Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘I wouldn’t be shocked if she was running a meth lab out of her bedroom’
A dickhead of a smoke alorm ruins Ross’s night and leads him to a surprising discovery
‘What noise? Oh my God, you’re hearing things’
So it’s, like, four o’clock in the morning and I’m lying in bed when I suddenly hear it. It’s, like, a high-pitched beep – or rather three high-pitched beeps in quick succession. And, in that moment, all I can think is, “Jesus, not this! Oh, Lord, where is your mercy?”
Because the smoke alorm is telling us that its battery needs replacing.
I do the usual thing. I try to ignore it. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night with a full bladder. You think, “I’ll be getting up in five hours anyway. I’ve no problem putting up with the discomfort if the alternative is getting out of actual bed.”
But what I haven’t factored into the equation is the fact that Sorcha is awake as well. She goes, “Ross, can you not hear that?”
And I’m like, “Hear what?”
“The battery from the smoke alorm needs changing.”
“I can’t hear anything, Sorcha. I genuinely, genuinely can’t hear anything.”
I turn over in the bed. Of course, she knows I’m doing that thing I do whenever she tells me that the dishwasher needs emptying or the bag in the Brabantia needs changing – in other words, ignoring her in the hope that she gets fed up mentioning it and just does it herself.
Five minutes later, the beeps go again and I make a sort of snoring noise to try to convince her that I’m asleep. But then she knees me in the small of my back and I sort of, like, howl in pain.
“Ross,” she goes, “I just heard it again.”
I’m there, “If it’s bothering you, Sorcha, maybe you should get up and change the – like you said – battery?”
“No,” she goes, throwing back the duvet on my side of the bed, “you get up and change the battery. I’ve been telling you all week that the battery warning light was on and you ignored me – like you do when the dishwasher needs emptying or the bin is full.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re paranoid.”
“Go and change the battery.”
So I end up having no choice in the matter. I get out of bed and I look up at the dickhead of a thing. “Okay,” I go, “I’ll just take the battery out of it.”
Sorcha’s there, “You will not just take the battery out of it! What if there’s a fire in the night? There are spare batteries in the bottom drawer in the kitchen and the stepladder is in the utility room.”
I’m there, “Do you really think I’m that stupid?” She doesn’t answer. I take it as a yes.
So I head downstairs, still half asleep. I grab the ladder and the battery and I go back upstairs. In the pitch dork of the room, I try to unscrew the cover from the alorm, but the thing won’t budge.
“Yeah, could you make any more noise?” Sorcha goes.
I’m there, “The thing won’t screw off.”
Listen to Ross
“It doesn’t screw off, Ross. It slides off.”
She’s right. I pull the thing towards me and it comes off in my hand. I change the battery. I bring the stepladder back downstairs to the utility room, then I go back to bed.
Literally 60 seconds later, I hear the beeps again. Sorcha grabs me by the shoulder and shakes me.
I’m there, “I can’t hear anything, Sorcha. I swear on my mother’s life.”
She goes, “Well, it’s still beeping.”
“For the love of God, I changed the battery. There’s nothing else we can do now short of putting the house up for sale in the morning.”
“Stop being so dramatic. Are you sure you changed the battery?”
“Er, you watched me change the battery – from the comfort of the bed as well.”
“What I mean is, did you definitely put the new one in? As in, if you had the two batteries in your hand, you might have accidentally put the old one back in.”
I’m there, “Do you really think I’m that stupid?”
She doesn’t answer. I take it as a yes.
The thing beeps again.
“Oh my God,” Sorcha goes, having finally figured it out. “You changed the battery in the wrong smoke alorm!”
I’m like, “Excuse me?”
“Listen! It’s the one on the landing that’s beeping!”
I throw back the duvet in a – literally? – rage? I’m there, “I’m going to hit it with a focking shovel. That’ll put a stop to its carry-on.”
Sorcha goes, “Ross, just change the battery, then come back to bed.”
I step out onto the landing and I hear the noise again. Except, I realise, it’s not coming from the smoke alorm above my head. It’s coming from Honor’s room.
This sudden feeling of dread comes over me. I walk over to the door and I grab the handle, not sure what I’m expecting to see on the other side. Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be 100 per cent shocked if she was running a meth lab out of her bedroom – and I’m saying that as her father.
I pull the handle down and push the door. And as I do, I hear the beeping noise again – except, up close, it’s not a beeping noise. It’s more like a screeching noise?
Honor goes, “Shush, shush, shush!”
I turn on the light. I’m like, “Honor, what’s going on?”
She goes, “What noise? Oh my God, you’re hearing things. It’s all those knocks to the head you took in your focking failure of a rugby career.”
I walk over to her bed and I pull back her sheets. And there, lying beside her, under the covers, is – quite literally – a dog.
I’m like, “What the fock is that?”
She goes, “It’s a cocker spaniel.”
“I’m not asking what breed it is, Honor. Where did you get it?”
“I found him. He was abandoned. And, just so you know, I’m keeping him.”
“You’re not keeping him.”
“I am keeping him. His name is Baxter. And I’ve been training him. Watch this.”
And that’s when the most amazing thing happens. She goes, “Owen Farrell! Baxter? Owen Farrell! Owen Farrell!”
And the dog – I swear to God – bears its teeth and storts growling like it’s about to attack something.
What can I say? My daughter knows how to twist me around her little finger.
I’m there, “Does he do other players? Billy Vunipola, for example?”
She goes, “I can train him to do anything! Dad, can I keep him?”
And I’m there, “I’ll talk to your mother.”