So there I am, stretched out on the sofa, a Hydrogen in one hand, five more in the fridge, and Ireland versus South Africa about to stort on the box. Being the good citizen that she is, Sorcha is working in the voting centre in Foxrock for this, like, referendum thing? Which means there’s nothing to disturb my enjoyment of the first of the autumn internationals.
All of a sudden, I look up and there’s Honor standing in the doorway and I end up nearly levitating off the actual sofa. My daughter frightens me like no child has since the first time I saw The Exorcist.
“Is this an important match?” she goes, a line she learned from her mother.
I’m there, “Er, yeah, Ireland are about to play South Africa, Honor. You remember Jamie Heaslip, the goy who called me Legend that day when we passed each other on the escalators in House of Fraser? Well, now he’s, like, captaining Ireland, so it’s a massive, massive day for him as well as me.” I’m babbling. I realise that. It’s, like, probably mostly fear?
She goes, “I want you to help me make my Santa list.”
I’m there, “Your Santa list?” and I swear to God, roysh, for about five seconds, I seriously consider telling her the truth about who really puts the presents under the tree – that’s a sign of how much I love my rugby.
In the end, I bottle it and I end up just going, “I don’t actually own a pen or a piece of paper, Honor – sure what’d be the point?”
Except she’s on it like a bonnet. “You do,” she goes, lifting up one of the sofa cushions and pulling out the A4 pad that I use as a kind of tactics book while I’m watching rugby on TV. It’s basically all the shit that I’d do in certain match situations if I was the Leinster or Ireland coach. Honor calls it my Sad Book.
“Let’s write it in your Sad Book,” she goes, at the same time switching off the TV. And suddenly there’s nothing I can do except hope that this is over with quickly.
Fat chance. I’m there, “I’m just thinking back to last year. Do you remember you said that what you wanted more than anything for Christmas was to see your mom and dad back together?”
“Er, hello?” she goes. “I was, like, six?” “Well, let’s just say your big present arrived a year late! What’s that thing you always hear people say? Santa works in mysterious ways?”
She stares me down, then goes, “Okay, just so you know, I’m humouring you and mom with the whole Santa Claus thing? Mainly because you both seem to get a kick out of it. Okay, start writing this stuff down as I call it out. And make sure you take down the brands as well.”
“A Joanne Hynes embellished collar. An iPad mini. A pink Barbour jacket. A coatigan by Cyrillus. A cream gilet by Supertrash. An I Love Gorgeous pink tulle dress, the one that Alyson Hannigan’s daughter, Satyana, is wearing in a magazine I have upstairs. A bottle of Love Chloe perfume. A Mint Jun dress by Roksanda Ilincic – she’s this, like, amazing designer from Belgrade.”
I’m there, “Where’s Belgrade?” basically trying to stop her momentum – break up the play.
“Okay,” she goes, “what’s the point of me telling you what country Belgrade is in, when you won’t have heard of it?”
“It’s the capital of Serbia.”
“Okay, point proven.”
“Can we get on with the list and stop wasting time? A Michael Kors watch – something chunky to make my wrists look thinner. A Mulberry bag. Or a Miu Miu. Or both. But definitely a Mulberry. And preferably both. The Alyssa Mary Jane shoes by Ralph Lauren that Suri Cruise wore on her first day at school. The Matilda dress in amethyst by Little Ella Moss that Jennifer Garner’s daughter Violet wore recently. A Michael Roberts Anna Wintour T-shirt. A Magic Cube portable projection keyboard, for when I start my blog.”
I throw in the famous line that most parents do when the old Christmas wish list storts hurtling towards the five-figure ballpork. “I’m not sure if they’d have the expertise to make all of this shit in Santa’s workshop, Honor.”
The look she ends up giving me would pretty much curdle milk. “My Mulberry bag will be made by Mulberry. My Ralph Lauren shoes will be made by Ralph Lauren. I don’t want cheap knock-offs. Now keep writing.”
Which I do – for the next, like, hour and a half?
“Victoria Beckham sunglasses. I like the Metal Charles in Mink, the Round in Honey and the Granny Cat in Fresh White. Two of those three. Or preferably all three. A miniature dog, though I haven’t decided what breed yet. The Joce dress by Stella McCartney Kids and the pink coat by Monnalisa that Ben Affleck’s daughter, Seraphina, was wearing in the last issue of Heat . Why are you writing Seraphina down?”
“I don’t know. I thought it might be relevant.”
“It’s not relevant. I’m just telling you where I saw it. Can you, like, focus? A Louis Vuitton Minaudière Petit Trésor. I’m going to spell that for you because I can see you’re already struggling with it. Min ...”
When she’s finally finished, I switch the TV back on, just in time to see the Ireland players walking off, looking battered and deflated. And for once, I can honestly say that I know how they feel.