If I thought there was half a chance, I'd be all over her like a dog on a dropped waffle
Miriam O’Callaghan introduces us as “Fionnuala O’Carroll-Kelly – novelist, screenwriter, style icon, philanthropist and, I think it’s fair to say, humanitarian” and – this is the bit that really grinds my gears – “her son, Ross”.
As in, she doesn’t say anything about me? She doesn’t mention that Tony Ward once said, “Provided he lives his life right, he will make the Irish number 10 jersey his own for a decade to come”.
That all gets swept under the corpet.
I agreed to do Miriam Meets because none of the old dear’s supposed friends – we’re talking Delma, Susan and all the other leading lights from the campaign to Ban Poor People from the National Gallery – was available. I saw it as a chance to (a) get a good look at Miriam, who I’ve always had a major thing for, and (b) to put certain facts about my old dear on the public record.
“Ross,” Miriam goes, looking all lovely like she’s hurting no one, “what are your earliest memories of your mother?” I’m there, “I would sum it up, Miriam, by saying the smells of Chanel No 5, desperation and gin. But mostly gin.” Miriam seems a bit taken aback by that.
“What about her glamour,” she tries to go. “Her beauty. Her fabulous dress sense . . . ”
I’m there, “One thing I will say in her favour is that later on, when I was playing my rugby, I never once came up against a forward – however big, however ugly – who frightened me. That was because, as a baby, I had her face bearing down at me in my pram, like something Tim Burton would draw in a bad mood.”
Again, Miriam seems surprised. You can tell she’s thinking, ‘Er, why didn’t my researchers tell me that this is a guy who isn’t afraid to call it on a consistent basis?’ She turns to the old dear and goes, “Fionnuala O’Carroll-Kelly, author of the wonderful and already bestselling Fifty Greys in Shades, Ross is your only son – your only child. What are your memories of him as a boy.”
I’m expecting her to say something nasty – which would be definitely her style. It’s a well-known fact that she never actually wanted kids? She put on, like, seven stone or something equally horrific when she was pregnant with me.
Except this time she ends up catching me totally on the hop. “Ross,” she goes, “was a lovely little boy. Terribly sweet and affectionate. Very, very clever. And handsome. He was awfully handsome. He still is. The girls were mad about him the time he was in Montessori!” Er, this doesn’t sound like her.
She goes, “But I would say a great many of my memories of Ross as a youngster involve rugby. He brushed over it rather modestly a moment ago but he was an outstanding player and it’s a great shame that – through a variety of reasons – he never got to play for his country.”