‘I laugh, even though I’ve no idea what a mirage is. I was on the senior cup team at school – I can’t emphasise that enough’

JP’s old man can’t take his eyes off me.

I’m like, “What?”

He’s there, “I just want to be sure you’re not a mirage.”

I laugh, even though I’ve no idea what a mirage is. I was on the senior cup team at school – I can’t emphasise that enough.


He goes, “I just had the bank on the phone. They’ve given Hook, Lyon and Sinker the job of selling the Markham house on Westminster Road.”

I’m like, “That’s tremendous news.”

“You bet it’s tremendous news. You know what swung it for us? The fact that you inveigled your way in there and measured up while the Markhams were still fighting the eviction in the High Court.”

“It was no big deal,” I try to go.

Modesty is a quality I find it very difficult to fake.

He's there, "I told them. I said, 'My guy went in there pretending to offer poor Abigail Markham his support in her most desperate hour, then he measures every room and expertly picks her brains as to the house's unique features.' They said we're exactly the kind of people they want to do business with. Matter of fact, they want us to sell all their distressed properties."

It’s hord to keep the smile off my face. I’ve found yet another thing I was put on this Earth to do. Kicking points. Loving women. Selling houses.

“I meant what I said,” he goes, porking his orse on the side of my desk. “About you taking over Hook, Lyon and Sinker one day. I’m not going to be around forever. I got arteries so furry, my grandkids could cuddle them. When I go, I want it to be your name over that door.”

I’m there, “I don’t know – I wouldn’t want to upset JP.”

For the record, I don’t care about JP.

I’m like, “He’s your son and blah, blah, blah. God, I played rugby with the dude – that’s got to mean something.”

He goes, “You know where JP is this morning?”

“Er, no.”

“He’s showing a couple around that house in Gorey. You know the one I’m talking about? Two years he’s been trying to get rid of it.”

"Gorey? I thought we made a decision that the world south of Loughlinstown Hospital doesn't matter a damn anymore."

I’ve kind of always believed that anyway.

"We did," he goes. "I even said it to him this morning. I said, 'Dublin is where it's picking up. Forget Wicklow and Wexford. Forget Meath and Kildare. Maybe their time will come again and maybe it won't. But right now, this is where we've got to be doing business. Know what he says to me? 'I better get on the road – the traffic's always bad on the N11.' I love my son, but God forgive me, he's no Ross O'Carroll-Kelly."

I expect a lot of parents probably feel that way.

“What about you?” he goes. “What are you doing this morning?”

I go, “I’ve been looking at the New Land League’s Twitter feed. The Markhams moved out the day before yesterday and the protesters have moved on to another gaff that’s about to be repossessed. You know Amalfi on Anglesea Road? It’s got to be worth, what, four mills? Thought I might head down there. Have a sniff around.”

“You’re completely devoid of human feeling,” he goes. “It’s people like you who made this country great for a little while – and who’ll make it great for a little while again.”

It’s an incredible thing for me to hear.

Twenty minutes after this little pep talk, I'm pulling up outside the gaff. There's, like, 20 or 30 incredibly well-dressed protestors outside, toasting Stilton-infused kielbasa over an open fire and singing This Land is Your Land.

I’m thinking, not when you owe your creditors €36 million snots it’s not.

My old dear cops me before I cop her.

"Oh, no, you don't," she goes, attempting to block me from actually going in. "You will not do to the Kendall-Rybars what you did to the Markhams!"

I’m there, “Believe me, I’ve walked over forwards who were bigger and uglier than you. Well, maybe not uglier.”

"I mean it, Ross. I'm telling you the same thing I shall tell that fearful Vincent Browne if he should show his face – thus far and no further!"

It’s at that exact point that some random dude in his – I’m guessing – late-50s, five-foot-nothing and bald, arrives over, going, “Is everything okay, Fionnuala?” and I can tell from the way he says her name and places his hand on the small of her back that this is my old dear’s latest, I suppose, flame.

I laugh. I’m like, “Okay, what’s this one called?”

“Dáibhéid,” he goes, sticking out his hand. “Dáibhéid Straide.”

I refuse the greeting. I leave him hanging.

“This is my son,” the old dear tries to go. “Although right now I’m rather ashamed to admit it.”

He’s like, “Aha!” the penny finally dropping. “This is the estate agent chap who finagled his way into Don and Abigail’s place. Bloody vulture – no offence, Fionnuala.”

Again, I laugh.

I’m like, “Let me tell you something about this sad sack of silicone and black morket organs who calls herself my mother – we have a hell of a lot more in common than she’d like to admit. You’ll learn that in time.”

Dáibhéid goes, “How dare you speak about Fionnuala like that!”

Yeah, he’s definitely the latest.

I reach into my pocket and I pull out a measuring tape. His eyes widen. He knows what it means.

“I will not permit you to trespass on this property,” he tries to go.

I’m there, “It’s not your property. It belongs to the bank.”

“That is the subject of a conversation currently taking place before the Supreme Court.”

“Get out of my way.”

“Do not attempt to enter this property. I think it’s only fair to warn you that I’m no scrum-half of a man.”

I give him a serious shoulder-nudge on my way past him. He's right. He's no scrum-half of a man. Peter Stringer would have turned me upside down and dropped me on my head. He actually has once or twice.

Into the gorden, then into the gaff I go, with Dáibhéid behind me, holding his injured shoulder, shouting, "You will regret this. You've just started a war with the New Land League. " ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE