Last week there were rumours about a tall Hungarian floating around Government departments. But this week it’s official. They’re here. Some financey foreigners with even tans, white teeth and steely humourless glares have arrived in the country and will be looking at the books.
The Irish are always fascinated by what the outside world thinks of us, so for the next while we’ll be paranoid about the IMF’s impressions. Thankfully, once again I have my ear to the ground, my shoulder to the wheel and my head in my hands. A network of European contacts has procured for me the personal diary of German finance expert Wolfgang Uppenhaus, one of the IMF’s leading representatives in Ireland. This is what he wrote yesterday on his first day in the country.
Thursday 18th November – 8am
Dublin airport. The weather is cold and wet. The immigration checks are not too strict “Is it yourself” says the man at Passport Control. I confirm that I am me. When I go through Arrivals there is a man waiting with a sign. He is friendly and shakes my hand.
— The Merc is parked outside, Wolfgang.
— Thank you. You are kind to send a German car for me to make me feel at home.
He says it is not a problem. He says Ireland has many Mercedes for cabinet ministers. Then he calls them a name I do not understand but I know the words are originally from German.
The journey is many minutes to get to city centre. There is a Port Tunnel – which we helped to pay for in Germany – but it is closed because of some problem with a truck. A program called AA Roadwatch explains why but I do not understand the expression.
— Driver, what is ‘Shed Its Load’?
— It means it’s bollixed
I wish to inquire what this word “bollixed” is but we are now at the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank. I am met at the door by an official and he puts a hand to my shoulder.
— Stop! Tell me the password?
I am surprised.
— Please explain what password? I do not know any passwords.
He laughs and says I have come to “the right place”
I discover later he is making a joke. It is true the Irish are always making lots of jokes. I know they always make a laughing of Germans and our sense of humour. And our money.
The work is slow here. I am looking at the accounts for the Anglo Irish Bank but I have never seen accounts like these in my life before now. All they have is some pieces of paper with “Seanie Fitz You LEGEND!!” written on them. Also someone has drawn, with a pencil, some pictures of genitals. I think I understand better now the meaning of “bollixed”
It is time for lunch so I go to a cafe and choose a ‘breakfast roll’ even though it is many hours after breakfast! What a crazy country! But I must be careful to always be disciplined. This afternoon I am spending talking to government officials and I must represent the IMF correctly.
This government is really very strange. I have just met the Finance Minister in the corridor but he pretended he did not know who I was.
— I am from IMF, Herr Brian. You ask us for a bail-out.
— No I think you are mistaken. We do not need any bail-out.
Then he just walked away.
I have made no progress and my work here is very slow. When I say I am from IMF, they pretend I do not exist. I go to the canteen. When I open a cupboard to get a receptacle for my coffee, there is a man inside in the cupboard!! He explains that he never thought he would end up there. He looks familiar.
I need to speak to someone in charge. I look for the office of the Prime Minister. When I push open the door I see Herr Taoiseach. He is singing. I do not know the song but it sounds maybe it is called “Awful or Over”. I ask his secretary what is wrong with him.
— He is, what you would call, ‘stuck in traffic’?
— What do you mean?
— Congested. Come back tomorrow, not too early.
What a day! I am back in my hotel and tonight I will have some dinner and then read a book about fiscal prudence before going to bed. But then I hear a knocking on my door. When I open it, my driver is standing outside. He asks me how was my day and I say it would be better if I could make more progress in my work. He explains that it is not unusual for Irish politicians to wreck my head.
Then he invites me to go on something called The Lash.
Friday 19th November – 4am
I am in a place called CopperFace Jacks and it is a very fun place to be. I have drunk two Jagerbombs. We invented those in Germany. My driver tells me I am ‘Hammered’ and that Fair Play is due to me. He confirms for me that I am a Mad Yoke Altogether. A girl is talking to me but I do not understand what she is saying so I write it down as she speaks. It is something like “Jaysus lads, Coppers is only mighty lads” but I can not be sure.
I want to ask her why she has the name of her county written on her sweater but then she asks me if I am “shifting anyone”.
Then she shows me what shifting is. It is good. I like this country and hope I can bail it out again soon….