Time has an elastic property and can fly or crawl, gallop or drag. In the Lewis Carroll classic, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', she asks: "How long is forever?" And the White Rabbit answers: "Sometimes, just one second."
Forever is composed of one now after another which can be fleeting - or feel like eternity. A sense of time grinding on and on ad infinitum has been in evidence during the short and troubled life of that banana skin-prone entity known as the current Government.
Is it really only a month since the tricycle Coalition was formed? It urgently needs to borrow a set of stabilisers. Already, it feels as if welding it together has been a mistake - the constituent parts are rasping, resisting and pulling in different directions.
Some relationships were never meant to be. And the Coalition looks increasingly like a match that lacks stickability. Since it took office, minutes have moved like hours and days like weeks. If this is representative of what's ahead, the 33rd Dáil hasn't a hope of reaching its 2025 target date. To say it got off to a poor start is to reach for understatement. And it's still at the honeymoon stage.
We're about to enter another period of austerity - some people are experiencing it already - and it is essential to have leaders who are alert to the job. Worryingly, this Government is racking up climbdowns, U-turns, flip-flops and errors of judgment. Internal communications are woeful, leading to missteps and muddles.
'We're all in this together' is the headline message. But that's exposed as an empty formula when pay rises for politicians coincide with stopping the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for people going on holidays.
It brands them as spongers when they can't work, through no fault of their own, because of lockdown restrictions.
This Government has promise. It managed to push ahead with a stack of stalled legislation, put together a credible plan to reopen the schools and was correct to pause phase four of the roadmap to reopening Ireland.
But too many relatively minor fissures are being allowed to turn into gaping cracks. Take the Greens, who haven't sorted out the notion of internal party discipline. Neasa Hourigan voted against the Residential Tenancies Bill - which aims to support renters who lose income because of the pandemic - and promptly resigned as chief whip, while junior minister Joe O'Brien abstained.
The whip system could certainly use reform, but if senior Green politicians can't support the Government at this early stage the Coalition's future looks short-lived.
A two-month suspension of speaking rights during a six-week Dáil recess is a symbolic sanction and won't act as a deterrent. No need for a crystal ball to sense trouble ahead. Green Party culture needs to be recalibrated if it is to remain in government. But is the will to do it strong enough?
Meanwhile, the State's finances are under pressure with a €30bn deficit for 2020. Yet Eamon Ryan is convinced he should have eight advisers. To put that in context, there are 16 for the whole of the Stormont administration. As for Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin, they want half a dozen advisers apiece. Could someone explain just what is the point of the civil service?
Elsewhere, we have junior ministers bickering over shared advisers. And there is the additional €200,000 a year cost of a Garda car and driver for Simon Coveney. A case can be made that the Foreign Minister needs a car and driver for trips to the North on business. But why not give him the car and driver for those occasions alone?
Three super juniors at the Cabinet table are hard to stomach. Isn't it constitutionally irregular? Bunreacht na hÉireann stipulates not fewer than seven or more than 15 ministers in the Cabinet. But now we find ourselves with 18 because of super junior inclusion.
They don't vote but the Cabinet rarely votes. To all intents and purposes, they are members. To suggest anything different is to reach for Humpty Dumpty language. As he tells Alice, a word means "just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less".
So, too many super juniors, advisers, top-ups and perks, and too few servants of the people. But we're all in this together.
All the stupidity, tetchiness and ineptitude in evidence over the past month has been avoidable. Together they add up to a sense that time has been dragging for members of the current Dáil, with TDs desperate for the summer recess finishing line. That's understandable. These have been wearisome months for everyone, whether politician or citizen. But exceptional times require exceptional levels of focus, dedication and energy.
Where did it start to go wrong? Right after the February election when it became clear Mr Martin had no intention of even talking to Sinn Féin, let alone assessing whether there was any common ground, although the public vote gave both parties the same number of seats.
And now we're seeing the consequences of that decision play out in Leinster House. Mr Martin is leading an unstable coalition. It has felt like eternity watching it stumble along at a time when the twin challenges of Brexit and the pandemic should be concentrating minds.
TDs appear to be bothered by a ghost in the machinery of coalition, or blinded by the light, or overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the challenges they face. And if members of the Government think they are living through tricky days, just wait until the Budget in October - when spending will have to come into closer alignment with income. Major decisions will need to be reached quickly. Tough compromises. This is the simple stuff they're arguing about currently.
The Greens aren't the only ones with problems to grapple with over the recess. Fianna Fáil has identity issues. Recently, retired district court judge Seán MacBride, a long-time party member, told the 'Derry People' and 'Donegal News' his decision to resign from Fianna Fáil was due to being "completely disillusioned".
He said: "The party has lost its republicanism and forgotten its social democratic working class roots." He also criticised "totally negative campaigning in the 2020 General Election particularly by the leadership of the party" which "drove Fianna Fáil and other voters into the Sinn Féin camp for the first time ever". Too much can't be read into one resignation. But it's obvious the party is not united.
Let's hope the summer break can help the Government parties to regain focus - and that includes an avoidance of gaffes and communication deficits, which dilute their attention from the job in hand.
As the Mad Hatter tells Alice in Tim Burton's film version of the 'Alice in Wonderland' story: "You were much more muchier. You've lost your muchness. Something's missing."
Indeed it is. And Messrs Martin, Varadkar and Ryan need to set about finding it.