Grout fails to fill in the missing pieces for Vinny
Angie and her husband have done their best to play fair in redrawing their will
Vinny Fitzpatrick reckoned he was last inside the musty offices of Crabtree, Shuttleworth and Grout, a solicitors firm of long-standing and high fees in Marino Mart, for the reading of his late ma’s will.
He associated its dark interior with loss and couldn’t wait to skip down the creaky wooden stairs and grab a lungful of air in Fairview Park.
For a while that would have to wait, however, as he and Angie had business to attend to. It was a matter of each updating their last will and testament should either, God forbid, tumble off the mortal coil.
Changing wills didn’t come cheap and it wouldn’t be quick either, because Gordie Grout was a pompous gas bag with a first-class degree in waffle. But it couldn’t be put off any longer.
As Angie pointed out, four Christmases had passed since the twins arrived; three since Niamh appeared out of the City blue; while Little Vinny, who first saw the light of day in Foley’s toilet, was now nearly two. “We’ve been putting this off for long enough. Let’s set a morning aside with Gordie Grout and when it’s sorted, you can buy me lunch,” said Angie the week before.
As providence would have it, Gordie was able to squeeze them in, at short notice on Monday at eleven. He promised to have a copy of their old wills to hand and would make the necessary changes once “all the boxes were ticked” as he put it over the phone – it would not be his last act of mumbo jumbo speak.
Vinny and Gordie were of a similar age but of contrasting character and only knew one another because Gordie’s aul fellah, Laidlaw Grout, had played for the Gaels – under an assumed name, of course – and had also been a staunch drinking buddy of the late Finbarr Fitzpatrick.
With his suspiciously thick black hair slicked down to one side, pointy nose and oily manner, Gordie reminded Vinny of the creepy assistant draper in the Circle of Friends who had the hots for Minnie Driver.
“Ah, Vincent and the divine Angie; how propitious that we should meet again! Am I to assume you’ve each engaged in some serious blue-sky thinking?” gushed Gordie as ushered them into his pokey office a few doors up from Joey’s.
“Now, I gather you wish to shift the paradigm in relation to your wills.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t buy-in to that. Let me see what you are suggesting?” he said, poring over the proposed changes.
Vinny and Angie had done their best to play fair and square in the redrawing of their wills.
In the unlikely event they both should pass away at the same time, their entire assets would be divided equally between Emma, Niamh and the twins, Aoife and Oisín.
If Vinny should slip away first which, Vinny felt, was a more likely result, then the old Fitzpatrick family home in Causeway Avenue was to be left between Emma and Niamh – 50-50.
“They can sell it, live in it, rent it, whatever,” said Vinny.
Vinny’s share in Eggo Bleu, the future Gold Cup winner, was to pass on to Angie, while his golf clubs would be donated to the Soiled and Ancient Golf Society with a bequest, and a request, that his Tommy Armour brassie, be mounted and placed in a glass case in a corner of Foley’s.
“For posteriority,” he smiled. “I won the President’s Prize once with that club.”
And then, out of nothing, Vinny turned the morning on its head when he revealed he had a stash stowed away in a building society account in Coolock that was so secret, not even Angie had known of its existence. Against the odds, he had salted away a ton a month for nearly 25 years and now had close to thirty grand in the kitty.
“I’d like that split three ways, between the twins and Little Vinny, when they turn 21. Not a day before,” he said solemnly.
“By the way, the chances of me being around in person to hand the dough over are about as slim as Irish Water ever paying for itself,” he added with a playful nudge at Angie who stared lovingly at him. “You sly old devil,” she smiled.
Gordie Grout was silent for a while, before placing the papers on the desk, pushing his chair back, and tapping his stubby fingers against his capacious belly. “I’ll empower my SWAT team to put this one to bed, ASAP,” he said, tapping the side of his nose.
“All the ducks appear lined up in a row and I don’t see any need to suggest leverage for either party. I think if we push the envelope out we can sign off within 10 days. That’s best business practice. Don’t worry about the outlay, it’s scalable,” he added.
With that, Vinny raised a pudgy paw. “Hold your horses, Gordie,” he barked. “And stop yapping through your backside.”
There was a silence. The hum of traffic on the Malahide Road appeared to grow louder. “You and me, we grew up in Clontarf; we spoke the same language as nippers so there’s no need for all this pretentious guff.”
After a bit, Gordie spoke. “I’m sorry you feel that way, Vincent, and I apologise if my language upsets you. I do have a tendency to converse in ‘legal-speak’, so to say, but that is symbolic of the world I live in,” he said, slightly exasperated.
As Gordie put a sock in it, Vinny was reminded of a captain at Carrickbrack GC who wanted to have a starter’s hut built near the first tee as a symbol of his captaincy. As a personal touch, his name would be engraved above the door.
The folly was going to cost a small fortune for the members but the captain was insistent until one irate member, who used to play for Dollymount Gaels, stood up and told the assembly what he thought of the notion.
Finbarr Fitzpatrick was right to speak his mind that day and now his son felt compelled to quote from his da’s book of wisdom. “You know what Gordie, you’re dead right. It is all a load of symbolics.”
With that, Vinny seized a fistful of documents from Gordie Grout’s desk and led Angie from the office quicker than a Nite Link bus heading back for the depot.