The old dear sees me standing on her front doorstep and she's on the straight away defensive. She's like, "What do you want?"
Seriously, you wouldn’t want to be sensitive.
“Yeah, no,” I go, “I thought I’d just swing by to see did you fancy grabbing a bit of lunch? Hey, you look great.”
She doesn't, by the way. She looks like someone shaved Adam Jones and rouged his cheeks.
“Lunch?” she goes.
I’m like, “Yeah, I was thinking we might hit possibly Dalkey?”
She’s there, “But I don’t understand why you would wish to have lunch with me.”
She doesn’t trust me as far as I could throw her.
I’m like, “Look, I know we’ve never been close. And we’ve certainly had our differences recently. But like it or not, I’m still your son – your only child, as a matter of fact. It’s going to be my job to carry out your final wishes one day and to scatter your ashes around the grounds of whichever distillery makes Bombay Sapphire.”
She suddenly accepts that I’m being genuine.
“Well,” she goes, “I’m always saying that you and I should make more of an effort with each other. Just let me get my purse.”
So five minutes later, we're in my cor and we're heading for the coast. And naturally enough we get talking about what happened three weeks ago, when she and her New Land League mates disrupted the Hook, Lyon and Sinker distressed property auction in the Shelbourne Hotel and forced it to be abandoned.
I'm there, "Four of the properties that were going under the hammer were gaffs that I brought to JP's old man. He was talking about making me a portner in the business – as in an actual equity portner? He's barely looked at me since."
She goes, “We took the action we did, Ross, because good people – I call them People Like Us – are being forced out of their homes by the very banks they helped save from ruin. Must I remind you that some of these people are my friends? Francine and Algernon Montague. The Kirwins. Sandrine Davies-Hill. They’re all facing eviction right now. And if you’re bringing me out to lunch to try to get me to apologise for taking a stand against the egregious incompetents who operate our banking system, then you might as well take me back home this instant.”
“Calm down,” I go. “Before I agreed to let bygones be bygones, I just wanted to mention that you cost me about a hundred Ks in commission, that’s all.”
I pull up on the Vico Road, at the top of a steep ramp that leads down to the edge of a cliff and then a forty-foot drop onto the railway tracks below.
“What the hell are you doing?” she goes, the panic rising in her voice. I swear to God, she thinks I’m going to take the handbrake off and dive out.
“A forty-foot fall wouldn’t kill you,” I end up having to remind her. “You’re about 90 per cent rubber from the waist up. Come on, I want to show you something before we go for lunch.”
What I’m showing her is Equus, a gaff on the Vico Road that she’s always described as her dream home. I use the little beeper to open the electronic gates.
She’s like, “Ross, what are we doing here? This is Sandrine Davies-Hill’s house. And her husband, Dominic.”
I’m there, “Not anymore, it’s not. They moved out two days ago.”
“Nonsense,” she goes. “They’re appealing their eviction. Dáibhéid is covering their legal fees himself.”
She's talking about Dáibhéid Straide, one of the Land League's leading men – and, as it happens, her new leading man as well. You'd have to say, she does alright for an unfanciable trogdor.
I'm there, "The Davies-Hills folded their hand and they've gone to live in England. "
The old dear’s like, “I hadn’t heard.”
“You’ve always loved this gaff,” I go. “Just take in that view. I remember, when I was a kid, the old man used to take us on Sunday drives along the Vico Road and when we passed this place – do you remember? – you used to say, ‘I’ll be in that house one day.’”
She’s there, “Yes, but that was before I became friends with Sandrine and Dominic.”
She follows me inside all the same.
"Five bedrooms," I go, "all with en suite bathrooms. Seven thousand square feet, extensively refurbished to an exacting standard. High ceilings, open fireplaces and sash windows with working shutters are all features of this desirable residence, as is this stunning entertainment space, which offers the full panoramic view of the bay."
She suddenly laughs.
She’s there, “I know what you’re trying to do, Ross. You think you can show me around this house and get me to betray Dáibhéid and the others? Divide and conquer – is that your plan?”
“It’s going for three point two million,” I go.
That stops her dead in her tracks.
She’s there, “Three point…”
I’m like, “Three point two mills. And the bank are looking for a quick sale, done quietly. You’d have that kind of do-re in the bank, wouldn’t you?”
She considers this for a good 20 seconds, then goes, “Well, it wouldn’t be a betrayal of anyone just to have a look around, would it? Does the house still have a wine cellar?”
“Yeah,” I go, “and it’s fully stocked. The bank repossessed everything, including every stick of furniture they owned.”
“Dominic had a wonderful longcase clock,” she goes. “It was terribly old. Seventeenth or 18th century – it was one of those.”
I’m there, “It’s in the drawing room – will we go and look at it?”
Again, she doesn’t know whether she can totally trust me. In the end, she goes, “Like I said, it’s not hurting anyone if I just look, is it?”
And then I end up giving her the full tour of the place – it’s just me, the celebrity spokesperson for the New Land League and the video and audio recording equipment that I have secretly hidden about my person. ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE