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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Are you suggesting I pretend to have Covid?’ Sorcha goes

I end up lying on her behalf to get her out of an unwanted visit to – oh my God – Lusk

‘Carolanne wants to meet up for a drink,’ Sorcha goes. ‘Tomorrow’

Carolanne from Lusk and Drunk Tony have broken up. And according to Sorcha, it was Carolanne who did the actual deed.

"So what happened?" I go, feeling instantly sorry for him?

“It turns out he’s possibly an alcoholic,” Sorcha goes.

I’m there, “His nickname is Drunk Tony, Sorcha.”

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“I thought that was because he liked, I don’t know, drinking all the time.”

“Yeah, no, that’d be one of the tell-tale signs of alcoholism all right.”

Carolanne and Tony are friends of ours – but not as in, like, friends friends? They're basically a couple we met one year in Portugal and ended up hanging around with them. And then, when Carolanne suggested staying in touch, Sorcha – having clearly learned nothing from me over the years – gave her our real address and phone number.

So we’d meet up with them, like, once or twice a year. I’d always dread it but then end up having a great time, although that was mainly down to Tony. He’s one of those dudes who’s, like, genuinely interested in you and he gives out little compliments that make you feel amazing about yourself. Just as an example, he asked me once if my calves were natural or if I’d had implants and I was, like, literally walking on air for days afterwards. Then another time, he told me that someone with my knowledge of rugby should have his own podcast – and I genuinely thought about storting one before I decided that it was too much work and I couldn’t be focking bothered.

“Carolanne wants to meet up for a drink,” Sorcha goes. “Tomorrow.”

And I laugh.

I’m there, “She’s doing the ring-around to claim ownership of the friends, is she? It’s going to be a hord-sell for the girl. I mean, Tony’s the fun one.”

“He always makes me feel amazing about myself.”

"He has a genuine gift for it, Sorcha. Whereas she's as dry as an Easter week in Knock."

"She wants me to go out to her. She says she's always wanted me to see Lusk."

“See Lusk? Jesus Christ.”

“I’m obviously trying to think of a way out of it.”

“Hey, I did warn you not to give them your actual number, Sorcha. This is why I always leave off a digit or two.”

“That’s what you did when I met you.”

“You were persistent, in fairness to you.”

“Ross, what am I going to do? I’m not being a bitch, but – oh my God – Lusk!”

"You could tell her that you've got, well, you know…"

"I don't know. What are you talking about?"

“I’m talking about symptoms, Sorcha.”

"Oh my God, are you actually suggesting that I pretend to have Covid?"

“Not Covid. I said symptoms. Say you’ve got a headache and a runny nose and you don’t want to take the risk because you still haven’t had the second jab yet.”

“I couldn’t do that.”

Honor walks into the kitchen then and catches the tail-end of the conversation.

"Oh my God," she goes, "everyone does it!"

Sorcha goes, “But I’d feel too guilty.”

I’m like, “Yeah, your conscience is something you can switch on and off, you know?”

“Ross, I was a founding member of the Madeleine Sophie Barat Prayer Circle at school.”

“Enjoy Lusk, so.”

She suddenly hands her mobile to me and goes, “You do it for me, will you?”

I’m like, “Me?”

"You said it yourself, you don't actually mind lying? Just write her a text – from me – saying that I'm feeling a bit under the weather, better safe than sorry and blah, blah, blah."

So – yeah, no – that's what I end up doing? I say I've got what feels like a cold coming on and I'm going to isolate until I can get a test done and it looks like Lusk will have to remain on the bucket list until another day. Carolanne texts back straight away to say that that's so typical of you to do the responsible thing and PLEASE mind yourself and you're going to be pleasantly surprised by Lusk when you hopefully one day see it.

The founding member of the Madeleine Sophie Barat prayer circle, who couldn't lie, suddenly taking to it like a donkey to a strawberry patch

Anyway, the following day, we’re all in the cor when Sorcha’s friend, Amie with an ie, rings.

"Hey, Amie," Sorcha goes, "I have you on speaker phone because I'm driving. We're off to Dundrum! "

"Dundrum?" Amie with an ie goes. "Er, should you even be out?"

“Why shouldn’t I be out?”

“Carolanne said you might have Covid.”

Sorcha looks at me in, like, horror. "I forgot," she silently mouths to me, "they work in Accenture! "

Honor looks up from her phone and goes, “Oh my God! Hill! Air!”

“Are you still there?” Amie with an ie goes.

Sorcha’s like, “Yeah, no, when I said I was going to Dundrum, I meant to get, like, tested?”

"I didn't know there was a testing centre in Dundrum."

“Yeah, no, there is,” Sorcha goes. “Like I said, I’m on my way there now,” the founding member of the Madeleine Sophie Barat prayer circle, who couldn’t lie, suddenly taking to it like a donkey to a strawberry patch. I’m sure Sr Consuelo would be very proud of her.

“And you wouldn’t have thought of, like, texting me, no?” Amie with an ie goes.

Sorcha’s like, “Texting you?”

"Er, to say you had symptoms? I saw you, like, two days ago. I'm a close contact."

Sorcha stares at me. She looks mad enough to legally kill me.

“Oh my God,” Honor goes. “Funniest! Thing! Ever!”

“And now I’ve driven all the way out to Lusk,” Amie with an ie goes, “to see Carolanne. Because she’s broken up with Drunk Tony. And if you’ve given it to me, there’s a very good chance that I’ve given it to her.”

“I was pretty sure I did text you,” is all Sorcha can think to say. “But it mustn’t have sent.”

"And what about everyone else who was at the borbecue? Chloe? Sophie? Lauren? Did you tell them that you have symptoms?"

And, of course, the only sensible thing to do at that point is to bail on the lie and tell Carolanne the truth. It was a holiday friendship that went too far and that Drunk Tony and the way he made us all feel was the only reason we hung on so long.

But Sorcha doesn’t say that. Instead, she goes, “I’ll, em, ring them all now to tell them I have symptoms.”