I’d rather eat what’s coming out of the dishwasher outflow pipe. But I’ll have some anyway, just to spare your feelings’
Sorcha tells the old dear that the monkfish is – oh my God – amazing. She’s such a crawler. The old man agrees with her. I pull a face like I’m not so easily impressed.
I’m like, “Any fish that has to be wrapped in bacon to make it taste of something probably should have been left in the sea in the first place.”
“Well,” the old dear goes, “why are you eating it then?”
“Maybe I don’t want to hurt your feelings, you raddled old soak.”
Sorcha shoots me a serious filthy across the table. This evening is turning out to be as much fun as a lapdancer with a cough.
I go, “Sorry, can I just ask – without wanting to appear rude – what the fock are we even doing here?”
Here, by the way, is the old dear’s gaff on, like, Shrewsbury Road?
“It’s our wedding anniversary,” the old man tries to go, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “Thirty-five years, Fionnuala! Who would have believed it?”
I laugh. I have to. No choice in the matter. I’m like, “Who would have believed what? You’ve been divorced for the last four of those. So what’s there to even celebrate? In fact, you’re married to someone else,” meaning Helen – in other words, like, Erika’s old dear? – who’s an amazing woman and in a different league to my old dear, in terms of looks, in terms of personality, in terms of blah, blah, blah.
The old dear goes, “Why does it bother you, Ross, that your father and I have remained friends since our divorce?”
I’m there, “I just think it’s weird, that’s all. Or maybe weird is the wrong word – it’s more, I don’t know, sick? ”
Sorcha ends up suddenly flipping. She goes, “I have friends, Ross, whose parents – oh my God – hate each other. As in, like, genuinely hate each other’s guts. So your mum and dad’s marriage didn’t last forever. They’re still two people who care about each other very much. And they have this, like, shared history together, which includes you, Ross. I’m sorry, but if you don’t think that’s worth celebrating, than maybe it’s you who is sick.”
Of course, the old dear is delighted to see me get smacked down. She puts her wine glass to her lips to hide her smile. She changes the subject then. “Charles,” she goes, “how’s that political party of yours coming along?”
He’s there, “What, New Republic? Oh, wonderfully well, Fionnuala. At this moment in time, we’re ready to field candidates in 20 constituencies, including young Sorcha here, who I’m rather counting on to take Lucinda’s seat when the time comes.”
Sorcha’s like, “I’m going to do my best, Charles,” all pretend modesty.
The old man goes, “The plan is to run someone in every constituency. We’re lining up others. One or two chaps from the Law Library. A few current senators if that place goes wallop, which – strictly entre nous – I think would be a good thing, although you’ll never hear me say that publicly.
“Like the vast majority of people, I actually agree with Enda on this one. It’s just that, well, it’s Enda, isn’t it? You wouldn’t trust the chap to change the batteries in a torch, so why would you trust him to change the way we’ve been governed for the best part of a century?”
The old dear just smiles. “Charles,” she goes, “the way you’re talking right now, it’s like the old you is suddenly back.”
I was thinking the exact same thing. It has to be said that the fight kind of went out of my old man after his hort attack. He chillaxed a lot more. He had to – it was, like, doctor’s orders? But recently, I don’t know, it’s like he’s become more his old self again. A knob, in other words.
“I happen to think that the people of Ireland are ready for a new kind of politics,” he goes. “One that represents their interests and not those of some mythical European super state.”
It’s like I’m suddenly 15 again and they never broke up. These are the kinds of conversations we used to always have around the dinner table. It makes me feel – I’m going to admit it – a bit sad.
“For dessert,” the old dear goes, “I’ve got sticky Valrhona chocolate and pear pudding.”
It sounds incredible.
I go, “I’d rather eat what’s coming out of the dishwasher outflow pipe. But I’ll have some anyway, just to spare your feelings,” and off she trots to get it, looking like 200lbs of ugly stuffed into a 150lb sack.
While we eat it, she updates the old man on her campaign to prevent the link-up of the two Luases. She tells him about the one-day boycott of the green line that she’s organising and the documentary that TV3 are making about her and her fellow campaigners called Luas Women.
And then I can’t listen to any more. The second I’m finished my dessert – possibly the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten – I stand up and tell Sorcha that we should possibly hit the road.
In the cor, she asks me if I’m okay. She goes, “You seemed to get upset, Ross, towards the end.”
I’m there, “I don’t understand why they can’t just despise each other like normal human beings.”
I realize then that, in my rush to get out of there, I left my mobile on the table. I tell Sorcha I’ll be back in a second. I let myself into the gaff, then I tip back down to the kitchen, to be greeted by a sight that almost causes me to blurt sticky pudding all over the hordwood floor.
My old pair are wearing the face off each other like two basic teenagers.