Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

 

‘I was also going to try to learn one new word per week – or maybe two weeks’

SO I’M HELPING Sorcha to unpack a consignment of elasticated, ergonomic knee supports (€1 a pair) that has just arrived into this Euro Hero store she’s managing in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, and the girl can’t wipe the smile off her face.

She’s obviously still thinking about last week’s book club meeting, when we were supposed to read The Hare With The Amber Eyes and I ended up accidentally reading, I don’t know, The Wind In The Willows or one of those. Stitched up by Fionn, of course. There I was, banging away for 15 or 20 minutes about how the hare should have had a little focking playmate, like an otter or a toad, when Claire from Brayjing turned around and went, “Er, I think you might have actually read the wrong book, Ross?” and all you could hear in the room were, like, embarrassed giggles.

“Go on,” I go. “Say it.” Sorcha’s like, “What?” “I made a complete tit of myself in front of all those people.” “Well, it serves you right, Ross. Joining a book club and getting someone else to read the books for you! That’s like, Oh! My God!” “I suppose it is. I just thought . . .” “What?” “I don’t know. I’d love people to admire me for my mind.” The way she looks at me, you’d swear I said I was about to perform open hort surgery on myself with a focking screwdriver and a rusty spanner.

She’s like, “Your mind?” I’m there, “I do have one, Sorcha.” “I know you do!” I end up just shrugging. “Well, maybe I’m finally tired of being famous for being really good-looking and having an incredible body. I thought if I learned loads of stuff, then I could actually be the complete package. The book club was only the stort of it, by the way. I was also going to try to learn one new word per week – or maybe two weeks.”

She’s trying to hold back the laughter. I’m going to admit it, my feelings end up being hurt.

I walk away from the ergonomic knee supports and I stort stacking the Toy Story 2 sticker books (50c) and the ylang-ylang and cinnamon lip salves (€1 for three).

She obviously feels bad, roysh, because she comes up behind me and I suddenly feel her hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she goes. “I didn’t mean to laugh.” That’s when I end up just spilling the entire thing out.

“Sorcha, me and you are going to be divorced some day in the not-too-distant. And you’re going to be a free agent. And that dude, Gary, has the serious hots for you.” “Gary? Oh my God, he’s just a good neighbour, Ross.”

“Look, take it from me. One player recognises another. He’s interested in you. And you’re possibly interested in him. And there’s no shame in that. But I saw the way you were looking at him when he was using all those big gobstopper words at that first book club meeting and I thought – it’s crazy, I know – ‘I wish I had brains.’”

“Ross, you do have brains.” “Sorcha, I’m thick as pigshit and everyone knows it. There’s fock-all going on in my head except two clowns driving around in a clown cor, parping the horn.” Sorcha hates me being hord on myself. She sort of, like, grabs me in a hug and goes, “Hey, come on, Ross, stop that kind of talk now!”

Then she sort of, like, holds me at orm’s length, looks into my eyes and goes, “I would never want you to be anyone other than yourself, Ross.” “What, just some dude with a great face and a set of abs like a focking washboard?” “You’re one of the most amazing, amazing people I’ve ever met, Ross. And it kills me when people can’t see in you what I see. Do you know what day I was just thinking about there? Do you remember when we went to New York and we were shopping in, like, the meatpacking district?” “I do, yeah.”

“And we went for breakfast. And those meatpackers were making – oh my God – filthy comments to each other about me. And you stood up, walked over to their table and told them they should be more respectful around a lady.” “They crapped it. I should have decked the four of them. End of.” Sorcha smiles. “I don’t know any other guy who’d do something like that, Ross.” It’s amazing, roysh. It’s like my confidence is instantly restored. Except suddenly I need the old Josh Ritter.

I’m there, “I’m just going to, er . . .” Sorcha’s there, “You don’t need to make an announcement, Ross. Go and use the staff toilet.” “Thanks, Babes.” So there I am, sixty seconds later, dropping a lobster in the pot, when all of a sudden I hear all this, like, shouting coming from outside on the shop floor. It’s, like, a man’s voice going, “Why ain’t you get vem mouse traps (€1 for a two-pack) unpacked yet? I told you I wanted vem on the facking shelves yesterday. They’re still in the facking box.” I recognise it as Mr Whittle, Sorcha’s boss, who’s English, by the way – that’s why I’m doing the accent.

I’m up off that toilet like the seat’s on fire. And up go the chinos too. Then I step out into the shop. I notice straight away that Sorcha’s in, like, tears. She’s trying to explain how busy she’s been, except the dude’s not letting her.

He’s going, “You’re facking useless, you know vat?” I suddenly make a big show of, like, clearing my throat. And Mr Whittle turns around and sees me for the first time.

I can tell from his face that he’s getting ready to say something along the lines of, “Oh, look, it’s the cavalry,” except he doesn’t manage to get a single word out.

Because I hit him. Full in the face. And the noise of it. BOOOMF! His eyes go suddenly vacant – it’s sleepybyes time — and his legs stort disappearing underneath him. He staggers backwards and crashes into a display of seventeen-nation euro coin collector albums (50c) and plastic footballs with, like, Manga characters on them (€1) that always travel the same distance no matter how hord you kick them.

Sorcha screams.

And Mr Whittle manages to squeeze six words out through his suddenly swollen lips.

“Get your fings,” he goes. “You’re facking sacked!”

rossocarrollkelly.ie, twitter.com/rossock

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