“Bringing organic food to Bray? If they’d said ‘deep-fried’, we’d have focking jumped on it and we’d all be as rich as Denis O’Brien tonight”


I arrive home from Paris on Sunday night with a hangover that hates me, but – and this is me definitely calling it – happier than I was the day my children were born. I’m in the door literally five seconds when Sorcha says something that brings me crashing back to earth.

“Get changed,” she goes. “Claire and Garret are coming over for supper!”

She’s talking about Claire and Garret from, like, Brayruit of all places.

I’m like, “Why? Why do we have to have them here?”

She goes, “Claire rang me yesterday and said she had something big to tell me. I’m wondering is she pregnant? She’s put on a bit of weight recently and her skin is awful and that’s not me being a bitch. Ross, go and get changed out of that smelly Ireland jersey. They’ll be here soon.”

I trudge up the stairs, grab a quick Jack Bauer and, by the time I’ve thrown clean threads on, I can hear their voices downstairs in the hall. Sorcha is telling Claire that she looks – oh my God – so well. The female mind is like an internet browser with 26 pages open at the same time.

I tip downstairs.

Me and Claire do the whole mwoi-mwoi thing, while he just stands there, grinning and shaking his head in just, like, general disapproval of me. The real issue, of course, is that I wiggled Claire’s toes more than a few times back in the day and he isn’t grown-up enough to accept the fact.

“Ross was in Paris!” Sorcha goes. “Oh my God, I was so happy for the players!”

And Garret – this is, like, literally word for word – goes, “Meh. Sports people aren’t heroes to me.”

“If I wasn’t in such a good mood,” I go, “I’d put you out that door on your focking head.”

He hates rugby. Always has. Claire ends up having to step in between us, going, “Oh my God, Sorcha, we haven’t even sat down and these two are already at it!”

I give him a long stare, then Sorcha goes, “Anyway, come in and sit down. I found this recipe for an amazing workhouse stew with a gourmet twist. I hope you both like Dijon. Garret, you’ve brought your own beer.”

He’s like, “Yeah, no offence, but since I got into craft beers, I just refuse to drink anything else. You don’t get the same toasted cereal depth,” and he hands me a little cordboard carrier with six bottles of a thing called, I don’t know, Hacker-Pschorr in it and he tells me to put it in the fridge for him, like I’m the hired help.

Sorcha dishes up the stew and we sit around the dining room table eating it while Sorcha steals sly little looks at Claire for clues as to whether she’s up the spout or not.

Garret goes, “Did anyone see what Morgan Kelly was saying the other day about the threat to the Irish economy posed by our treatment of small to medium enterprises?”

I go, “For fock’s sake!” because I know what this is about – Wheat Bray Love, the organic bakery and coffee shop they tried to set up until the banks told them to go and hump themselves. The most sensible decision that anyone working in an Irish financial institution has made in the last 30 years.

They tried crowdfunding as well, attempting to tap me and Sorcha and one or two others for the moo, but we told them the same thing. Bringing “organic” food to the people of Bray? If they’d said “deep-fried”, we’d have focking jumped on it and we’d all be as rich as Denis O’Brien tonight.

“Yeah, I’m just making the point,” he tries to go, “that the economist who predicted the property crash agrees with my assessment that this country has no future.”

I end up suddenly losing it with him. I stand up and I stort jabbing my finger at him, going, “Don’t you dare tell me that a country that can produce a man like Brian O’Driscoll has no future! Don’t you dare tell me that a country that can produce a man like Peter O’Mahony, a man like Johnny Sexton, someone like Paul O’Connell, is focked! Don’t even attempt it! Because you’ve picked the wrong man! And, by God, you’ve picked the wrong weekend!”

“Ross!” Sorcha goes. She’s never seen me being patriotic before. She’s from the Vico Road – she’s never seen anyone being patriotic. I think it genuinely scares her. “Go and get Garret another drink.”

I stare him out of it for a good 10 seconds – how dare he try to suck the joy out of my weekend – then I go out to the kitchen. I grab one of his ridiculous beers from the fridge, open the bottle and pour its entire contents down the sink. I’ll give you toasted cereal depth, I think. I grab one of my famous Heinekens and I fill his bottle up with it, then I bring it into the dining room to him.

I notice straight away that Sorcha has a look of, like, shock on her face?

She goes, “Ross! Claire and Garret have just told me their news!”

I’m there, “And is she?” and I use my two hands to indicate a big, fat belly.

“We’re emigrating,” Claire goes. “To Canada!”

I’m like, “Oh, yes!” the words just automatically slipping out of my mouth. “Yes! You little focking beauty! Yeeesss!” and at the same time I’m, like, punching the air.

“We’ve just decided,” Claire goes, “that we don’t want to live in a country that discourages entrepreneurship.”

Garret takes a sip from his beer. He doesn’t even notice the difference – or if he does, he refuses to give me the pleasure of acknowledging it.

“When are you leaving?” Sorcha goes.

Claire’s like, “Tomorrow morning. Saint Patrick’s Day, appropriately enough. We kept it a secret until the very last minute because we didn’t want people trying to persuade us to stay.”

“They won’t,” I go. “And I certainly won’t. Do you need a lift to the airport?”

“No, my parents are going to bring us.”

“Well, I’ll be there anyway, just to make sure you get on that plane.”

All in all, I’d have to say that this is the greatest weekend of my life.

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