Robin Hood; (c) Shylock?
  4. “Money doesn’t grow on trees”. Doesn’t this mean that the whole crisis is the fault of (a) the farmers; (b) the Public Sector; (c) spongers on the dole?
  5. At the end of A Christmas Carol, did you (a) feel filled with the spirit of Christmas; (b) rejoice that Tiny Tim lived; (c) hurl the book aside in disgust at how Scrooge had turned into a spineless wuss?
  6. Which of the following would fill you with dread: (a) the Boogeyman; (c) the Financial Regulator (I know, ridiculous, but we have to ask); (c) an increase in the higher tax rate?
  7. What’s the best thing about Big Brother: (a) the arguments when they’re drunk; (b) the tasks; (c) evictions live on TV (great idea for a whole new programme there)?
  8. “I don’t know what a Tracker Mortgage is.” Was this said by (a) an actor in a TV ad; (b) a beggar on O’Connell Bridge; (c) the Governor of the Central Bank?
  9. Would you rather be (a) taken in a Tiger kidnapping; (b) taken by Tiger Woods; (c) taken for a Tiger Beer by a property developer?
  10. Who do you like most in Buffy: (a) Buffy; (b) Willow; (c) the evil blood-sucking vampires?
  11. Nick Leeson got six-and-a-half years for bringing down Barings Bank. Seanie Fitzpatrick brought down the entire Irish banking system. Should he get (a) ten years; (b) life; (c) a substantially reduced bonus this year?
  12. The Minister for Finance says bankers’ salaries should be capped at half a million euro. Is he (a) serious; (b) kidding;  (c) out of his fucking mind?

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If you answered all C’s, welcome aboard, Brother Banker! You and I are practically soulmates.

Or we would be, if either of us had a soul.