Tark And Mara Make Ireland Pay

Tark And Mara Make Ireland Pay

Ireland’s capital city blossomed unseasonably in autumnal light. A more appreciative audience might have found it quite fetching. But inside Tark and Mara Towers, a two-hundred year old Japanese Maple bonsai dropped colour bombs all over the undocumented Greek marble floors of its twelfth-storey penthome, unnoticed by its lord and mistress, who were busy plotting. Against everything. And everyone.

“And there’s more to come, too,” said Tark.

“Indubitably,” said his wafer-thin wife.

“You see, that would never have been acceptable in 2007.”

“Nor in 2008.”

“Not even then, my poisonous petit-four. That’s true. All this nonsense only came later.”

Husband and wife were pondering the global chatter regarding Ireland’s precarious position in the event of a British departure from the European Union. They had long ceased voicing their concerns about the future cost of dining in London whenever the whim overcame them; that had been resolved with a plan to dine in Paris whenever the whim overcame them instead. Mara had rechristened her erstwhile favourite festival as London Fashion So-Last-Week, and transferred her sartorial patronage to Berlin, in a move as haute as it was couture. They hadn’t yet decided what to do with Mara’s collection of antique royalist bath toys, but even a disunited kingdom wasn’t burned in a day.

Their current bugbear was a raft of international news headlines indicating that Ireland was hilarious altogether, for thinking it might bid for business that might see itself exeunting a Brexited Britain. They did not take kindly to their homeland being so denigrated in the press. After all, that was their job.

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The financial crisis had been a resounding success for the pair. In true super-rich fashion, Tark’s individual wealth had increased with every uptick in Ireland’s debt-to-GDP ratio. Mara had long past stopped bothering to keep tabs on her personal wealth. When you make €228,765 a day in royalties from being one of only four authors in Europe earning a living, thanks to your domination of the celebrity baking crime genre, nobody really notices if you’re miscalculating seed capital by a few billion.

“It didn’t bother me before,” said Tark. “All that condescension for being a good little country and doing what we were told.”

“Well, of course not, darling. How else would you have concealed everything you were doing without being told?”

“Exactly, my toxic turtledove. Or indeed what I was doing without being tolled. But it occurred to me this morning that a damaged nation could be detrimental to our finances. We can’t afford to be tarnished by a laughing stock.”

“I don’t quite follow. How is the foreign press making fun of Ireland financially bad for us?”

Tark stood to his full height, such that it was, and clasped his hands behind his back, his head brushing the underside of the bonsai’s red-and-orange canopy. He had his thinking face on, which meant he was only one skeptical thought away from shooting lightning bolts from his demonic eyebrows.

“Our fortunes are more closely aligned than we think,” he said.

Mara nodded, her frozen forehead narrowing into an infinitesimal expression of quizzicality. She angled her head to one of her cold shoulders for emphasis, resplendent in its cut-out structured military sheath.  “And yet,” she said, “we both know that the safest way to conceal success is to hide it behind a veneer of Irish pessimism and acceptance.”

“You always did say, there is no better disguise than the cap in the hand,” said Tark. “Hmmmm.”

Tark had a look of determination on his face that usually meant that either Mara was about to be swept off her feet, or a bank was about to be swept of its liquid reserves. She didn’t know which one she found more thrilling. But she wasn’t clear on where this was going. “It is a stereotype, granted,” she said. “But it works.”

Tark inhaled sharply, signifying that a cunning plan was within reach. “That’s it, my petrified sugar plum! Stereotypes. We have so many of them.”

“Yes, but what of it?”

Tark peered up through the bonsai canopy to the Venetian glass skylight above. “Isn’t it about time somebody monetised them?”

Mara wafted over to her husband and laid her hand on his arm, blood pulsing through the lucky channels in her arm which were allowed entry to her heart. “What are you proposing, my love?”

Tark And Mara Make Ireland Pay

“Well, my lethal little lark, with so many instantly recognisable Irish stereotypes, it seems to me they would benefit from being privately patented.”

Mara gasped. Somewhere deep inside her shallow torso, a forgotten artery sprang to life.

