Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Are you the same guy who first called Mullingar the Gateway to Dublin?’
If JP is crazy enough to think he can take the chest-bump out of selling houses, he’s crazy enough to do anything
I arrive to work at my usual er-yeah-whatever o’clock and I cop it the moment I swing the old Five Serious into my porking space outside. It’s gone. I’m talking about the sign above the shop. It’s been, like, removed? And all that remains in its place is a slight discolouration on the wall where the letters used to be – the big, brass ones that once spelt out the words Hook, Lyon and Sinker.
I push the door and in I go. JP looks at me and goes, “Ah, Ross,” then makes a big show of looking at his watch, to try to make the point that 11am is no time to be breezing in to work. “Glad you could join us!”
I go, “Are you taking my nine-year-old daughter’s correspondence course in Passive-Aggression or something?”
He laughs, even though he’s not amused, then he goes, “We’re about to have a staff meeting.”
I’m like, “Dude, where’s the sign gone? As in, why doesn’t it say Hook, Lyon and Sinker above the door any more?”
His voice suddenly drops to, like, a whisper? “Ross,” he goes, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t call me Dude any more – certainly not in front of the staff.”
I’m like, “I’ve been calling you Dude since we were, like, six years old. Jesus, we played rugby together!”
“I know we played rugby together. But that’s not an excuse for everything, Ross.”
“It used to be. So what am I supposed to call you – Mr Conroy?”
He doesn’t answer – just lets it hang in the air between us.
I’m there, “You’re dreaming! You’re actually dreaming!”
He goes, “I think it would help everyone come to terms with the fact that I’m now running the show – including you.”
“You’re only running the show until your old man gets better.”
His old man had, like, a hort attack a few weeks ago.
He goes, “That won’t be happening – as in, he won’t be coming back to work. So everyone needs to understand that I’m in chorge of this estate agency now.”
I’m there, “The thing is, Dude, I had this conversation with your old man – it was, like, five minutes before he keeled over – and he clearly said that he wanted me to take over the running of Hook, Lyon and Sinker if anything ever happened to him. I mean, has he mentioned anything to you about that?”
“He’s not thinking about work, Ross. He’s thinking about getting better.”
“Dude, if I could just talk to him – even for, like, five minutes.”
“That’s not going to happen. And again – the whole Dude thing?”
“Look, JP, I honestly can’t picture myself ever calling you Mr Conroy.”
“Well,” he has the cheek to go, “there are lots of other estate agencies in this city where you could work. There’s one three doors down. They call each other Dude – they also chest-bump each other when they make a sale.”
I’m like, “Whoa! Are you saying you’re banning the chest-bump?”
He doesn’t respond, just claps his hands together twice, then at the top of his voice goes, “Okay, everyone, staff meeting – take off your headsets. I want everyone’s full attention.”
People finish whatever it is they’re doing and they pull over their chairs. I’m just staring at this dude I no longer recognise as my friend and former teammate, thinking, “If he’s crazy enough to think he can take the chest-bump out of selling houses, he’s crazy enough to do anything.’
“Okay,” he goes, “as you all know, my father is, em, indisposed at the moment due to illness. On his behalf, I’d just like to say thank you to all of you for your kind messages wishing him a speedy recovery. I also wanted to let you all know that I’m going to be taking over operations on a permanent basis and there are going to be some changes in the way we do things, effective from today. For 20 years now, Hook, Lyon and Sinker has been a byword for unscrupulous practices in the areas of selling and letting.”
We’re all just, like, nodding. We worked hord to build up that reputation.
“Well, from today,” JP goes, “that’s all going to change. I want people to think of us as the ethical estate agency.”
Everyone’s just, like, looking at each other, wondering has he been drinking.
He goes, “I want us to be 100 per cent straight and above board in our dealings with customers. For instance, we don’t use flowery language to exaggerate the merits of our properties.”
I’m there, “Can I just check? You are the same JP Conroy who first called Mullingar the Gateway to Dublin, are you? Because there are people in this country who have to get up at midnight to stort the commute to work because of you – and I’m saying that as a compliment.”
He’s like, “I know what happened in the past, Ross. I’m talking about what’s happening now. We don’t exaggerate the merits of our properties and we don’t inflate prices to over and above what our properties are actually worth. We don’t lie to prospective buyers about the level of interest in a property. We don’t pretend they’re in an auction situation when they’re actually not.”
I go, “Dude...”
He’s like, “It’s Mr Conroy.”
“Yeah,” I go, “I’m not calling you Mr Conroy, so get that out of your head. Look, I respect you as an estate agent. You were the one who came up with the idea that Ranelagh, Rathmines and Rathgar could be Dublin’s TriBeCa – I mean, you invented the phrase RaRaRa. But this is crazy talk.”
“Crazy or not, this is how it’s going to be. Ross, those new aportments you’re selling from the plans? You’re not selling them any more.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Because there isn’t room to turn a blind eye in them. If people want to buy a kennel, they can go to a pet shop. We don’t deal in repossessed Killiney mansions either. And, as to your earlier question, Ross, yes, I’m banning the chest-bump.”
Someone else goes, “Why has the name gone from above the door?”
And JP’s there, “Because this estate agency is no longer called Hook, Lyon and Sinker. From this day forward, we’ll be known as Bloodless, Human, Good.”
I’m giving it a month.
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE