The Left Bank.

One day the woman in the bank said: ‘Why don’t you have a debit card?’

         ‘I don’t want one.’

         ‘Wouldn’t it be handy?’

         ‘How so?’

         ‘You wouldn’t have to come in here any time you need money. You could just get it at the ATM.’

         ‘Wouldn’t you be out of a job then?’

         She laughed, haughty, said: ‘Oh no, don’t worry, we’ve plenty to do.’

         ‘Still, you’re grand.’

         She seemed upset. Filled out the forms, went for the cash, printed the receipt, asked me to sign it. She took the biro back like I might steal it and threw it in the drawer. There was a bit of a queue now. A farmer with a chequebook, some lad with a bag of coins and a woman with a wired child. All held up by the lad that could have just gone to the ATM.

         Next week, she asked the same thing. And will she fill out the form?

         I told her no, you’re grand. I like cash. I know where I am, then. Them cards, sure who knows? She shook her head, filled out the forms, printed the receipt, counted the cash like she hated it. Some lad behind me was waiting to make a lodgement and another woman working there asked him why he doesn’t just use the new fancy machine in the corner. Sure ya can lodge like that now, don’t ya know? Just use your card, put in your pin, and get the receipt. No need to queue at all. No need to bother the staff, sure we’re busy.

         The following week they were in a hurry because the hours were reduced. There was a man at the counter wondering if he could lodge money into his daughter’s account. And she was in Dublin, and he was in Mayo, and how would that work? They asked him if he had online banking and he said no, not really. They had a tablet alright, but he didn’t use it much. The woman there explained all the benefits of banking on the internet and how he could do all this at home, and there was no need to come in anymore, and all he needed was the computer and a few passwords and ask the daughter the next time and she’ll set it up for him. Sound, he said, and then it was my turn to take out the cash. Well, she said, eye roll, will we get you set up with a debit card or what?

         Go on, so.

         And it arrived a week later, and it was grand, and it was pure handy like she said and I must thank her when I see her again but I don’t go to the bank much anymore. And the farmer with the cheques probably doesn’t go either, and the other man with the daughter in Dublin, or the woman with the kid, or the fella with the bags of coins. Sure, there’s no point anyway cos the bank is closed since cos there’s no need for anyone to work there anymore cos it’s all so handy now.

*

Lord of the Fingers

         ‘How are you anyway?’

         ‘Not too bad. Things gone a bit weird around here, though.’

         ‘How so?’

         ‘There was big shit there last week. Cops all over the place.’

         ‘What was goin on?’

         ‘Some fella runnin around with a knife or a machete or somethin…’

         ‘Where was he goin with that?’

         ‘I think he was chasin some other fella, and then the other fella’s fingers were cut off. Did you not see it on the paper?’

         ‘No.’

         ‘The cops were goin around lookin in all the bins?’

         ‘For what? The machete?’

         ‘No. The fingers.’

         ‘Fuck.’

         ‘I know.’

         ‘Are you still writing Plays?’

         ‘I am.’

         ‘Did you see when the government got in they didn’t quote an Irish artist? I thought that was weird.’

         ‘Why?’

         ‘The most patriotic time in Irish history since the war of Independence.’

         ‘Yeah.’

         ‘And every artist in the country couldn’t work.’

         ‘They quoted Shakespeare, did they not?’

         ‘They did. And that’s what I didn’t like.’

         ‘Why? Because he’s English?’

         ‘No. Because If you walk down the street of any dead Irish town and ask the people – how’s your Shakespeare? What’ll they say?’

         ‘I don’t know.’

         ‘They’ll say – who cares? My pub’s closed, my shop’s out of business, my house is getting repossessed, who’s got the time to talk about Shakespeare? Unless you’re in Government.’

         ‘So if they quoted an Irish Playwright they’d be doing much better?’

         ‘It means that in all the time they had to organise, and talk about speeches, that somebody, somewhere must have said: Should we quote an Irish artist? And somebody else said: “No, fuck it. Let’s go with Shakespeare.” They don’t know their audience.’

         ‘They were voted in.’

         ‘They were. Would they be voted in today?’

         ‘Doubtful.’

         ‘Exactly. There’s lads goin around here getting their fingers cut off and the government are quoting Playwrights that died six hundred years ago. I don’t see the connection.’

         ‘Me neither.’

         ‘They’ll be gone by Christmas.’

         ‘Brought down?’

