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‘Porking in Dundrum is like the Battle of the Bastards from ‘Game of Thrones’’

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: We are surrounded by empty spaces but neither of us are giving up this one

'The old dear texts her mates and cancels – hilarious – supper? I text Sorcha and tell her that I won’t be home tonight and tomorrow doesn’t look promising either.'

It's, like, three weeks until Christmas and in Dundrum Town Centre the competition for porking spaces is like the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones.

No one has quite chopped anyone else’s head off yet but there’s a lot of people using their cor horns to express their anger and it’s easy to see how this could go full Winterfell at any moment.

I spend, like, 20 minutes driving around, my eyes peeled for one of those little green lights that tell you that a porking bay is empty. And then finally I spot one. It’s halfway down the aisle to my left. I swing the wheel and, with a screech of rubber, I head for the space.

And that's when I spot it. A black BMW X5 coming towards me from the other direction – as in, the wrong direction? – and the driver is obviously determined to take the same space.


Anyone who was lucky enough to see me play rugby will tell you that I’m not the kind of man who backs down from a challenge like this.

I floor the accelerator, but so does the driver of the X5 – it’s a game of high performance German cor chicken – and we both swing our noses into the space and slam on the brakes a split-second before our bumpers collide.

I throw open the door and I’m all, “What the fock do you think you’re doing? It’s my space!”

The driver of the X5 winds down their window and goes, “I saw it first, you horrible little . . . skanger.”

And that’s when I realise that the driver of the X5 is my old dear.

I'm there, "This is my space?"

But she's like, "I've been sitting here for the last five minutes. I watched the Nissan Whatever The Hell It Was pull out of it. I followed the driver from the pay station."

“That’s irregordless. You came at it from the wrong direction. It’s a one-way system. You’re supposed to follow the arrows on the ground. Although you’re probably too hungover to see them.”

“One-way? Oh, you’re being petty now!”

“It’s not petty. If this was rugby, that’d be called coming in from the side. As a matter of fact, do you know who I’m going to ask to settle this? Nigel. Owens.”

“Who’s Nigel Owens?”

“I’m going to forget you just said that,” I go, whipping out my phone. “He’s a rugby referee. And the wisest man I know. He’s also happens to be a friend of mine on Twitter. Yeah, no, he settles all sorts of rows between me and Sorcha. In a lot of ways, he’s kept our marriage together.”

“I don’t have time for this, Ross. I’m having the girls over for supper tonight.”

“Hang on, I’m Tweeting him here . . . Now, we’ll await his decision.”

Behind me, someone leans on their horn and I suddenly realise that we’re blocking the entire lane. The dude can’t get past us and he can’t reverse either because there’s a cor immediately behind and one immediately behind that. We’re causing a traffic jam basically.

I’m looking at my phone. I’m there, “He’s usually quicker than this,” but then I remember that it’s Saturday afternoon and he’s almost certainly refereeing a match. “It could be tonight before we get a decision.”

I've got nine energy bors and two litres of water in the boot. I can stay here for the entire weekend if necessary

“Well,” the old dear goes, “I shan’t be moving, Ross. I’ve got a full stomach and an empty bladder and I’m more than capable of seeing this through to the bitter end.”

“Well, I’ve got nine energy bors and two litres of water in the boot. I can stay here for the entire weekend if necessary.”

Some dude in an orange bib eventually walks up to us. He’s obviously some kind of security dude. He goes, “Do you know you’re blocking everyone? The traffic is all backed up all the way up the Sandyford Road.”

But I’m there, “This is my space.”

And the old dear goes, “I saw it first.”

“For God’s sake,” he tries to go, “it’s Christmas! Isn’t one of you prepared to be the bigger person?”

I’m there, “You don’t understand. This is my mother.”

The old dear’s like, “And this is my son.”

And the dude is obviously from South Dublin because he goes, “God help us! God help us all!” then off he focks.

The old dear smiles at me. She goes, “Do you know what this reminds me of, Ross? Do you remember that Christmas when you got all upset because I bought you the wrong football?”

“Er, I asked for a Gilbert ball and you bought me a GAA one.”

“How was I supposed to know the difference?”

"Er, one is normal shaped and the other one is round?"

“And you refused to eat your Christmas dinner, do you remember that?”

“Or my Stephen Zuzz Day dinner. I basically lived on Selection Boxes until you took it back to Elvery’s and changed it.”

“You were so stubborn. I was very impressed.”

“Here, do you know what Christmas I’m suddenly remembering?”

“Go on.”

"It was that time you were singing at midnight Mass in Foxrock Church? And someone else in the choir turned up in the same outfit as you and you refused to sing until she went home and changed."

“Wendy Winterlich! Oh, she thought she could break me as well!”

“Wasn’t it, like, three o’clock in the morning when Mass finally went ahead?”

She laughs at the memory. “It was closer to four o’clock,” she goes. “You and I are quite similar in a lot of ways, aren’t we, dorling?”

I’m like, “Sadly, yes.”

An hour passes. Then another. Then another.

They eventually manage to clear the backlog of cors by closing the actual cor pork and directing the traffic out a different way.

I check my phone. Still nothing from Nigel.

I take an energy bor out of the cor and I bite into it. I can see the old dear salivating watching me eating it

The shops close and the cor pork storts to empty out. We are suddenly surrounded by empty porking spaces but neither of us is prepared to give up this one.

The old dear texts her mates and cancels – hilarious – supper? I text Sorcha and tell her that I won't be home tonight and tomorrow doesn't look promising either.

I take an energy bor out of the cor and I bite into it. I can see the old dear salivating watching me eating it. So I go, “Here,” and I break it in half and share it with her.

That’s what Christmas is about after all.