‘I am so excited thinking about all of the people’s lives we can change with this money!’

The one day we never mork in this house is April Fool’s Day. And there’s a very good reason for that

I was like, “Remember you bought that camel for a family in Burundi? That shower were writing to you every second week asking you to throw in a goat and a few chickens.”

I was like, “Remember you bought that camel for a family in Burundi? That shower were writing to you every second week asking you to throw in a goat and a few chickens.”

 

We celebrate most big days in this house? We’re talking Christmas. We’re talking Easter. We’re talking Sorcha’s birthday when I remember it. I even watched 20 minutes of the Easter Rising commemoration on TV, even though I was brought up to believe that we haven’t had one good day as a country since we got our independence from Britain.

The one day we never mork – the one day I’m forbidden from even mentioning? – is April Fool’s Day. And there’s a very good reason for that.

It happened, like, five years ago, but Sorcha still hasn’t reached a point where she can look back at it and laugh, and I seriously doubt if she ever will.

It was, like, a Sunday morning and I tipped downstairs with a serious head on me. Late Morch and early April is my least favourite time of year – the social no-man’s land between the Six Nations ending and the Heineken Cup quarter-finals beginning, when you’re forced to drink for reasons that have nothing to do with rugby.

Sorcha was making raspberry waffles in the griddle pan I bought her for Valentine’s Day. I happened to mention, all casual-like, that I forgot to check last night’s lottery numbers and I pulled a slip of paper out of the pocket of my chinos.

She looked at me, genuinely confused. She went, “Er, we don’t do the lottery? You always said that gambling was like begging and that hope was for poor people.”

“That’s actually my old dear’s quote,” I went. “But I was passing the Spor in Donnybrook last night – gee-eyed, the usual – and I thought to myself, hey, I think I’ll give it go at it – see what all the fuss is about.”

She looked at the docket. “I’ve seen people fill these in,” she went. “With those little pens. It always makes me think of Argos.”

Like Sorcha had ever been to Argos.

I went, “Do you want to maybe check them? We could be sitting here four million snots richer and not even know about it!”

She was like, “Four million?” opening up her laptop. “Oh my God, Ross, can you imagine?”

I went to the jacks then, because I didn’t trust myself not to laugh in her actual face. I was sitting on the bowl when – maybe 30 seconds later – the screaming storted. It was that kind of piercing screaming you hear from teenage girls outside McDonald’s on Grafton Street when they’re meeting up with friends they haven’t seen for 24 hours.

Now, with every practical joke, there comes a moment when it’s time to say, ‘Hey, I had you there!’ but in this case I felt that moment had already passed

It was like, “Aaarrrggghhh! Aaarrrggghhh! Aaarrrggghhh!”

I came running out of the jacks going, “What’s wrong, Sorcha? What’s wrong?”

She already had, like, tears streaming down her face. She went, “We won, Ross! We won the lottery!”

I was like, “No!” again trying to keep a straight face. “That’s a bit random, isn’t it?”

She was like, “You check it. I’ve checked it, like, three times already?”

I looked at the numbers on the top line on the ticket and checked them against the winning numbers on the website. It was like, 1, 4, 7, 18, 20 and 26.

“Yeah, no,” I went, “it looks like we’ve won alright! Yeeesss!” and I punched the air.

She sat down at the freestanding island, her two hands clamped over her mouth, crying like a baby, going, “I don’t believe it, Ross! I don’t believe it!”

Now, with every practical joke, there comes a moment when it’s time to say, ‘Hey, I had you there!’ but in this case I felt that moment had already passed. The joke had gone away from me.

She grabbed the laptop again and went, “Do you know what the first thing I’m going to do is? I’m going to increase all my directs to the various charities I support!”

That was her first instinct. That’s how much goodness there is in the woman I married.

I was like, “Er, maybe have a think about that, Sorcha. Remember you bought that camel for a family in Burundi? That shower were writing to you every second week asking you to throw in a goat and a few chickens.”

She just went, “I am so excited thinking about all of the people’s lives we can change with this money!”

Then her jaw suddenly dropped and she went, “Oh my God, my Mom and Dad!”

I was like, “What about them?”

“We can stop them losing their home!”

Sorcha’s old pair had sunk their life savings, not to mention quite a bit of money they borrowed, into shares in a bank – you can probably guess which one – that was quite popular back in the day. They’d lost the lot and they were about to be turfed out onto the road – the Vico one.

I was like, “Socha, I probably should tell you . . .”

But by that time she was already heading for the front door, with the ticket in her hand, squealing with excitement.

I was like, “Sorcha!” but it was no good.

Five seconds later, I heard her cor stort and I realised I was going to have to go after her. Then I remembered that Honor – who was pretty much still a baby – was asleep upstairs. I had to wake her up and put her into her cor seat before setting off in pursuit of my wife.

But she was too far ahead of me on the road to catch her. By the time I reached Honalee, her and her old pair were in the gorden, crying, hugging and – Jesus, no! – dancing an Irish jig.

This was in Killiney, bear in mind.

The neighbours had been alerted to something happening and were arriving in their droves with congratulations and all the rest of it. One of them was going, “I prayed for you! I prayed and prayed and the Good Lord answered!”

It was Sorcha’s old man who was the first to cop it. A lawyer, you see – they always check the small print. He went, “Sorcha, have you seen the date on this ticket?”

I was like, “Yeah, no, that’s what I was going to tell you, Babes. I went into the Spor and I used this weekend’s winning numbers – to do next weekend’s lottery.”

All of the colour ran out of her face. In that moment, she looked like she could literally kill me.

And I didn’t exactly help matters by going, “April Fool!”

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