         ‘Fucked out.’

         ‘What then?’

         ‘Hopefully, the next crowd will listen. Are you writing anythin lately?’

         ‘I’m sending out a new novel?’

         ‘Any bites?’

         ‘Not a thing yet.’

         ‘Is it shite?’

         ‘I don’t think so. I don’t know.’

         ‘Rejection is usually a good sign.’

         ‘Except when it’s your bank card gettin rejected.’

         ‘There’s that too. How’s the other books sellin?’

         ‘Alright. Hard to know with Amazon.’

         ‘Sure every daft bastard is writing a book these days.’

         ‘Stiff competition.’

         ‘You should write about a fella getting his fingers cut off with a machete.’

         ‘I might.’

         ‘And the fingers get ate by a dog and they have to wait for the dog to have a shite to get them back.’

         ‘Sounds like a bestseller.’

         ‘I’m tellin ya. Who needs JK Rowling, boy? Lord of the Fingers…’

         ‘Eh…’

         ‘I better go.’

         ‘Sound. G’luck.’

*

Buy Mick Donnellan’s novels by clicking here.

The forms.

 

‘Hey, Mick. Did Danny get the forms?’

‘Which forms?’

‘The mandatory ones?’

‘Eh…I’ll ask him.’

I rang Danny and he said: ‘What forms?’

‘The mandatory ones?’

‘What the fuck does that mean?

‘I’ll get back to ya.’

Later, I asked: ‘Can you clarify “Mandatory”?’

‘They’re a requirement by the regulator.’

‘And what do they look like?’

‘The forms?’

‘Yeah.’

‘They look like forms.’

‘Ok, I don’t think he got them.’

‘Why not?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Can you ask him?’

‘I did.’

‘And did he say?’

‘He said he never got them.’

‘That’s terrible. Why not?’

‘I don’t know. Is it possible they weren’t sent?’

‘No. Impossible. They’re mandatory. Can you ask him to check?’

I rang Danny, asked him to check. He said: ‘I don’t even know what the fuck I’m looking for.’

‘I’ll get back to ya.’

Later, I said: ‘No, he doesn’t have them.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Positive. He checked everywhere.’

‘That’s bizarre. They’re important forms. It’s also unacceptable.’

‘What is?’

‘Unacceptable that’s he’s not using them.’

‘But he never got them.’

‘He should have.’

‘And yet here we are.’

‘This could lead to a disciplinary.’

‘For who?’

‘Danny.’

‘Why?’

‘Because he’s not following procedure.’

‘Which procedure is that?’

‘He’s not using the forms.’

‘The ones he never got?’

‘Exactly.’

Beat.

‘Maybe we could send them again?’

‘I don’t know. I think we need to talk to HR.’

‘About what?’

‘The forms.’

Later, with Danny, he said: ‘HR rang me.’

‘About what?’

‘Forms.’

‘What did you tell them?’

‘That I didn’t know what the fuck they were on about.’

‘And what they say?’

‘They’re bringing me up for disciplinary.’

‘Why, about the forms?’

‘No. Impolite language. “Unprofessional” they called it.’

‘When are they having you up?’

‘Said they’d send out a letter.’

Week later, Danny rang, said: ‘I got the forms.’

‘Really?’

‘They came in the post this morning.’

‘Great. Belt away and start using them.’

Then the office rang, asked: ‘Where’s Danny?’

‘He’s working. He got the forms.’

‘He’s supposed to be here.’

‘Where?’

‘Here. We’re at the disciplinary meeting.’

‘Oh, did you let him know it’s on?’

‘Yes. We posted him out the appointment.’

‘I don’t think he got it.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Cos he would have said.’

‘This is unacceptable. First the forms, and now this?’

‘He got the forms.’

‘That’s not the point.’

‘It’s not?’

‘No. We need to talk to HR.’

‘I thought we did that.’

‘Can you ask Danny to come in tomorrow, for a meeting?’

‘Ok, I’ll get back to ya.’

‘He really needs to control his language.’

I rang Danny, said: ‘They want you up for a meeting tomorrow.’

‘Why?’

‘Bad language.’

‘Tell them to go fuck themselves.’

Later, the office asked: ‘What did Danny say?’

‘I don’t know, I couldn’t get through. I’ll try again later.’

 

 

Mick.

*

 

El Nino Cover-1

 

 

El Niño by Mick Donnellan Now available on Kindle –