Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Sold to the man in the Ireland jersey with a bowtie tied around his neck!’
Who wouldn’t spend too much at a charity auction for a horrible portrait?
Illustration: Alan Clarke
Hansen, Hayes, Rawls and Brannigan Solicitors – formerly Lalor, Tierney, Curran and Brien – have been bought out by Kelly, Doran, Walsh and Moiles. And while that news might not bloat your goat, it means a hell of a lot to Sorcha’s old man, since he was one of the co-founders of the firm, a year or two after he left college.
Anyway, they’re moving to a brand new building down at the IFSC and they’re auctioning off the fixtures and fittings from the original offices on Mount Street, including these humongous portraits of the four founding portners, painted in oil, which hung in the reception area for, like, years?
I rue the day my daughter ever met you. And I weep for the life she could have had if she’d married someone else
Everything is being flogged off at a black-tie dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel. Me and Sorcha have been invited as her old pair’s guests. But her old man isn’t exactly happy with me for arriving straight from the Wales match, in my Ireland rugby jersey and chinos, and three-quarters of the way down the road to Shitfaced City, Missouri.
He’s making that abundantly clear, muttering out of the side of his mouth, going, “I rue the day my daughter ever met you. And I weep for the life she could have had if she’d married someone else.”
Sorcha and her old dear are in the jacks, by the way.
I decide not to take the bait. I just straighten my bowtie, which I borrowed from one of the bormen and which is just, like, tied around my neck.
Some random dude tips over to our table. “Edmund,” he goes, “how the hell are you? What did you make of the match?”
Sorcha’s old man knows the square root of fock-all about the People’s Game. But instead of going, “I’ve no interest in rugby – I’m a complete knob,” he actually tries to spoof it.
He goes, “Yes, it was very interesting, wasn’t it? I thought it was going to go one way but then it went the other.”
A bit like the mouthful of Heineken I’m trying to swallow at the time. I end up nearly choking on it.
“Who’s this chap?” the randomer goes. “Is he with you, Edmund?”
And Sorcha’s old man – exact words – goes, “Yes, he’s, em, a friend of my daughter.”
“Thank God,” the dude goes. “I thought he might have been that awful husband you were telling me about. Finally got rid of him then, did you?”
“I wish,” Sorcha’s old man goes, under his breath.
The randomer eventually focks off and Sorcha and her old dear arrive back from the jacks. Sorcha goes, “Did I miss anything?”
I’m staring hord at Sorcha’s old man, who just goes, “Nothing at all, dorling. The auction is about to stort.”
Which it very soon does? Yeah, no, some dude stands up there and says he hoped we enjoyed our dinner and he tells us to remember to be generous with our bids because all of the money will be going to a very worthy cause.
Listen to Ross
We’re, like, 20 minutes into the thing when someone brings out the first of the portraits of the founding portners – and it ends up being of him? We’re talking Edmund Lalor. Except he’s obviously much younger and he has actual hair. But there’s no mistaking the big, pompous, Fine Gael head on him.
The dude doing the actual auction goes, “Now, I can’t imagine there’s going to be too many bidders for this next item – no offence, Edmund!”
Everyone laughs. It’s for charity.
“So I’m going to stort the bidding at €1,000!” he goes. “Who’ll give me €1,000?”
Sorcha’s old man raises his hand and goes, “I’ll give you €2,000.”
He ends up getting a round of applause, which he loves, of course. Showing off in front of his Law Library mates.
“€2,000!” the auction dude goes. “Is anybody else interested in this very unique artwork – painted in 1972? If not, I am happy to declare the item-“
I suddenly put my hand up and I shout, “3,000 yoyos!”
There are literally gasps in the room – including from Sorcha and her old pair.
Sorcha goes, “Ross, what are you doing?”
I’m there, “I want it.”
“He doesn’t want it,” Sorcha’s old man goes. “He’s just trying to drive up the price,” and then he raises his hand and shouts, “€4,000!”
I’m there, “I’m not trying to drive up the price. I genuinely want the thing,” and then I shout, “5,000 yoyos!”
The crowd are suddenly cheering us on.
“Why?” Sorcha goes. “As in, why would you want a portrait of my dad?”
I’m there, “I’m going to put it on the wall in the man cave – and fock dorts at it.”
The dude’s face turns literally red with rage because he knows I’m being serious.
“Will anyone give me €6,000?” the auction dude goes.
Sorcha’s old man’s there, “I’ll give you €6,000!”
But straight away, I’m like, “I’ll give you €7,000!”
Again – cheers.
Sorcha goes, “Ross, stop it! Stop it right now!”
Sorcha’s old man refuses to take his beating – the fool. He goes, “I’ll give you €8,000!”
Sorcha’s old dear puts her hand on his orm and she’s like, “That’s enough, Edmund! We can’t afford that!” because his bankruptcy has only just ended and she knows I’ll just ask my old man for the money anyway.
I put my hand up and I go, “What about a nice, round 10,000 yoyos?”
“€10,000?” the auction dude goes. “Any advance on that, Edmund?”
Sorcha’s old dear stops her husband from raising his hand.
The auction dude’s like, “Going once, going twice – sold to the man in the Ireland jersey with a bowtie tied around his neck!”
Sorcha and her old pair just stare at me. I can tell they’re furious as I walk up to inspect my prize. God, the man is even uglier up close – the ortist really did him justice.
The auction dude asks if I’ll pose for a photograph with the painting, which I’m happy to do. As it’s being taken, I accidentally on purpose put one of my size-nine Dubes through the canvas.
“Oh, no,” the auction dude goes. “As it happens, I know someone who repairs those.’
“Don’t sweat it,” I go. “I’ve a feeling this thing is going to take a hell of a lot more knocks.”