‘I’m not cutting my old dear’s – I don’t know – girdle off. I’d be sick’
THE OLD DEAR opens the front door to me with a big fake smile on her face. Before she gets the chance to tell me how wonderful it is to see me, I stare at her top lip and go, “Fock! Is it Movember already?” and then I follow that up with, “The old Ronnie’s coming on a treat, isn’t it? I’ll definitely have to sponsor you this year,” just in case the insult went over her head – which can sometimes happen.
She just, like, rolls her eyes and shakes her head and goes, “I was going to tell you how wonderful it was to see you. Come in if you must. Although I have to warn you, Ross, I don’t want you spoiling what’s been a very happy day for me with your unpleasantness.”
“Don’t worry,” I go. “I’m just here to tell you that the old cor insurance is due.” Her mouth drops open. She’d put you in mind of the creature at the end of Prometheus. “I can’t believe I’m still paying your car insurance,” she tries to go, “at, what, 32 years of age,” and then she trots down to the kitchen to grab her chequebook.
I might have mentioned to you before that she bought Oisinn’s old gaff on Shrewsbury Road. I have a quick poke around the place while she’s gone. You’d hordly know it was the same place. The old pool room, for instance, is now her study – and that’s where I find the manuscript for her new so-called book on her desk.
She’s suddenly standing behind me. “In case you were wondering, Ross, that sheaf of paper in your hands is the reason it’s been such a happy day for me.” I’m there, “Er, I wasn’t wondering?” “Yes,” she goes, totally ignoring the point I’ve just made, “I’ve finally finished my new erotic novel.” I check out the title and I actually laugh? “Fifty Greys in Shades? Is this for real?” “Yes,” she goes, on the big-time defensive, “it’s for real. And if you must know, there is currently a bidding war raging for the worldwide publication rights.”
“Fifty Greys in Shades? I mean, what the fock’s it even about?” “It’s about an active retirement group from Foxrock and Cornelscourt who go on a two-week trip to the Algarve.”
“What, and they all stort humping each other?”
“Yes, Ross, a number of them do discover a reawakening of their sexuality while they’re there.” I flick the so-called manuscript open at, like, a random page and I read the following sentence: “Myra softly relieved Colin of his zimmer, smiled lasciviously and whispered, ‘I haven’t taken my painkillers tonight. I thought it might add a certain frisson to proceedings.’” I feel my guts do a quick somersault. The old dear takes the manuscript from me. “I’m afraid I can’t let you read it yet,” she has the actual cheek to go? I’m there, “I wouldn’t read something you wrote if I was in solitary focking confinement. And that’s where you belong, by the way. You’re sick in the head.”
She hands me the old Jeff Beck, then she fake-smiles me. “Like I said,” she goes, “you’re not going to put me in bad form, Ross. I’ve finished my new book and I’m very happy with my new figure.” She has lost a bit of weight, I notice. You’d never compliment her on it, though.
“I’ve lost two stone since August,” she goes.
I’m there, “I’d say Butler’s Chocolates are laying focking staff off.” It’s amazing the way the lines keep coming to me. One thing I’d have to say in the old dear’s defence is that she’s always brought out the best in me.
“And if you wouldn’t mind excusing me,” she goes, trying to bring the conversation to a sudden end, “I’m having lunch with my agent. But thank you for calling in, Ross.” I go, “Yeah, whatever,” and then I turn around to leave.
It’s, like, as I’m opening the front door to go that I hear this basically crash in the hall behind me and I turn around to discover – with a genuine fright – that the old dear is on the deck.
I’m like, “What the . . .” immediately worried, because she’s still my mother, remember, no matter how much evil she does in the world. “Have you been at the voddy?” I go, leaning over her.
She’s, like, conscious, but her breath is – I’m pretty sure it’s a word – laboured? “Don’t be silly,” she goes, “I just fainted, that’s all.” I whip out my mobile. “I’m calling the doctor.”
“Don’t, Ross! I think I just overexerted myself this morning, looking for an adjective.” I’m like, “Hey! I’m ringing the doctor,” which is exactly what I end up doing. He lives in, like, Killiney, so he tells me he’ll be here in, like, 20 minutes to half an hour.
I hang up. And that’s when the old dear says it. “This is very embarrassing,” she goes, a big sheepish look on her face.
I’m there, “What?” She goes, “Look, the reason I fainted is because . . . Ross, I’m wearing Spanx.” I actually laugh. “I knew it! Two stone since August? It had to be special effects. The focking nerve of you! So how come you fainted?”
She shakes her head. She hates having to tell me but she has no actual choice? She’s there, “I put on two pairs.” I end up nearly keeling over myself with the laughter. I’m like, “You’re saying you actually double-bagged your orse!”
“They’re all doing it,” she goes. “All the celebrities,” like that was ever an excuse for anything. “But, Ross, I can’t let the doctor see me like this. It’s embarrassing.” I’m like, “So what do you want me to do?” She goes, “Go and get a scissors and cut them off.”
I swear to God, it’s like the world has suddenly slowed down and I’m having, like, an out of body experience? I’m there, “Er, no.”
“It’d be too weird.”
“Ross, please.” I’m like, “I’m not cutting my old dear’s – I don’t know – girdle off. I couldn’t physically bring myself to do it. I’d be sick all over you. I’m sorry. No, no, you’ll just have to face the music.”
Quick as a fox, she goes, “If you don’t do it, Ross, I’m going to cancel that cheque and you can pay your own bloody car insurance. And every year from henceforth.” She knows she has me over barrel.
I’m there, “Okay, I’ll need a drink first, though.” She’s like, “There’s a bottle of brandy upstairs on my bedside locker.” Surprise, surprise.
I tip upstairs and pour myself a treble. I knock it back, thinking about what a seriously messed-up day it’s been – and it’s still only, like, half 11 in the morning – and how much I wish I’d stayed in bed. And thinking about how a treble probably isn’t going to be enough for this job.