Sorcha has decided that, for as long as this lockdown lasts, we should all get dressed every morning as if it’s just a regular day. She’s not saying it explicitly, but I suspect this has something to do with the Zoom call with her family on Easter Monday, when I stood up – totally forgetting that I was wearing boxer shorts – and apparently “popped out”.
I know Sorcha’s old dear was upset about it, because I could hear Sorcha on the phone to her afterwards, going, “Breathe, Mom! Breathe!”
Simon Harris can talk about the "new normal" until he's blue in the face, but there's no way to prepare any woman in her seventies for the experience of being flashed by her son-in-law – even if her daughter tries to persuade her subsequently that she was hallucinating on her blood-pressure meds.
Anyway, Sorcha called a family conference that afternoon and pointed out that – much like the fly of my favourite Jockey briefs – we’d all become a bit too slack in recent weeks. The upshot was that she wanted us all to wear clothes – trousers were specifically mentioned – for as long as this corona crisis lasts.
So, twenty minutes later, I’m dressing little Leo and I’m struggling to fasten the top button on his chinos.
I’m like, “Sorcha, have these shrunk?”
She’s there, “What?”
"Er, Leo's trousers – they've won't, like, close?"
“That’s because he’s put on weight, Ross. Did you see how much chocolate the boys ate over the weekend?”
I did. The Easter egg hunt was pure focking terrifying. The three of them went through the gorden like shorks scenting chump. I watched Leo and Johnny lift Sorcha's Nissan Leaf off the ground so that Brian could check under it for chocolate.
Sorcha's there, "We're all in the same boat, Ross. We've been stuck in for nearly five weeks now. We've been eating, like, twice what we normally would, plus not exercising?"
She’s actually right. I notice Brian’s belly hanging over the waistband of his trousers like an untrimmed pie.
"Jesus," I go, having a moment of, like, serious parental guilt, "what kind of a rugby father am I?"
Sorcha’s there, “What are you talking about?”
“Letting them get out of shape like that. I might give Fla a ring.”
I laugh. I’ll tell him she said that.
I'm there, "Fla is the great Jerry Flannery. A hero of mine and, I'm proud to say, one of my best friends in the world on the rare occasions that he's actually talking to me. There's nothing he doesn't know about strength and condition... Okay, I've just remembered, he's not actually talking to me."
Yeah, no, he focked me out of the bor last summer for heckling the singer while he was performing Limerick You're a Lady – a statement to which I apparently took drunken exception.
"We don't need Jerry Flannery," Sorcha goes. "We'll just use Joe Wicks. "
I'm there, "Joe Wicks? Who did he play for?"
“He didn’t play for anyone – as far as I know. He’s the Body Coach. He’s on, like, TV and – oh my God – all over social media. He’s doing online workouts for kids during the lockdown – nine o’clock every morning.”
"Jesus Christ, nine o'clock is very early, Sorcha."
"Well, I know from Instagram that Lauren is doing it every morning with Ross jnr and Oliver. And JP is doing it with little Isa. And William Whelehan is doing it with Currer Bell."
She knows exactly what she’s doing, because this suddenly awakens the competitor in me. So the following morning at, like, ten to nine, I’m shaking the boys awake and telling them that it’s PE time.
“Get the fock out,” Leo goes, “you fat bastard.”
"Yeah, you're the fat bastard," I remind him. "That's why we have to get up at stupid o'clock to exercise."
He's not wrong, in fairness. My Leinster training top is definitely a bit snugger on me than usual. I may have gone too hord on the chocolate myself. Still, as I tell the boys while I'm setting up the laptop in the kitchen, I could burn off a stone in two weeks back in my rugby-playing days after a summer on the serious piss.
So anyway, a few minutes later, we’re doing our warm-up with the famous – yeah, no – Joe Wicks. At the beginning, it’s mostly just lunges and I’m being a bit more Sorgeant Major than Joe with my instructions.
It's while we're bending down to supposedly touch our toes that I stort to feel weirdly faint
I’m like, “If it’s not hurting, you’re not doing it right, Johnny! Come on – hip flexor, hamstring, hip flexor, hamstring! That’s it! Feel the burn!”
It's the same while we're doing the table top stretch, the orm swings and the whole running on the spot thing? I'm going, "Move your orse, Leo! You're supposed to be backs! I don't want you goys coming out of this lockdown looking like a hooker and two props! Move it!"
It’s while we’re bending down to supposedly touch our toes that I stort to feel weirdly faint. I stretch my right hand down as far as my – being honest – left shin and I can suddenly hear what sounds like rushing water in my ears. I’m also out of breath and I’m wondering is it because I’ve been shouting at the boys so much?
“Okay,” Joe Wicks goes, “that’s our warm-up completed. Now, let’s do our first exercise.”
Our first exercise? I’m already focked. Seriously, my hort is beating like a jack-hammer and I’m sweating pints.
“Right,” Joe Wicks goes, “a nice gentle exercise to start us off. Knees together. We’re going to do two lateral jumps to the left, then two vertical jumps. Can we do that?”
Jesus, my breathing is seriously ragged now and I think I’m going to genuinely vom.
I’m like, “That’s it… goys… Jump – no, Johnny… left is.. that way… One, two,” and suddenly I notice this, like, black border around the edges of my vision. “Now, goys… jump up… into the air... Pretend… you’re big… Devin T-.”
And that’s when everything goes suddenly dork.
The next thing I remember is feeling the hordwood floor against my back and a cold facecloth on my forehead. And hearing Sorcha go, “No, we’re not going to bury your daddy in the gorden, Leo. He’s not dead – he’s just not as fit as he used to be.”