Honor spent the last four weeks of her life preparing for Heroes, a Mount Anville and Willow Pork joint stage production, in which she and a bunch of other seven- and eight-year-old boys and girls have to give a short speech about someone who has inspired them in their lives.
And I’m going to admit something to you now – yes, I actually made a pitch for myself. That’s what an unbelievable competitor I am.
Honor was in her bedroom, sitting in front of her laptop, looking for inspiration, when I walked in, holding the jersey I wore when I led Castlerock College to glory in 1999.
I was like, "Oh my God, look what I just so happened to find. The jersey I wore in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final back in the day. God, I can't believe I've hung on to it for all these years. I'll probably just throw it in the bin now. Or maybe I'll have it framed and turn one of the spare rooms into a kind of Museum of Me, just to make sure that the public never, ever forgets."
Two or three days later – after a few more equally subtle hints – Honor seemed to have taken the bait. She storted coming to me with questions, like, "What was that quote that Leo Cullen used about you?" and I was there, "Now you're bringing me back, Honor. Let me see can I remember it: 'When he was at school, he was probably the best out-half in the world for his age. I mean, you couldn't see him having anything other than a long and successful career in the game. Only he knows why he didn't actually make it.'"
Honor actually typed this into her MacBook Air, going, "That is, like, so inspiring!"
She spent the next two weeks asking me other questions about my career. ‘After missing the decisive kick in the 1998 final, how difficult a decision was it to come back and repeat sixth year?’
That kind of thing.
So the night of the production, me and Sorcha are in the audience, sitting next to Flidais, the mother of Honor’s obnoxious brat friend, Lindsay. Sorcha leans across me and goes, “Flidais, do you have any idea who Lindsay’s going to talk about?”
“No, he wouldn’t tell me,” she goes. “What about Honor?”
I’m like, “Yeah, no, same. She said she wanted it to be a surprise for me – whatever that might mean!”
We end up sitting through the first 10 or 11 kids. Given that it's south Dublin, nearly all the girls have picked Mary Robinson and nearly all the boys have picked Peter Sutherland.
Then it’s Honor’s turn. Out she steps on to the stage, little angel face on her. She fixes me with a look and she goes, “My hero is someone who set standards for others to follow. My hero is someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the word compromise. My hero is someone who has never been afraid to consistently call it…”
I turn around to Flidais and I go, “I hope she gets all my stats right,” and I stort counting them off on my fingers. “Most points in a schools cup match, most points in a schools cup season, all-time leading schools cup points scorer…”
"My hero," Honor goes, staring straight at me with a butter-wouldn't-melt smile on her face, "is Anna Wintour, the editor in chief at Vogue."
My hort literally falls through the floor?
"Anna Wintour," she goes, "is, like, the number one most important person in the fashion world? But that's not the only reason I love her. She is really, really rude to people. She has no tolerance for timewasters and their bullshit. She doesn't do small talk and you never, ever see photographs of her smiling. She has amazing self-control – she doesn't need to eat just to make herself happy. She's also pro-fur, and when animal rights organisations throw paint at her, she just shrugs it off, because the kind of people who do that are basically plebs and she can afford to buy – oh my God – 50 fur coats a day if that's what she wanted. People are terrified of her. I'd love to be like her one day."
There's a humongous round of applause as Honor steps off the stage, still smiling her evil little smile at me. I watched The Exorcist recently, thinking, 'Why can't we have a nice, normal daughter like that?'
But if Honor’s speech is a shock to my system, worse is to come. Lindsay is up next and Sorcha is suddenly leaning across me again, going, “I wonder who it’ll be, Flidais!”
Lindsay goes, "My hero is many things. She is a mother. She is a homemaker. She is – oh my God – the best cook ever? "
All of the other parents are turning around to Flidais and going, “Oh my God, that is adorable!”
He goes, “She is a caregiver. She is a friend. She is a really, really smart businesswoman, but she also has a social conscience. She cares deeply about the world and its problems.”
Flidais suddenly pulls a face, as if to say, ‘No, I don’t – I couldn’t give a rat’s orse about the world and its problems.’
Lindsay goes, “She is really, really pretty and she has an amazing figure and her hair always smells of apples. People might think that it’s just a silly crush, but when I grow up I really hope she gets divorced so that I can marry her and make her happy, because her current husband is one of those rugby idiots and a complete tool.”
Out of the side of her mouth, Sorcha goes, “Ross, go and bring the cor around.”
I'm like, "No, I want to hear the end of this. Married to a rugby idiot and a complete tool. I'm thinking it's got to be Una Healy out of The Saturdays."
Sorcha goes, “Ross, are you really that slow on the uptake?”
“My hero,” Lindsay goes, “is my friend Honor’s mother, Sorcha O’Carroll-Kelly.”
Flidais goes, “What?”
Aport from that, there’s just, like, silence in the hall.
I’m there, “Well, at least he recognised my rugby… I’ll go and get the cor.”