‘Rugby is no longer a guarantee of anything’
I hear the first tap on the window. There’s a young goy standing there with his mates – they’re, like, 16 or 17 years old. “Dude!” he goes, spreading his orms wide. “What? The actual? Fock?”
It’s hord to put into actual words the power of my new, one-seat, electric, company cor, other than to say it’s like if you fixed four wheels to Sorcha’s hair dryer, then tried to drive the thing to work.
In a lot of ways, it actually reminds me of my relationship with my soon-to-be-teenage daughter in that it doesn’t matter how hord I put my foot down, I end up just getting totally ignored.
But the worst thing of all is the looks I end up getting? For the last 10 years, I’ve been used to people pulling up alongside me at traffic lights, shooting me a sideways glance, then going, “Huh! No recession for some!”
Now, they pull up next to me and go, “What temperature did you wash it at?” or, “Hey, Fred Flintstone, do you think you could run a little faster in that thing?”
Yeah, no, I’ve heard them all at this stage?
Anyway, it’s late in the afternoon and I’m driving back to the office after showing a house in Roquebrune Close, Ranelagh. I end up being overtaken by a JCB on Appian Way and, flustered, I make the mistake of driving through Donnybrook Village. I only realise my error when I’m already on the actual Donnybrook Road, approaching Kielys, and I remember that there’s probably a Leinster Schools Senior Cup match on in Donnybrook today. And if there is, it should be finishing – oh, please, Lord, no – around about now.
The traffic is rammers – we’re talking bomper to literally bomper here – and I’m suddenly stuck behind a silver Toyota Avensis for a full five minutes while the stadium empties out.
I don’t even want to know what two schools are playing? My achievements on the rugby field – not to mention my habit of showing off The Six every time I kicked a penalty or conversion – have made me hated in every school in the South County and beyond.
It’s not long before they spot me sitting there – in a punchline on wheels
Which is why I’m now trying to look invisible, although that’s pretty hord sitting in a one-seat, electric cor with “New Stort Estate Agents” written on the side.
Out of the stadium the crowd pours. Hundreds of kids high on the emotion of singing for two hours about how their South Dublin school is better than other South Dublin schools with exactly the same curriculum, moral values and fee structures.
They’re young people looking for fun. And of course it’s not long before they spot me sitting there – in a punchline on wheels.
First, I hear the laughter, then the silence while they all try to come up with the absolute zinger of a line that they’ll all remember in school tomorrow. I’m just staring at the cor in front of me, thinking, ‘Move! Please, just move!’
That’s when I hear the first tap on the window. I try to ignore it, except there ends up being another, then another and in the end I have no choice but to wind down the window.
There’s a young goy standing there with his mates – they’re, like, 16 or 17 years old. “Dude!” he goes, spreading his orms wide. “What? The actual? Fock?”
Listen to Ross
It’s not a great line, but it makes everyone laugh, then one of his mates – the real comedian in the group – goes, “Where’s the rest of the Playmobil family?”
To be fair to him, he deserves every high-five he ends up getting.
Hang on a second,” he goes, “that’s that goy, Ross O’Something-Kenny. He was big in the 1980s
Then – just what I feared would happen – one of the other kids in the group suddenly recognises me. “Hang on a second,” he goes, “that’s that goy, Ross O’Something-Kenny. He was big in the 1980s.”
I’m there, “Sorry, dude, a case of mistaken identity. Plus, it was actually the late 1990s.”
“I knew it! Oh my God! My old man saw you play rugby!”
“Many claim they did.”
“He said you were, like, better than Johnny Sexton at that age.”
“Then he did see me play.”
The dude turns around to the rest of the crowd and goes, “You have to understand that this goy here actually captained – was it Castlerock College? – yeah, Castlerock College, to victory in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup!”
There’s a definite change in the atmos. The rest of them are suddenly looking at me very differently.
“So why are you driving a shit cor?” one of them goes.
I’m there, “Because rugby is no longer a guarantee of anything.”
They all just shake their heads at the injustice of that idea. Then one of them – with tears in his eyes – goes, “I don’t want to live in a world where someone who lifted the Leinster Schools Senior Cup is forced to sit in traffic in a cor that looks like this. Come on, goys.”
I’m like, “Er, what are you doing?” as he disappears around the back.
I feel the back wheels suddenly lift off the ground, then, a few seconds later, the front wheels.
I’m like, “Seriously, goys, what are you doing?”
A cheer goes up as they manage to hoist the cor over their heads with me still in it, bear in mind?
‘Who’s in the cor?’
They step off the road and on to the actual path. Of course this draws more people over.
I hear someone go, “Who’s in the cor?”
And underneath me, someone else is like, “Ross O’Something-Kenny.”
“Kelly!” I go, sticking my head out the window. “Ross O’Carroll-Kelly!”
“A legend of the schools game. Someone was saying he was better than Johnny Sexton until he pissed it all away. We’re dropping him to – here, goys, where’s he even going?”
I just decide, okay, I might as well just let this happen. It’ll be actually quicker than driving the thing.
“Ballsbridge,” I go. “A few doors up from Crowes.”
They take the left on to Anglesea Road, 20 or 30 of them carrying me shoulder-high, like pallbearers at my funeral, with a crowd of about 400 people following, laughing and chanting, “Ross O’Something-Kenny! Ross O’Something-Kenny!”