‘I may know nothing about politics, but I’d be all over this Lucinda like a seagull on a dropped 99’
‘P ip-pip and tally-ho!” the old man goes, because saying “hello” would be too simple, of course. “That all went off without a hitch, didn’t it?”
He’s talking about our Vinnie Murray Cup semi-final against CUS last Saturday morning. They made us work hord for 40 minutes, in fairness to the fockers, before we destroyed them in the second half with what would have to be described as some seriously impressive champagne rugby.
“And so Gonzaga await their fate!” he goes – this is at the top of his voice, bear in mind. “Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae. And I know I’m saying that to a fellow student of Virgil!”
He’s wearing his lucky Cole Haan camel-hair coat and hat, and I have this sudden flashback to when I was the star of the Castlerock College team and he used to praise me from the sidelines in high-decibel Latin. I have this sudden attack of nostalgia, which reveals itself in an overwhelming urge to ask him for €500 to go on the piss. But I stop myself. I’m not 18 anymore. I am, I suppose, an adult now?
He’s there, “I wondered did you fancy accompanying your old dad to the RDS?”
I’m like, “What’s on at the RDS?”
“Lucinda – your friend and mine – is having her monster what’s-this-it’s called. A new dawn for Irish politics. Quote-unbloody-quote. I thought I might go along to see what all the fuss is about.”
“Are you going to be heckling people?”
“I may contribute to the debate, Ross, yes.”
“I love seeing you making a tit of yourself. Where are we porked?”
And off we go.
The RDS ends up being rammers. I don’t know very much about current affairs – I’m not the fastest crayon in the box – but what there does seem to be is a lot of incredibly well-dressed people talking about how “something like this is not only needed – it’s necessary!” and how “the porking situation in Ballsbridge is as bad now as it was at the height of the Celtic Tiger!”
I’m there, “So what actually is happening today?”
This is as we’re, like, queuing up to get into the main hall.
“Talk, talk and more bloody well talk,” the old man goes. “It’s the inaugural meeting of the Reform Alliance. Or the Irish Reform Alliance as I like to call them – drives Peter Mathews mad – because of the rather unfortunate acronym, don’t you know!”
I’ve no idea what an acronym is and I’ve no desire to know.
“And what are they?” I go. “Are they, like, a political porty?”
He’s there, “Of sorts, yes. They’re really an interim political organisation that may transition into something of importance. I suppose you could call them the Provisional IRA!”
That goes over my head like schoolwork. He laughs, though – so loudly that it echoes around the entrance hall. “Oh, dear, oh, dear,” he goes, “when you and I get onto the subject of politics, Ross, it’s generally the case that hilarity soon ensues!”
A dude at the door holding a clipboard asks us for our names. The old man goes, “I should think it’s perfectly obvious who I am. But I shall adhere to the exigencies of polite conversation by telling you that my name is Charles O’Carroll-Kelly, president of the New Republic party and this is my son, Ross, whose good lady wife, Sorcha O’Carroll-Kelly (née Lalor) will soon be replacing your Ms Creighton as the Teachta Dála, inverted commas, for Dublin South-East!”
The dude looks at him and goes, “Your name’s not on the list.”
The old man’s there, “I beg your pardon!”
“You’re not down here. On the list of delegates.”
“Well, bloody well put me down. I’m a member of a constitutional political party with a mandate from my supporters. I’m entitled to have my voice heard. Is this a public meeting or isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry, Sir, would you mind stepping to one side?”
Which the old man is suddenly forced to do.
As chance would have it, this Lucinda Whatever-She’s-Called just so happens to be standing immediately behind us? She flashes her badge at the dude – and a pretty nice smile, it has to be said – and in she walks.
The old man, of course, is not a happy rabbit. He storts calling after her, going, “Excuse me! Ms Creighton! Excuse me!”
She finally turns around. Lucinda, it turns out, is a bit of a looker. Bear in mind that I’m saying this as someone who knows nothing about politics, but I’d be all over her like a seagull on a dropped 99.
She’s like, “Yes?” cracking on not to even recognise my old man.
Ah, she’s got my vote. End of.
“I’m here for the monster rally,” he goes, “quote-unquote. I’ve got views and I would like to make a contribution here today.”
Lucinda just shrugs.
“That’s great,” she goes, “I look forward to hearing what you have to say inside,” and then off she heads.
“But I can’t get inside!” the old man shouts. “This bloody . . . functionary won’t allow me!”
Some dude walks past us – one of Hennessy’s Law Library friends – and goes, “Oh, there’s Charles O’Carroll-Kelly! Come to join us, have you, Charles?”
The old man’s like, “What, New Fine Gael? Never! Or wait a minute, is it New Fine Gael or New Old Fine Gael?”
“Better than Old New Fianna Fáil,” the dude shoots back.
This is obviously what passes for banter in that whole world.
“Actually,” the old man goes, “New Republic are probably more Old New Old Fianna Fáil than anything. Or Old New New Old Old Fianna Fáil.”
A bouncer dude suddenly appears from nowhere and puts his hand on my old man’s shoulder. “Sir,” he goes, “can I ask you to take this outside?”
I’m laughing my head off, as the old man is led out of the RDS, shouting threats over his shoulder. “You’ll regret this,” he’s going. “You’ll regret provoking the ire of Charles O’Carroll-Kelly.”
We walk back to the cor and he finally calms down. “Politics,” he goes. “God, I couldn’t live without it.”
And I’m just there, “I need €500 to go on the piss.”