Tark acknowledged his wife’s reaction with his version of a smirk, which doesn’t bear description during daylight hours, or in the presence of small children. “From now on, being Irish won’t be a character trait. It’ll be a commodity. One that only I may license and distribute.”

“But my lucrative Lothario! How could we possibly police it? On a national scale, let alone a global one?”

Tark whipped his 24-carat gold laptop out from under the lid of the baby grand piano; he pressed three keys with a flourish and it obligingly displayed a spreadsheet with pre-loaded currency symbols. “It’s about watching the right people, not prosecuting the wrong ones. Anyone within the island of Ireland – which obviously excludes tax exiles, or anyone with a net worth under our daily spend on personal assistants – isn’t worth suing. Ditto Eurozone peasants, citizens of Scandinavia, or reality TV stars outside certain designated areas of Los Angeles.”

He typed a number followed by a shedload of zeros and shut the laptop with a flourish. “But the very moment a Russian oligarch gets drunk–”

“Or a billionaire offers hospitality they don’t really mean!” Mara interjected.

“Or a member of royalty apologises when someone else bumps into them-”

“Or the head of a privately owned conglomerate with dubious wartime origins talks incessantly about the weather-”

“Or a property developer gives a completion date which can’t possibly be met!” finished Mara.

“I’ll be there,” said Tark, circling his wife’s waist with his hands. “Lawyers at the ready. The jaws of our coffers open and ready to inhale damages.”

“Oh Tark.” Mara sighed in languid ecstasy. “Every day I think I couldn’t possibly love you more. But then you go and double our money.”



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  55 comments for “Tark And Mara Make Ireland Pay

  1. October 27, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Worryingly these two are vaguely familiar from my years in the City as a lawyer. I assume they each drive personalised Eritreans and have their clothes spun directly from GM silkworms that carry just a hint of their own dna to make then super compatible with their skin?

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2016 at 9:43 am

      You didn’t represent them, did you, Geoff? I sincerely hope you weren’t responsible for the time they won that civil rights for racist bankers case. Or at least if you were, I hope you’d keep quiet about it. In the meantime, they’re very grateful for the shout-out for their GM silkworm business. It’s difficult to get publicity when you’re fighting off advances from Gwyneth Paltrow every week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 27, 2016 at 2:02 pm

        I’m one of the Goop Loops myself so everything is organically sourced especially man made. I start the day with knit your own muesli, follow with some stripped pine cappuccino and round it off with ethically sourced and sympathetically killed fair trade chilli chips. I guess you’re the same.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 27, 2016 at 2:23 pm

          Am I that obvious? Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

          • October 27, 2016 at 3:46 pm

            I believe being transparent is the new opaque. You, dearest Tada! Are translucent and being trans anything these days is cool so just plug in and twinkle, you know it makes sense.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. October 27, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Absolutely briliant. And fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Thank you, dunnasead. Tark and Mara are long used to their inexplicable popularity. It’s the one thing they never tire of.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. October 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    It had to happen and Tark’s your man for the job! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. October 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I always enjoy these two. I have no idea why, but I do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I have tried to analyse them, but they fight me off every time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        Maybe you can talk them into paying you off.


        • October 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm

          I’m afraid they’d see me coming a mile off. Perhaps if I went cap in hand? They are already appalled at my wardrobe.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. October 27, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Hehe. No shoddy workmanship in this post.


  6. Liberty On the Lighter Side
    October 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Bitterly seductive and moreish, like dark chocolate – I loved that. You are a clever girl! (being a little less clever I laughed at the celeb baking crime genre bit, food’s a bit of a theme here now me thinks).

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Whatever’s in vogue for 5 minutes, Liberty, Mara’s got her finger on the pulse (if not on her own, which gave up bothering a long time ago). But anything fashionable for longer than 5 minutes is bound to bore her. That’s why she’s so good at genre fiction. She’s in and out before the literary critics even notice.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. October 27, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Brilliant! However I fear there’s a Healy-Rae we haven’t met yet that might have this sown up already.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. October 27, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I’m starting to get scared of this blog. I can picture you in five years time, overwhelmed by the ideas you projected onto Tark and Mara, living in a hollowed-out island and controlling the world using a bank of very big computer monitors that don’t need keyboards.

