'Women are a bit like cuckoo clocks - fascinating, fun, but no one really knows how they actually work'
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE
I t’s about time the Government declared Brian O’Driscoll’s birthday a national holiday,” I go. “They should call it Thanksgiving Day and everyone should be given a day off work, just to think and, I don’t know, be actually grateful.” I’m still buzzing off what happened in Cordiff and I’m still possibly a bit mulled.
Sorcha goes, “Hmmm,” not really listening to me. She’s driving around and around the cor pork of Ikea in Ballymun looking for somewhere to stick the Hyundai Santa Fe. There are plenty of spaces, by the way, but she insists on finding one that’s close to the entrance of the actual store. Five nights a week, you’ll find my wife walking up and down Newtownpork Avenue, swinging her orms wildly, trying to work off the old Xmas cargo. But when it comes to shopping, she’ll spend an hour driving around to spare herself a 10-second walk.
Women are a bit like cuckoo clocks. They’re fascinating. They’re a lot of fun. But no one really understands how they actually work.
“Why are you always talking about rugby?” Honor goes.
She’s sitting in the back with a face on her like she’s sucking battery acid. A trip to Ikea isn’t her idea of a fun Sunday afternoon. It’s not mine either. But Sorcha got a call to say that the hinges have finally arrived for the Leksvik buffet cabinet we bought in 2009.
I’m there, “Rugby is a massive, massive part of my life, Honor. I take it very seriously. So should everyone – that’s just my view.”
“I don’t know why,” she goes – six years of age, remember. “You were rubbish at it.”
I stay calm. “There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t agree with that assessment. George Hook reckoned I had the potential to be as good as Mike Gibson. Ryle Nugent said I was a definite future Ireland captain.”
She goes, “But you weren’t. So you were a failure.”
Sorcha comes rushing to my defence. She saw me when I was at my peak, remember – even though she knows fock-all about the game. She’s like, “Stop picking on your father, Honor.”
“Er, I’m not picking on him?” she goes. “I’m just asking him why he didn’t make it if he was as good as he says he was.”
I’m there, “Injuries. Bad luck. I said a few things to Warren Gatland one night in the Berkeley Court with a few drinks on me, which possibly didn’t help my cause. Then I did the same with Eddie O’Sullivan – except that was in Jury’s in Cork.”
She goes, “So what you’re saying is you’re a loser.”
“Honor,” Sorcha goes, finally pulling into a space, “leave your father alone.”
“Oh my God, he needs you to fight his battles for him now, does he?”
We get out of the cor and we walk to the shop. Along the way, Honor kicks the back of my heels and I trip and sort of, like, stagger forward. “Oh, soz,” she goes, pretending it’s an accident. “Hashtag – such a klutz!”
I don’t say anything. Wouldn’t give her the pleasure.
“I can’t believe I’m even here,” she goes. “Sundays are supposed to be for Dundrum.”
Sorcha’s like, “You go to Dundrum every Sunday, Honor. Look, you don’t have to come into actual shop with us. We can leave you in Smaland,” which is what they call, like, the creche?
“You mean Sadland,” which is what Honor calls it.
Sorcha goes, “Well, the choice is yours, Honor. You can go to the creche or you can walk around the store with us.”
She’s like, “The creche then,” and then she goes, “You know I’m going to be mixing with northside children and the sons and daughters of the bog. Yeah, rul good parenting, Mom.”
We sign her in. One of the creche workers – who I think looks like Rozanna Purcell – points out the ball pit and the climbing ropes and the games and the paints. Except Honor gives her, like, a withering look, takes out her iPhone and goes, “I have plenty to keep me busy, thank you muchly.”
As Sorcha and I turn away, some poor little girl makes the mistake of trying to become friends with her and Honor goes, “Please don’t speak to me. I don’t want to pick up an accent.”
We go off looking for the hinges. We traipse up and down the aisles silently. After a while, Sorcha goes, “She’s getting worse, Ross. Her behaviour.”
I nod. I’m like, “A consolation for us should be that we don’t have any hord questions to ask ourselves in terms of how we raised her.” And that’s when I hear it, the quiver in my voice, and I realise that I’m actually crying here.
Sorcha takes me by the shoulders and stares into my eyes. “Ross,” she goes, “are you okay?”
I’m like, “She just knows what buttons to press with me.”
“Don’t let her get to you.”
“Saying I’m a loser.”
“You’re not a loser. That thing that George Hook said. That will always stand, Ross.” I nod. “I’m sorry. I’m still a bit emotional after the Welsh match. And the whole Jonny Sexton moving to France thing is possibly only sinking in with me now.”
“You’re still a bit drunk as well.”
“That’s also a possibility.”
“Come on, let’s finally get these hinges and get out of here.”
Which is exactly what we end up doing. When we’ve grabbed them and paid for them, we wander back to the famous Sadland, where six or seven small children are – like me – in tears, and so are one or two of the staff.
“About time,” Honor goes, when she sees us. “Er, lame much?” And one of the creche workers – the one who’s a ringer for Rozanna Purcell – whispers to me, “Please don’t bring her here again.”