‘It’s lovely to think there are still people out there who remember how good I could have been’


Garret, as in Garret who’s married to Claire from Brayjing, is drinking some muck that I’ve never even heard of – it’s called Spalt or Splonk or something like that – and he’s telling us that he’s really into his craft beers these days.

Christian and JP are just nodding – like the dude is not full of shit?

He’s giving it, “It’s something I’ve basically studied, to the point where all I need to do is smell a particular beer and I can straight away tell you the actual terroir of the hops. As long as it’s craft beer, of course. Seriously, goys, I don’t know how you can drink that piss.”

What he’s referring to – if you can believe this – is Heineken and I feel my fists suddenly tighten. It’s portly down to brand loyalty and portly down to the fact that I hate Garret more than anyone else on the planet and that includes Warren Gatland.

I genuinely don’t even know what we’re even doing here – as in, Claire and Garret have yet to announce the reason for this little soiree. All they told Sorcha was that they were having a porty because they had some major announcement to make.

I’m looking around the living-room and the line-up strikes me as straight away odd? It’s me, Christian and JP, Chloe, Sophie and Amie with an ie, three or four knobs from Gonzaga who Claire and Garret latched onto while they were supposedly travelling through south east Asia, an old school friend of Claire’s, who – hilariously – won the Lottery back in the day and a bought a house on Sean FitzPatrick’s road in Greystones, then some old dude from Hainault Road whose gaff Garret’s old dear use to clean. You take my general point. Aport from the lottery winner, it’s a skank-free zone.

Claire suddenly claps her hands together and goes, “Okay, everyone, you’re probably wondering why Garret and I invited you here tonight. Sorry to be so cloak and dagger about the whole thing. The intrigue can finally come to an end!”

Garret does the whole duhn-duhn-duhn thing. I want to literally kill him with my hands.

“As you know,” Claire goes, “for the past year-and-a-half, Garret and I have been trying to open an organic bakery and coffee shop called Wheat Bray Love on the Quinnsboro Road. We genuinely see it as something that’s really, really needed. Unfortunately, because of the situation with the economy, the banks are – oh my God – just not lending at the moment.”

Garret goes, “Don’t believe the corporate bullshit on the ads. As soon as they find out you’re from an SME, they do not want to know you.”

Claire’s there, “So that’s, like, kind of why we invited you here today? To offer you an amazing, amazing opportunity.”

“I don’t know how many of you have ever heard of Fund It,” Garret goes. “It’s basically an online crowdfunding initiative that empowers ordinary people to make good ideas happen. A lot of bands, artists and writers are using it to, I suppose, finance their creative endeavours.”

I laugh.

I’m like, “This is a focking shakedown!”

“No, Ross,” Garret tries to go, “it’s not a shakedown. What it is, basically, is a system that encourages grassroots support of ideas that are seen as, you know, being for the common good – at the same time totally cutting out the banks, who I think we all agree are bastards!”

Which might well be true, but not in their case. Telling Garret and Claire to go and hump themselves might be the only sensible thing anyone in an Irish bank has done in the last 30 years.

“So, like, how much are you looking for?” one of the Gonzaga dudes goes.

Claire’s there, “I mean, no one has to give anything? But if you are going to contribute, we’re asking for a €1,000 per person.”

There’s, like, one or two gasps at that. There’s supposedly a recession on, remember.

Again, one of the Gonzaga dudes goes, “And that gets us, what, equity in the business?” because they’ve all got their heads screwed on, fockers from that school.

“Er, no,” Claire goes. “What it gets you is a special bond with the business that offers the potential for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship in the future, as that business grows. For instance, anyone who contributes – and, like I said, there’s no pressure – will have their name put on a special mount on the wall. And they can avail of sometimes free but certainly discounted baked goods for the first two years.”

I walk out. I literally can’t listen to any more. I head out to the kitchen and I grab one of my famous Heinekens from the fridge. The old dude from Hainault Road suddenly joins me. I hand him a can and I go, “I’ve never said a word about Bray that wasn’t 100 per cent justified.”

He laughs, in fairness to him. He’s like, “Ross, isn’t it?”

I’m there, “The one, the only,” which is a thing I sometimes say.

“Murt Cowser,” he goes. “I remember you, you know. I’m one of the lucky ones who saw you play rugby.”

That just floors me. It’s lovely to think there are still people out there who remember how good I could have been.

“You had a rugby brain,” he goes, “that was five seconds ahead of everyone else’s. You know, I think me being invited here tonight might well have been fate.”

“Fate? What are you talking about?”

“Have you ever thought of coaching?”

I laugh. I’m like, “What team would want me? I’m a complete idiot these days. And a piss-head.”

He hands me his business cord. “Ring me,” he goes. “I’ve got a proposition to put to you that could change your life.”

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