‘Suddenly, Honor appears in the doorway, like one of the twins from ‘The Shining’, except even scarier’


The Lambo has been acting up recently. When it goes above a certain speed – specifically, 150 Ks an hour – the engine makes this, I don’t know, repetitive wailing noise, which I thought at first was part of a David Guetta track, except it was still there half an hour later when I was listening to Nicki Minaj.

Chad offers to take a look. The thing about Lamborghinis, I tell him, is that they’ve got, like, bits that you can’t actually get at – they’re, like, encased in plastic? – which is why you usually have to take them to a specialist who knows what the fock he’s doing.

But before I’ve finished saying what I’m saying, the dude has gone up to the guest room and come back downstairs with a pouch full of what look very much to me – someone who’s never done proper men’s work in his life, remember – like screwdrivers.

He opens her up and gets to work straight away, popping this and loosening that, then asking me at various points to stort her up and rev the engine in a big-time way. After, like, 15 or 20 minutes of this, he suddenly declares the problem fixed. “Take her out on the freeway,” he goes. “The noise will be gone.”

I ask him what the problem was, mainly for the sake of seeming grateful. He says my something-something was over-somethinged, which meant my something was putting pressure on my something-focking-else. Cors are like women to me – I’m happy to use them, but I have no desire to know what goes on under the hood.

I offer to make a pot of coffee while Chad goes and cleans himself up. I’m in the kitchen, listening to the shower running upstairs, trying to choose the exact moment to plunge, so I can then be pouring it the second he comes back down.

Suddenly, Honor appears in the doorway, like one of the twins from The Shining, except even scarier. “I found the fantasy best man speech you wrote for Johnny Sexton,” she goes – and she says it in, like, a really nasty way?

I’m there, “I told you not to touch my rugby tactics book.”

Then she storts, like, reading out lines from it, while imitating my voice, going, “I can’t tell you how much pleasure it’s given me watching Johnny do everything right in his career. But he might not have done everything right if he hadn’t watched me do everything wrong first. What I’m saying is that I’m a major part of his success and I think he’d admit that himself.”

I make a grab for the book, except she pulls it away. She goes, “Oh my God, you are so sad.”

I’m like, “Okay, how am I sad exactly?”

And she has literally no answer to that, except to go, “Because you’re supposed to be an adult! An actual grown man! Hashtag. Pathetic! Hashtag. Hill! Air!”

The book is suddenly snatched out of her hand by Chad. I didn’t even hear him coming down the stairs. He gives her a look and she backs away, although not without first staring me down and going, “This isn’t over.”

When she’s gone, Chad asks me if I’m okay.

“A bit shaky,” I go, “but I’ll be fine.”

Anyway, that night we’re in the usual Kielys of Donnybrook Town and, while Chad’s getting the round in, I’m telling the goys – we’re talking JP, Christian and Oisínn – about the events of the morning. “He’s just incredible,” I go. “It’s become a proper full-on bromance – and that’s not me trying to make you goys jealous. And my golf game – have I told you about my golf game?”

“Yes,” Christian goes.

Christian probably is a bit jealous.

I’m there, “My golf game is the best it’s ever been.”

And that’s when Fionn arrives. He’s home for a month’s holidays from Uganda, where he’s been teaching, and, like the others, he has no memory of ever meeting Chad when we were in Ocean City.

“Okay,” he goes, “I’ve been through almost 1,400 photographs and he doesn’t appear in any of them. Not one. The other thing I’ve noticed is that he seems to know all of our J1 stories, but there’s no real depth to his recollection. It’s like he’s been, I don’t know, coached or something.”

I’m like, “Come on, Fionn! Coached?”

Oisínn goes, “I thought the same thing, Ross I mean, are you not curious as to why this complete stranger has shown up on your doorstep faking an attachment to you?”

I’m like, “Dude, that’s what The focking Gathering is about!” defending the goy to the bitter end. One of the things I love about myself is how loyal I can sometimes be.

“He’s an impostor,” JP goes.

“What,” I go, “and I’m supposed to just throw him out on the street? The dude who taught me how to apply the principles of kicking to my putting technique and brought it on in literally leaps and bounds?”

Chad is suddenly back with a tray of pints. “Hey,” he goes, “I was just thinking if this was Milwaukee Best instead of Heineken, we could be all back in
Maryland in the summer of ’01 again!”

I’m like, “Good one, Chad!” because he’s funny as well as his other

“Maryland?” Fionn suddenly goes.

Chad just nods.

“That’s weird,” Fionn goes, “because we did our J1 in Ocean City, New Jersey, not Ocean City, Maryland.”

I’m like, “So focking what?” and then I turn to Chad and go, “I’m sorry about Columbo here.”

It’s JP then who goes, “Chad, no one here remembers you. Who the fock are

I’m there, “You don’t have to answer that.”

Chad looks at me and smiles, except in, like, a sad way? “You’ve been so good to me,” he goes. “It’s about time I told you the truth.”

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