Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: ‘You’re a bloody good estate agent. You lack basic humanity’
The old man asks me for my thoughts on the budget – like it affects me somehow?
“What budget?” I go.
He points an unlit cigor at me and laughs. “A wonderfully satirical comment,” he goes, “on the annual charade in which we all pretend that our politicians still have some say over our economic policy. Brilliant, Ross. And typical of you to say it in such a laconic and finely honed way.”
I think about giving him the finger but in the end I don’t bother. He’s just making conversation because he doesn’t want me to see how, I don’t know, disappointed he is in me?
He goes, “Leo is an absolute master of spin, of course. All that business about him running marathons, for instance. You know the chap can’t run the length of Grafton Street without a shot of Ventolin? Your godfather calls him Varad the Inhaler!”
It’s at that exact moment – speak of the devil – that Hennessy walks into the Horseshoe Bor.
“I was just telling Kicker,” the old man goes, “about your nickname for young Varadkar! Oh, you’d humour a dying man, Hennessy, there’s no doubt about that!”
Hennessy is no mood for joking, though.
“You haven’t got the brains of a woodlouse,” he goes. It probably goes without saying that he’s talking to me. “How could you do it?”
Yeah, no, he’s referring to me stealing client files from Hook, Lyon and Sinker with the intention of setting up my own estate agency. It turns out that JP’s old man was on to me the entire time and now I’m facing actual criminal chorges.
“Hey,” I go, “I didn’t exactly have good role models growing up, did I? A father who made his fortune from bribing county councillors to let him build thousands of houses on a flood plain. And a godfather who got me work experience burning the evidence in an oil drum with a loaded gun pointed at my head.”
“Hey, I had the safety catch on,” he goes. “And I’m not talking about you stealing files. I’m talking about you getting caught stealing files. How could you be so careless?”
“I didn’t know the dude had spy cameras planted all over the office. I have to say, that’s pretty underhand behaviour on his port. Surely that’s, like, a breach of my privacy slash human rights. If you were any kind of solicitor, you’d be suing him for damages.”
“Varad the Inhaler!” the old man goes. “Dear, oh dear!”
Hennessy orders a round of brandies. “Well,” he goes, “he’s going to be here any minute, so let’s decide on a strategy.”
Listen to Ross
I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa – JP’s old man is coming here?”
“You want to go to jail?” Hennessy goes. “Because that’s the alternative.”
The old man sort of, like, smiles to himself, like he’s about to say something actually wise?
“The last time Bill Clinton was in Dublin,” he goes, “I was fortunate enough to snatch a quick moment of conversation with the chap – in the toilets of the Conrad Hotel, no less! We were sitting in adjoining cubicles and I happened to mention to him, through the separating wall, some of the problems I was having with that cheese shop that Helen and I had opened in the Merrion Shopping Centre.
“Well, it was mostly the smell, you see. That wheel of Pont-l'Évêque that arrived just before Christmas 09 was the straw that broke the proverbial what-have-you and the other traders wanted us out. Oh, they couldn’t wait to see the back of Cheeses Merrion Joseph. Of course, I told Bill Clinton all of this and he said something to me so profound that I subsequently had the words embroidered on the inside of every single one of my suits: ‘Business always finds a way.’”
“Business always finds a way!” Hennessy goes, enjoying the feel of the words in his mouth like rare Wagyu fillet. “Business! Always! Finds a way!”
“At least that’s what I think he said,” the old man goes. “He was flushing at the time.”
I’m there, “Maybe he said, ‘Let’s hope this all gets away.’”
The old man silently mouths the words to himself three or four times, then he goes, “No, I’d like to think it was the other one.”
I’m like, “You might as well say it, by the way. As in, ‘I told you so’?”
He goes, “I’m sorry, I’m rather at a loss here as to-.”
“You told me that I wasn’t clever enough to go into business for myself.”
“I didn’t say you weren’t clever enough.”
“You said I had a rugby brain.”
“Well, in some company, that would be considered a compliment.”
“What, among other rugby players? Anyway, you were proved right. So – like I said – fair focks.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Kicker. Don’t forget, you’re one of the reasons why house prices are increasing at a rate of €50 per day and newly married couples are going to be forced to live with their parents and in-laws for the next decade and more.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It was intended as a compliment. You’re a bloody good estate agent, Ross. I’ve heard your lack of emotion and basic humanity mentioned in – inverted commas – dispatches.”
And that’s when JP’s old man walks into the bor. He gives me a serious filthy as well. “You,” he goes. “I gave you everything. I made you the managing director of Hook, Lyon and Sinker ahead of my own son. I trusted you like you were my own. And you betrayed me by stealing from me?”
The old man goes, “I was rather hoping you could see your way clear to withdrawing your complaint against him.”
JP’s old man actually laughs. He’s like, “And why would I do that?”
“Well, Hennessy and I would like to make you an offer on the business.”
“You want to buy Hook, Lyon and Sinker?”
“We’d certainly like to discuss it? Brandy?”
JP’s old man pulls up a high stool. I go to do the same, but Hennessy goes, “Not you. Take a walk around the block.”
I’m like, “Excuse me? Should I not be here, given that I’m still technically the managing director of the company?”
“Probably best you recuse yourself,” the old man goes. “What with your, em, rugby brain.”