‘Leo shouts “This is focking bullshit!” and he’s not wrong – 2½ years old or not’
Ross O’Carroll Kelly: The family is flying to the south of France. It hasn’t started well
She keeps kicking the back of my seat. It’s not once or twice either. It’s over and over and over again. I’m close to cracking up and we’re not even on the runway yet.
I end up having to turn around to her. I’m there, “Honor, will you please stop kicking the back of my basic seat?” but she just repeats what I said in a voice that makes me sound, well, not the brightest.
The week in Cap-d’Ail was planned a long time back. Sorcha’s old man has a villa out there, which he managed to hang on to after the bankruptcy because it was in his wife’s name. Sorcha suggested we all head down there for a week of R and . . .
She boots my seat again. I try a different tack this time – a bit of reverse psychology. I’m like, “Oh, you’ve kicked my seat again! How very mature of you, Honor!”
But she just goes, “That’s your comeback? Oh my God, that is so lame!”
While this is happening, by the way, Sorcha is sitting two seats away from her, chatting to some old lady across the aisle about her new job in LinkedIn. She’s going, “It’s the first place I’ve ever worked where it feels like an actual community, if that makes any sense?”
Leo, sitting beside me, suddenly shouts, “This is focking bullshit!” and he’s not wrong – 2½ years old or not. We’ve been on this plane for, like, an hour and we still haven’t moved an inch. “Pack! Of focking! Bullshit!”
Sorcha goes, “Ross, can you tell Leo to stop shouting that, but in a way that doesn’t undermine his self-esteem or create taboos around the actual words?”
I’m like, “Leo,” trying to remember the spiel from the book, How To Be A (Real) Dublin 4 Mother, “while I can understand your reasons for wanting to shout that, and while respecting your intellectual independence-”
“You’re an asshole,” Brian, next to him, says to me.
And I’m just there, “Maybe you’re the asshole, Brian – have you thought about that?”
Honor kicks the back of my seat again – really hord this time?
And that’s when one of the air-hostesses – I’m not sure if that’s sexist anymore – makes a sudden announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she goes, “we would like to apologise once again for the delay to this service to Nice. This flight is fully booked and we have a member of our airline staff who has to travel to Nice due to a Personal Priority. We are asking for a passenger to volunteer to give up his or her seat, for which we will offer you €300 in compensation and accommodate you on the next flight in six hours.”
The next voice I hear is Sorcha’s. She’s like, “Ross, sit down.”
It turns out I actually stood up in all the excitement.
I’m there, “A Personal Priority, Sorcha. It sounds kind of serious. And you know me, if there’s a chance to help someone who’s in trouble . . .”
I’m thinking, six hours of peace and quiet. I could spend that time drinking my way through those 300 yoyos, then arrive in Cap d’Ail, completely shit-faced and of a better mind to cope with my children.
She goes, “Ross, I said sit down.”
Which is what I end up having to do?
Honor laughs – cruelly, it has to be said. She’s like, “Oh my God, you’re having a nervous breakdown! That’s hilarious!”
Sorcha goes back to talking to the old biddy across the aisle. She goes, “It genuinely feels more like a college campus than a stuffy workplace. I actually love what I’ve storted to call my LinkedIn life. For instance, I’m already the captain of the LinkedIn Summer Softball team.”
Yeah, no, that’d be typical Mount Anville behaviour, of course – to join something then, within five minutes, try to take it over. If Sorcha had been at the Last Supper, we’d all be saying our prayers to her now and Jesus Christ would just be some random punter whose old man had a big job.
Another – again, sorry – air-hostess walks past? I go, “Is there any word on that dude with the Personal Priority? I can’t stop thinking about him.”
But she’s like, “No, but do you think you could get your children to stop swearing like that? Some of the passengers have complained.”
I’m there, “I’ve asked them to stop – in a roundabout way – but they just keep on doing it. We’ll all just have to put up with it unfortunately until they hopefully grow out of it.”
Off the woman walks, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
Honor goes, “Is there any word on that dude with the Personal Priority?” again making it sound like there’s something wrong with me. “You would do anything to get off this plane!”
She’s not wrong.
“You’re an asshole,” Brian goes.
There’s suddenly another announcement. “Ladies and gentleman,” the same air-hostess goes, “having failed to get a volunteer to give up their seat on the flight, we are going to have to randomly select a passenger by seat number to leave the aircraft.”
“Oh my God, a raffle,” I go, whipping out the stub from my boarding pass.
“And the seat number is . . .”
I’m like, “Please be 30A. Please be 30A. Please be 30A.”
She goes, “It’s 30A!”
I jump up. I’m like, “Yes!” and I turn around to Honor. “In! Your! Face!”
Sorcha’s there, “Ross, what are you doing?”
I’m like, “I won, Sorcha! The three hundred snots and the day on the lash in the departure lounge! It’s the first thing I’ve ever won – non-rugby-related obviously!”
Sorcha goes, “Ross, you are not getting off this plane!”
I’m there, “Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice, Sorcha! It’s the luck of the draw! You little beauty!”
That’s when the old biddy that Sorcha’s talking the ear off decides to suddenly pipe up. “I’ll get off,” she goes.
I’m like, “Excuse me?”
She’s there, “I’m travelling on my own. I couldn’t leave your wife on her own with all those children.”
I’m there, “Why don’t you mind your own business?”
But Sorcha goes, “That’s very decent of you. Thank you.”
And Honor kicks the back of my chair again and goes, “I am going to make this week even more miserable for you now.”