Unless you've spent the last seven days of your life under the covers with the curtains drawn and the electricity switched off, you'll know all about my old dear's disgrace. The chairperson of the Foxrock and Cornelscourt North branch of the New Land League being given a guided tour by her estate agent son of a gaff on the Vico Road, whose owners had just been evicted by the bank.
And asking all the right questions, of course. “How many of the bedrooms did you say were en suite?” and, “Could I knock down that wall if I wanted to enjoy a fuller panorama of the bay from upstairs?”
There were even shots of her, like, critiquing the previous owner’s taste in décor: “I feel terrible for them losing their home – but Jesus, Sandrine, spiral patterned curtains went out with the 1970s!”
I stuck the footage up on You Tube and within 24 hours it was everywhere. Every newspaper, TV and radio station had it and the old dear was forced to spend a week of her life, well, under the covers with the curtains drawn and very probably the electricity turned off as well.
She rang me once, just to go, “You’ve ruined me.”
And I was like, “Yeah, no, you ruined yourself, you greedy, gin-infused roach-beast.”
And I returned to Hook, Lyon and Sinker as the all-conquering hero. People stood up from their desks when I walked through the door. They took off their headsets and high-fived me and chanted my name. JP’s old man was going, “His own mother! This guy is numb from feeling!”
You know me. I’m a sucker for a compliment.
"She forced us to cancel that distressed property auction," I went. "She cost me nearly a hundred Ks in commission. I don't care how we're related?"
“This kid could teach you all a lesson in how to sell houses,” he went, “and how to conduct yourselves generally. If there were more Ross O’Carroll-Kellys in this world, there would be no dictionary definition for the word recession.”
And then about 15 minutes later, when he was passing behind me, he squeezed my shoulder and went, “You’re back on the partnership track, kid.”
But I didn’t have time to sit there congratulating myself. I had work to do and it ended up being the busiest week of my life. The phones were ringing like it was 2003 all over again and there were one or two days when I put in literally an eight-hour shift. I must have been high on adrenaline or something.
I had three couples – the Kennedys, the Susters and the Bracewell-Blacks – interested in a house on North Avenue on Mount Merrion and I was playing them off against each other like in the good old days. I was going, "The Kennedys have just been on. They love the house so much, they've upped their offer by 10 Ks. I'm not going to lie to you, Mr Suster, as soon as the Bracewell-Blacks find out, they're going to match that offer and raise it by five. I'm only telling you this because I like you and I really like your wife – you're going to need another 20 Ks to stay at the table. Hey, talk to the bank. You might be surprised. It's not 2011 anymore. Okay, you chat to Irla and come back to me, but don't be slow."
Ten minutes later, I was giving pretty much the same spiel to the Bracewell-Blacks.
Most of these conversations took place while I was in the cor, driving around like the proverbial blue-orsed fly. I spent the entire week travelling between the office and Portmornock, and the office and Ashford, and the office and Templeogue, showing people around various houses. I was filling the cor with petrol basically every day.
There was even a sudden spike in interest in a little two-bedroom cottage in Shankill that’s pretty much derelict and sits on a natural flood plain. Six people viewed it on Wednesday and Thursday alone. By the way, keep that to yourself about the natural flood plain.
I had such a cracking week that I decided to see it off with a few pints of the obvious in Kielys of Donnybrook Town on Friday night. I was two pints into this plan when I suddenly became aware of – let’s just call it – a presence at my side. I turned my head to see the old dear staring at me from, like, 10 feet away, looking like a drag queen being secretly poisoned to death.
At her shoulder was Dáibhéid Straide of the New Land League, all five-foot-nothing of him, with his tiny bald head shining with sweat and his moustache twitching as he worked himself up into a rage at the sight of me. His opening line was, “Did you know it’s against the law to record someone without their permission?”
I went, "I just wanted the whole country to see your girlfriend for the total hypocrite that she is? Now if you don't mind, me and Gerard Adriaan are having a quiet night to ourselves here."
He was there, “Busy week?”
I was like, “I never stopped. There’s no doubt the economy is definitely back.”
Then he went, “Do you think the Susters will come up with the extra money for the house on North Road? Or will it be the Bracewell-Blacks?”
I was like, “They both need to come up with some extra sheks. Wait a minute, how do you know about them?”
He just laughed.
It was the old dear who actually answered. She went, "They're all our people, Ross. The Kennedys. The Bracewell-Blacks. The Susters. All those clients you met in Ashford, Portmarnock and Templeogue…"
I suddenly felt the way Munster must have felt when they signed Clinton Huppert. Suckered.
She was like, “All of the people who looked at that derelict cottage in Shankill…”
“It’s not derelict,” I went, actually shouting at her. “It’s a fixer-upper that would represent a great opportunity for a renovation enthusiast.”
But Dáibhéid went, “They were plants, sent by us to waste your time. And let me tell you, this is just the beginning of our campaign to put Hook, Lyon and Sinker out of business for good.”