“I’m like ‘No way. Christmas Day is a day for family. It’s precious and blah, blah, blah’ ”
We’re in the weights room of David Lloyd Riverview – we’re talking me and my squad of 22 – putting in a pretty intense session, with me shouting some of Father Fehily’s famous motivational quotes at them, like, “Hord work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hord!” and, “Always remember – it’s the legs that feed the wolf!”
You can see them throwing the extra weights on the bor or increasing their speed on the rowing machine every time I hit them with a new gem.
I’d be genuinely stunned if this whole thing doesn’t finish with me being added to the Leinster coaching ticket.
When the session is over, we head to Kielys of Donnybrook for a team meeting. I insist they run all the way there – the long way around as well, along Clonskeagh Road, then right down Eglinton Road, with me driving alongside them in the Lambo, shouting shit out the window at them, like, “Pain is temporary – shame is for always!”
On which subject, Sorcha suddenly rings. She hasn’t spoken to me in the five days since she found out that the phone call she thought she received from Nelson Mandela in 2001 was actually me and Oisinn’s idea of an April Fools Day joke.
I answer going, “Hey, Babes!” except there’s no greeting from her end.
She just goes, “My Mom and Dad have invited us for one o’clock on Christmas Day.”
I’m there, “Is that dinner thing still on?”
“Why wouldn’t it still be on?”
“I just thought, you know, that Mandela slash Mandinka business went down like a wet dog at a white wedding. The last thing they’re going to want to see on Christmas Day is my big, ugly face!”
I say ugly in, like, a jokey way?
“They want to see their daughter,” she goes, “and their granddaughter. You – as dad said – are just an unfortunate appurtenance they have to tolerate for the day.”
Then she hangs up.
I think to myself, no, I can’t go to Sorcha’s old pair’s gaff if this is what Christmas Day is going to be like. Sorcha and her old dear giving me hostility and her old man insulting me in a thousand ways I’m too stupid understand.
No, I suddenly realise, I have to get out of it, which means I’m going to need a pretty good excuse not to be there.
The goys arrive in Kielys and I tell them they can have whatever they want from the bor. This is, like, a running joke. No matter what they ask for – a Jagerbomb, a pint of Ken, a vodka Mortini with a twist – the staff in K Town give them a Diet Coke. That’s on, like, my instructions?
“Okay,” I go, “gather around, everyone. I know you’re all keen to find out who we’re going to be playing in the first round of the Vinnie Murray Cup. Well, the draw was made about an hour or two ago and we’ve ended up with – okay, there’s no way of sugar-coating this for you, so I’m going to just it say it out . . . St Patrick’s Classical School Navan. ”