    If you ever tell us you have a cat I’m off to Utah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      I have a utopian tear in my eye, Chris. That’s so beautiful. You throw in a gold pinkie ring on each of my hands and it’s just about perfect. I can reassure you on the cat issue, though. I don’t have one. My iguana doesn’t like them.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. October 27, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    What a pair, Tara. I love their posh attitude and your descriptions, even though the local humor goes right over my head. Ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 27, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Haha! Bonsai! Tark and Mara would accept your respects, but they couldn’t be bothered, so they sent me instead. Sometimes I just feel so used.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. October 28, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Whenever I read about these two, I feel the need to lie down in a darkened room – and not necessarily for pleasure. Is it possible to be confused and amused at the same time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 28, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      That put a tear in my eye, Graeme. Not because I was overcome with emotion or anything, but because Mara was so pleased with your compliment that she accidentally punched me in the face. At least I think it was accidental…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. October 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    “…his head brushing the underside of the bonsai’s red-and-orange canopy” – brilliant 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. October 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    So funny and so topical, yet at the same time so disturbing. You can record your characters joking about dining in Paris instead of London, whereas we here are facing the prospect of being shunted out the EU and suffering consequences we didn’t vote for. Never mind dining, even holidays will take on a new guise, if we can afford them after paying increased prices. The future has lurched along a right fork in the road minus signposts, not shown on our map, causing a huge traffic jam as we try to execute an about turn to take us back onto our preferred route. In the chaos, the voices of Tark and Mara sound quite sane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 28, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      If Tark and Mara had a book jacket, Dorothy, the first line of that comment would be in 42-point font! I know you’re a keen traveller so I can’t imagine what Brexit feels for you in that regard let alone any of the others. I hope a new national satnav kicks in sooner rather than later.


  13. October 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I never thought I would want something that Mara has but ‘a forgotten artery sprang to life’ sounds like something I could do with, or even a celebrity baking crime bestseller… er, perhaps not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 29, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Well, where Mara is concerned, Hilary, everything has its price. I’m sure you can have her forgotten artery – after all, she’s not really using it. As for the celebrity baking crime, I’m afraid that’s over as of 10.13am this morning. Have you tried aristocratic tundra noir?


      • October 29, 2016 at 9:15 pm

        I have a very literal brain… it is struggling delightedly with aristocratic tundra noir as a genre. Though maybe I should follow through on being introduced at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting as having just returned from the Bratislava mud-wrestling championships (I could barely walk – for other reasons – so had to fulfil my role sitting down).

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 30, 2016 at 10:04 pm

          I didn’t know you were a Bratislavian mud-wrestling aficionado. I’m seeing you in a whole new light. You should definitely follow through. After all, who’s going to challenge you on it?!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Ali Isaac
    October 29, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Well, it’s good to see Tark and Mara back, but to be honest, I’d be a bit worried if I were you… I think they’re not far off reaching the point where they have no further use for you. You might wake up one morning and find they’ve made a take-over bid for your blog, and with their resources, I’m afraid you’ll never get it back. And everyone knows that a wannabe author needs a blogging platform. Not sure why. But that’s not important . Take measures, Tara. Be ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Oh, dear, Ali. I did wonder. There was a Damien Hirst diamond-encrusted horse’s head in my bed the other day and I just couldn’t fathom where it came from. A lot of recent events are beginning to take on a sinister new significance. It’s all gone a bit Mary Shelley…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        October 29, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        Excellent! Inspiration for a new novel?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. October 30, 2016 at 7:42 am

    That is a cunning ploy. They’re quite a pair, those two. Luckily, their plans won’t have much effect on me since I’m not in the target income bracket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 30, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      They also don’t like anyone who trades on wit, Bun, so I’d steer clear if I were you. It’s not hard. They don’t come down very often.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 31, 2016 at 2:32 am

        I’ll be keeping my distance from them, Tara. Next time they appear in your blog, I’ll be reading about their various schemes through binoculars.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 31, 2016 at 11:50 am

          Excellent. I’d tap the keyboard with a long pair of tweezers, too, just to be sure.

          Liked by 1 person

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