Since coming back from Bantry, I’ve struggled to finish anything. Life has been one giant ball of loose ends: a big snarly mess like the tangle I periodically find at the bottom of the kids’ dressing-up box. A frustrating, time-sucking knot that unravels with much breaking of fingernails and cursing and leaves me vowing never again to buy anything with string or velcro fastenings.
"What’s wrong with your new dressing-up clothes? Princesses wear smocks all the time, I promise. What do you mean it doesn’t look like a fireman’s uniform? It’s a medieval fireman, okay? Just put the robe on and hold the bucket."
On Friday I spent forty-five minutes in the bank answering questions before they would let me transfer some money for a deposit on the house we’re trying to buy. Hello, Mr Halifax? It’s my damn cash. Last time I checked it was no business of yours if I wanted to blow it all on handbags or spend it joining a cult; what’s with the inquisition?
Oh, it’s about the security, you say? Let’s hope border control doesn’t start using the bank as their model.
"I’m sorry, Mrs McCormack, your passport isn’t good enough on its own any longer. In order to let you out of the country, I’ll need you to name three things you’ve eaten for breakfast in the last week, and tell me what colour underwear you had on yesterday."
There were several protracted pauses during my Halifax grilling while the bank teller disappeared into a back room to "check with his supervisor". I suspect they were just giggling and wondering how far they could push it before I would start looking for the hidden camera, but I took advantage of the free time to work on a poem.
So I stood in the middle of the bank counting syllables on my fingers and mouthing rhyming words to myself. If you’ve ever tried to think while two small children are demanding your attention, you’ll understand that every uninterrupted moment needs to be seized. And you’ll also understand that taking two small children out in public has far greater potential for embarrassment than talking to yourself in a bank. Especially a bank where all the waiting customers have already heard a list of your direct debits and tax rebates.
In any case, I finished the poem. I went home, typed it up, and gave it to Éila’s teachers as a leaving present. Friday was the last day of school. For the next six weeks I’ll have two small children to take with me everywhere. I hope the bank doesn’t need to call me back in for more questions.