'I think we'd all have to agree that independence hasn't really worked out for the Irish'
The old man squints the length of the fifth fairway. I don’t know why? He must have played this hole, like, two hundred times before.
“So,” he goes, “what’s our view on this promissory note business? Our chaps being made to look like useless clowns by their betters in Europe – yet again!”
“Germans,” Hennessy goes. And then he actually spits – although he has just bitten the butt end off a Davidoff Millennium Churchill. “And the French. There’s words I could use, Charlie.”
The old man laughs. This is in, like, Elm Pork. “Sorry – didn’t mean to get you riled, old scout. You’ve always had your doubts about the, quote-unquote, European project. Right from the off. I know that. I’m giving you credit for saying it back in nineteen-seventy-whatever-it-was. We’re better off out of it – those were your exact words. We were in the Shelbourne Bar.”
The old man hits the ball – sweetly, it has to be said – to within, like, 20 yords of where Hennessy’s ball landed. He turns around with a little look of, like, triumph on his face. “But at the same time, Hennessy, I think we’d all have to agree that independence hasn’t really worked out for the Irish. The best thing we could do now is go to our friends across the water and say, ‘Bygones be bygones and so forth. Is there any danger you might take us back?’ ”
Hennessy’s like, “Take us back?” and he’s not a happy rabbit. He looks like he wants to bend one of his Callaways around the old man’s head – as in, actual Nidge-style.
“It’s only been a hundred years,” the old man goes. “A little less. No, I’m sure they’d understand. It’s like young people today. They move out of home, full of optimism, of course, that they’re going to have fun and be in a position to pay the bills. Then they realise, uh-oh, I possibly wasn’t ready for this – wonder if mum and dad have converted my old room into a home study yet? Ross, how many times did you leave home, only to turn up again like a bad penny, with a cheery ‘What’s cooking? It smells disgusting but I’d eat anything at this stage’, then handing me your final notices to pay for you?”
I go, “Yeah, no, I’m trying to concentrate here,” because this is all being said while I’m teeing up my ball.
“Wait a minute,” Hennessy goes, “you’re not saying this is part of our manifesto – that we rejoin the United Kingdom?”
They’re setting up a new political porty, I don’t know if I mentioned. New Republic – a Seventh Force in Irish Politics, or Eighth if You Count the Greens, Which Nobody Really Does Anymore.
“Good Lord, no,” the old man goes. “People aren’t going to vote for that, especially on the eve of the anniversary of the famous Rising. No, it’s merely a privately held view.”
“Well, keep it to yourself,” Hennessy goes.
The old man’s like, “Message received and understood, old chap.” I hit the ball, except I end up totally focking shanking the thing and it ends up in a small wood off to the right of the actual fairway.
“Unlike you to slice it like that,” the old man goes. “It’s all this talk of politics, I expect. I know you have your views, Ross.”
I have literally no views. I often think if you cracked my head open, you’d find two giraffes in there playing badminton. We set off after our balls.
“You’re going to have to get used to hearing these kinds of debates between your godfather and I, Ross. Especially if New Republic comes to hold the balance of power after the next election. We both have our views and we’re both equally headstrong – I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’re the Haughey and O’Malley of our times.”
Hennessy is on it like vomit. “I’m Haughey,” he goes.
The old man chuckles to himself. “I think on balance, I’m probably more like our dear departed friend than you are, old chap.”
“Hey, I’ve cultivated the walk, the voice, everything.”
“I’m named Charles, for heaven’s sakes! Plus I’m bona fide corrupt. Spent two bloody years of my life languishing in Joshua Jebb’s folly, or don’t you remember?”
“Hey, I’m crooked and I never spent a day in jail. By my reckoning, that makes me more Haughey than you.”
I veer off right to try to find my ball and just leave them to it. As I’m doing so, my phone suddenly rings? It ends up being Sorcha. She’s like, “How’s the golf going?” The old man has asked her to stand for New Republic in the next election. He thinks she could take Lucinda Creighton’s seat. I’m like, “Not good. I’m playing actual pants here.” She goes – and this is hilarious – “How’s your dad getting on with the drafting of the porty constitution? Has he mentioned?” It’s hilarious, roysh, because I was actually there when they gave Hennessy’s secretary, Margaret, a stack of Fintan O’Toole, David McWilliams and Shane Ross books and told her to copy down any good ideas she came across and any lines that might sound good in a speech.
I go, “It’s still being – like you said – drafted.”
“Because I wanted to ask your dad if we were going to have, like, an environmental policy? Ross, what’s all that shouting?” I just laugh. I’m there, “The leader and the deputy leader of your party are arguing about which of them is going to be Charles Haughey. Welcome to my old man’s world, Sorcha.”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE