‘I had literally no idea how far away Northern Ireland was or in what direction’
Hay lawng?” he goes.
I’m like, “Sorry?” because I’ve always had trouble understanding the Northern Irish accent slash population.
“Haw lawng do yee thank the speeches are gunnee go awn for? Ay’d bat lawng if ay were yee. Over an oar. See the groom? Ay’ve known hum since we were in school thegather. And one thang that boy cawn doy is talk!” I just nod my head and smile knowingly, like I used to in school whenever a teacher asked me a question.
Then when I’m absolutely sure he’s finished talking, I turn around to Sorcha and go, “What are we even doing here?” Here is this, like, golf and country club somewhere outside Belfast. We’re at the wedding of a girl called Amawnda, who was in UCD with Sorcha. Since you’re asking, no, I never had that particular pleasure, even though I went through the rest of Sorcha’s nordie mates like the winter vomiting bug through a hospital.
“Amawnda is one of my – oh my God – oldest friends,” Sorcha goes. “Ross, I asked you to be my plus-one as a personal favour to me. Can you not at least try to enjoy the weekend?” and then she goes back to talking to Suzawnne, who’s sitting on the other side of her. And since you’re asking, yes, I did have that particular pleasure.
“Dad yee drave op?” The dude on the other side of me is back talking to me again. I’m there, “You’re going to need to say that again.” “Drave op? In the cor?” The cor. Some words are the same up here as they are at home. I’m like, “Yeah, we drove.” “Some motorwee, isn’t it? What did it teek yoy – tee oars?” “It was, er, in the ballpork, yeah.”
He’s there, “And lat me ask yoy a quastion – at any point in the journay, did yoy feel lake yee’d antered a foreign counthray.” I’m like, “Dude, I felt like I entered a foreign country when I passed the Ballymount exit on the M50.” He cracks his hole laughing – obviously thinks I’m joking. Except I’m not? Sorcha will tell you that. I was staring out the window open-mouthed the entire way up here. And I have to admit I got a little bit freaked when the first tower honed into view.
“Careful what you say,” I went. “I remember my old man telling me once that the British Ormy have got, like, listening posts up in those things? They can possibly hear what we’re saying right now.” “Ross,” Sorcha went, “that’s the Dublin airport water tower.” See, I had literally no idea how far away Northern Ireland was or in what direction. There’d never been any need.
I go back to my baked Alaska and catch the tail end of Sorcha’s conversation. She and Suzawnne are filling each other in on their lives since UCD. Sorcha’s going, “I worked for, like, eight years in high-end retail (presumably Sorcha Circa) and then one year in, like, medium-end (Euro Hero? It was hordly that!) and right now I’m just looking for, like, a new challenge?” Suzawnne fake-smiles her. That’d be something she picked up in Belfield.
“Maysalf,” she goes, “ay’m a full-tame mawther.” Sorcha’s there, “Oh my God, you never went into, like, environmental law in the end?” “Noy,” she goes, “ay dadn’t,” and at the same time she whips out her iPhone and shows Sorcha a photograph of, I’m presuming, her brood.
“Oh! My God!” Sorcha goes, “How many do you have?” “Fave.” “Five?” “That’s the aldest thor. They’re the thraplets. And thot’s wee Seán – he’s tan months awld.” Sorcha looks over at Colm, Suzawnne’s husband. “You must be – oh my God – so proud!”
Colm just smiles. Doesn’t say a word. Again, it could be the language barrier, although I’m pretty sure I picked up hostile vibes from him from the second we sat down. I’d imagine Suzawnne filled him in on our whole backstory – the way girls do. Two dudes can never properly get on if one has dipped his oar in the other one’s waters. There can only ever be a healthy respect and distrust.
“Ay was a bit lake yoy,” Suzawnne goes, taking the phone back. “Ay wanted to be a hay-flayer – career, the whole lat. And when ay was pregnant with the first one – wee Janny – ay was all sat tee goy back tee work, so I was. But see when she was born? Ay just thought being a wafe and a mawther is the most important job ay’ll ever doy.”
I watch Sorcha sit there and, like, process this information for about 10 seconds, then – totally out of the blue – she puts her hand down on top of mine and goes, “We’re thinking of going again ourselves.” Which is news to me – when we checked into the hotel this morning, she made sure we were on different floors.
“We already have a daughter called Honor,” Sorcha goes. Then she whips out her own phone and storts flicking through her library of images, looking for even one photograph where our daughter isn’t looking totally and utterly bored, rolling her eyes, or going, ‘Oh my God, you’re so lame’ at the camera. In the end, she can’t find one, so she puts the phone down again and just goes, “She’s an amazing, amazing child. A gift really. But we’d love a little brother or sister for her.”
She’s seriously lost me now. The only people who discuss our relationship these days are the lawyers we’re paying to put it out of its basic misery. Suzawnne’s obviously heard, roysh, because she decides to call her on it.
“Ay’m sorray,” she goes, “ay don’t mean tee pray, but is it not troy that yoy tee broke op?”
Sorcha laughs. “Oh my God, who told you that?”
“Well, averyone was talking abite it. And then I noticed yoy weren’t wearing your rangs...”
“They’re being cleaned,” Sorcha goes, on it like a bonnet. Then she puts her hand on my thigh, smiles at me and goes, “I won’t deny it, we have had some problems. But we still love each other as much as we ever did.” I can suddenly feel an uprising brewing south of the border.
The speeches are about to stort. The dude to the left of me sets his watch. As the best man takes the microphone, I lean in to Sorcha and I’m like, “Will I cancel one of those rooms?” And out of the corner of her mouth, my soon to be ex wife goes, “Dream on, Ross.”
It’s true, I find the people of Northern Ireland nearly impossible to understand. But women? It doesn’t matter where they come from, I will never, ever learn their language.rossocarrollkelly.ie; twitter.com/rossock