‘Because middle-class, conservative Catholics have never had their voice heard, have they?


I hear the old man before I see him – which is usually the way. “There he is!” he goes, top of his voice. “The Lions coach of 2017! Or, failing that, 2021!” I roll my eyes. The dude is deluded – although it’d be nice to think that my name would at least be in the shuffle. I’m in the old Shred Focking Everything van and his face suddenly appears in the front passenger window. “Tell me again,” he goes, opening the door and climbing in beside me. “The score – what was it?”

I’m like, “It was 54-9,” and I say it like it’s no real biggie.

He’s there, “Fifty-four points to nine, thank you very much! St Patrick’s Classical School Navan! Dispatched! Goodbye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

I go, “Well, we’re getting carried away with ourselves. We’ve got St Gerard’s in the next round. They might be from Bray, but they’re nobody’s fools.”

The old man pulls out a Cohiba the size of Rocky’s punch bag. He’s there, “Do you know what your problem is, Ross? You’re too bloody modest. You always were.”

I’m like, “Me? Modest? Sorry, have we ever met before?”

“Too modest, Kicker! I said it to Hennessy! Too modest by bloody-well half! But you have something that cannot be taught, because it comes to you as naturally as breathing in and out. And that thing is tactical ingenuity!”

I end up just shrugging. I’m a sucker for a compliment, even if I don’t understand it.

I’m there, “I’d be pretty stunned if Joe Schmidt isn’t following what’s happening and thinking, ‘This dude could bring a huge amount to the set-up in terms of knowledge, people skills and blah, blah, blah.’ Where the fock are we going anyway?”

The old man is acting weird, I don’t know if I mentioned that. He rang me at, like, 10 o’clock this morning and said he’d had a booking, but then he wouldn’t tell me who it was from or even, like, where?

“Left at the top of the road,” he goes. “Then we’ll be taking a right.”

This is all I’m getting out of him – directions. He goes, “Tactical ingenuity, of course, is in the family DNA. I expect you’ve been following the news vis a vis the so-called Reform Alliance?”

I’m there, “Dude, I’ve never watched the news – not even once – in my entire focking life.”

“Well, Lucinda and her – let’s just call them – cohorts are talking about how they’re going to fill a void in Irish politics. Because middle-class, conservative Catholics have never had their voice heard, have they?”

“I’ve no idea what you’re even talking about.”

“Poor Lucinda has missed the bloody bus, Ross, and she knows it! New Republic is already doing what she’s going to be discussing at this – inverted commas – monster bloody-well rally of hers.”

“New Republic? Is that your porty?”

“It’s not my party, Kicker. No, it belongs to its members. But, yes, I happen to be its president at this juncture, when – I’m happy to say – disaffected middle-class voters are flocking to us in their, literally, thousands.

“The same disaffected middle-class voters that Lucinda and her crowd are now chasing – in vain!”

His cigor has gone out. He whips out his lighter and gets it going again with three or four big sucks on it. The van smells like a Tijuana whorehouse.

He’s there, “They all think we’re a joke, of course. I ran into your friend and mine – Mr Michael McDowell SC – in Doheny’s over Christmas.

“He said, ‘New Republic! I have to hand it to you, Charles, great name. I hear you’ve patented it, too. But I trust you’re going to do the decent thing and give it to Lucinda’s crowd when the time comes.’

“You know what Michael and I are like when we cross intellectual swords. For raillery and badinage, well, you’ve never heard the like of it!”

I’m like, “Where am I going?” because I’m suddenly pulling up at a T junction.

He goes, “Oh, left here, Ross. Left and then the next right. It’s a little laneway. Drive slowly, because it’s easy to miss. I said to our friend, ‘I will not be giving that woman anything, thank you very much. They can call themselves New Fine Gael. Or Old Fine Gael. Frankly, I don’t care what they call themselves. As a matter of fact, I’m going to attend this so-called monster rally of theirs – hijack it, if you will – and I’m going to make the point that New Republic is going to change the Irish political paradigm. At the next general election, we intend to win 40 – count them, Michael – 40 seats!’

“Well, I had quite a bit of drink taken, but my point was made.”

I take a right, down the laneway. It’s quiet. There’s, like, literally no one around. He’s still blathering on. “New Republic – not the bloody well Reform Alliance – will hold the balance of power after the next election,” he goes, “because we are what the electorate wants. A break from the old way of doing things.”

I pull up. I’m like, “Okay, what now?”

He’s there, “Now, we wait.”

“Wait for what?”

“Some documents of a very sensitive nature that need to be destroyed. It’s probably best that you know nothing about it, Ross. That way, you can play dumb if it ever comes out.”

I’m there, “Playing dumb is kind of my thing. Hang on, what is this building? Isn’t this . . .”

But I don’t even get time to finish my question. A file as thick as the 01 directory suddenly hits the bonnet of the van with, like, a dull thud.

I’m like, “Whoa!”

It’s pretty unusual, in my experience, that documents for shredding would be focked out of the third-floor window.

The old man gets out. I follow him. He picks up the file, flicks through it, chuckles to himself and goes, “Well, I can see why they don’t want this getting into the public domain.”

I end up just shaking my head. I’m like, “A break from the old way of doing things. Yeah, roysh.”

He looks at me – no embarrassment whatsoever – and goes, “Fire up the shredder, Kicker.”

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