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.”