Friday, July 13, 2012

The Ombudsman's Ombudsman

...and something about its shape makes you feel safe

I was in the offices of the financial services ombudsman the other day to complain about the state of things and the queue was bleedin' massive. I took my ticket and sat in line and pretended not to see the aul wans who came in after me and were looking at me hoping I'd give up my seat to them because they're aul wans and I'm still young and virile and I was there ages and the smell of hoi polloi and pinstripe suits wasn't mixing well and I got a headache and in the end I just had to get up and leave and I was right too because there were still twenty-seven people ahead of me and one of the aul wans gave me a dirty look as she pounced on my seat and the whole experience was pretty awful so I went across the river to the office of the ombudsman's ombudsman to see if I could get some satisfaction there.

The office of the ombudsman's ombudsman is at the top floor of a tall, narrow building that looks a bit like Heather Mills' leg with windows. When you enter the building a man in an official looking hat nods to you and turns a key that opens a door to a lift. Inside the lift is one button with the letters OM bevelled into it. On pressing the button, the lift ascends to the sound of a Buddhist "Ommmmmmmm". Already you begin to feel more at peace - one with things. At the top floor, the door of the lift slides silently open and you step through a curtain of warm air that carries with it the tantalising edge of soothing aromas - chocolate and cinnamon; baby-head, the smell of your first love's knickers. Stepping into the room beyond, you are struck by how perfectly, pristinely white it all is. With no identifiable light source to cast shadows, it takes you a moment to see the shape that stands at its centre. You approach and something about its shape makes you feel safe. You lean against it and realise that, if you stand just so, you can slip into an effortless and comforting embrace. It is soft but strong to the touch. Your face is cradled, your body supported and suddenly you find yourself weeping. Slow, scalding tears run fat and silent down your cheeks but the shape, the space, the implacable office of the ombudsman's ombudsman does not judge you but listens calmly to your wordless complaint.

When at last you are finished. When all the anger and frustration and horror has been purged, you take the Om lift back down to the ground floor where you depart discretely, through a private rear exit.

As you quit the building a camera, mounted upon a pole across the street, takes your photo and adds you to a database of people who will have all of their financial affairs audited, visas revoked, communications disrupted and children deported because we are where we are and you need to just shut your hole complaining and put your shoulder to the wheel son! That's how we get it done in the new Ireland.


  1. Did you ever drop into the offices of the comptroller and auditor general? Great place. Here's some footage:

    1. I feel bad about myself for laughing so hard at that Fugger.