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Friday, 17 May 2013

Iceland. A terrible beauty.

I have just about recovered equilibrium after a very heated telephone call  with  my bank. My "Relationship Manager" to you.. There are  many such calls these days, featuring  mortgage, overdrafts, repayment plans, direct debits and that sort of thing.. I do not actually  let it drive me to drink, but do need  take myself to a darkened room to still  my soul after.. This is the new reality these post boom  days.  Financial arrangements have to be re negotiated, and the banks seemingly have to be managed, not to say  wrestled with,  every step of the way. The Bank comes to the table with  a refusal to commit to any arrangement, doublespeak that touches on psychosis and a mix of timidity and cunning to cloud every exchange. I have threatened Ombudsman, the Banks own customer complains syteyms,  the Airwaves (Joe Duffy!)  and I have prevailed but probably lost about six months from my allotted life span on  each bruising encounter. And then there is Iceland. They took this bull by the horns. They did it.. They decided, they acted, bankers/politicians jailed, debt wrote down, an end and a beginning.

I listen to a man describe his dealing with his Mortgage Providers on said  Joe Duffy show  during the week. He is forthright, memorable.  He  jumped through every hoop they placed for him. He submitted  the intimate minutiae of his daily spending on his family,  bowed to the minimum payment they demanded, paid and paid  and decided finally to stop.  He would not continue to deprive his young children, in order   to exist.  There was no end in sight to the deprivation required  before they were grown and he spent.. He would not live like that. He recited a litany of frustrations in attempting to  sell his house.  When he found a buyer, the Bank continued to prevaricate, would not consent to the sale, wanted cast iron proposals as to the remainder of the debt.  So he has taken himself to the UK and is filing for bankruptcy there. Lucky he to be in a position to do so, I suppose. Many people are not,  and must continue fighting a  rear guard action with Banks,  scattering these   mongrel  dogs as they circle.  I think longingly of Iceland.

Later on  the radio  programme, there is the cluster of voices wanting to stick him and people like him to the bargain he made, to the  bed he is to lie on. Hmm,  these people are always the lucky ones, the timid ones, who have not engaged with the boom economy, or did not have to, I think.  Moral hazard, strategic default  and such phrases  uttered unthinking  in denial of boom, bust, bank speculation and rescue. It is tedious, pointless  to hear and I may have to go to the darkened room again. And  think longingly of Iceland.

The boy comes slouching towards his junior cert, a terrible beauty. He has after school study, a determination not to strain himself and  last minute maths grinds to sustain him.. . He tells me that his maths teacher is still "doing  new stuff" on the course. He tells me that he "doesn't get most of the  stuff"  she teaches. She is quite as unenthusiastic about him. He tells me he " like actually  get's it" when the headmaster  in the school takes the maths class in in her absence. He is having late eureka moments with his grinds teacher.

 He is in fact  incapable of applying  himself unless regimented, nailed  to desk and books.  And then there is the Tech Graph teacher, who hauls the absent minded ones in for extra tuition on Fridays, and brought  the boy's mark up to an A because he WILL teach every boy his subject, no exceptions, and so he told me at the parent teacher meeting. I pay for after school study, I pay for grinds. If there is a problem I am told it lies with the child. He is not the only one such. I can think of  some very obvious solutions here. More tough decisions that will never be taken. The boy takes Sunday off,  needs "downtime"   " knows what he is doing" he  calls  over his shoulder as he speeds of on his bike.Hmm  Yeah, a rough beast  towards Bethlehem indeed. . (Apologies to Yeats)

The summer continues to tease us  with a glimpse of ankle, a flash of bra strap, before the cold curtain of winter falls again. My husband is our weather man. An optimistic one at that.. He taps his father's gleaming,  polished  Barometer in the hall, and pronounces the real summer to be  imminent,  starting on mmm  Saturday in fact.  He tells me I have no patience when I call him on it.  Just wait he says, this year it WILL come. It WILL.. I ask the oracle if he thinks they might let me in to Iceland. "Why not" he says "lucky to get you. Me too. Where you go I go. And there's the Midnight Sun you know, summer with a twist, night that's not. You'd fit right in"