‘Sorcha looks at the processed cheese sandwich like it’s John the Baptist’s head’
Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: She believes processed cheese is a slippery slope to drug addiction
The gaff is rammers when we arrive. Half of Ronan’s estate must be here, crammed into his kitchen – all of him and Shadden’s mates, then all the neighbours as well
So today is the birthday of my six-year-old – I still can’t believe I’m saying this word? – but granddaughter? Yeah, no, little Rihanna-Brogan. It seems like only yesterday.
Blah, blah, blah.
The gaff is rammers when we arrive. Half of Ronan’s estate must be here, crammed into his kitchen – all of him and Shadden’s mates, then all the neighbours as well. Shadden’s old dear, Dordeen, offers Sorcha a sandwich of processed cheese and Sorcha looks at the plate like it contains the head of John the Baptist.
“How, em, lovely,” she goes, then she takes one, although I don’t see her actually eat it? Sorcha’s old pair brought her up to believe that processed cheese was the top of a slippery slope that would lead to drug addiction and prostitution.
“Grandad!” Rihanna-Brogan shouts, then comes chorging at me across the kitchen. I pick her and swing her round.
I’m there, “I told you, don’t call me that – not while I’m still young enough to do a job on the rugby field, even at Tag level. Call me Ross. Or Rosser. Or Rossmeister.”
She goes, “It’s moy beertday today, Rosser!”
I’m there, “I know it’s your birthday! And I’ve got something for you!”
I put her down, then I whip the cord out of my jacket pocket. Her face lights up. She tears it open, then opens the cord and sees the two 50 yoyo notes inside. She looks confused. She checks the floor to see did she drop the rest.
The O’Carroll-Kelly genes are strong in the girl.
Ronan goes, “What do say, Rihanna-Brogan?”
She’s like, “Tanks.”
“You’re welcome,” I go. “It would have been more, except your old man – for whatever reason – wants you to grow up appreciating the value of money.”
Yeah, no, I don’t understand it either. Although Ronan told me that the five grand I gave her for Christmas last year caused a spike in inflation locally.
There’s suddenly a knock at the door and Ronan asks me to go and answer it. So I do. It ends up being my old man.
“My great granddaughter!” he goes, stepping into the hallway. “Six years young today, eh?”
I’m there, “What did you get her?”
“Well, money, naturally.”
“Did you get Ronan’s text message. It can’t be more than a 100 yoyos this year.”
“Yes, I got it. I have to say, I don’t understand all this – quote-unquote – modern parenting.”
“He said he doesn’t want her to turn out like Honor.”
“What in the name of Hades is wrong with the way Honor has turned out?”
And we both stand there for a good 20 seconds, neither of us knowing where to even begin. That’s when I cop the rolled-up something-or-other under his orm.
I’m there, “What’s that, by the way?”
He tries to actually fob me off.
He goes, “Oh, it’s nothing, Kicker. Don’t you worry about it.”
I’m there, “No, what is it?” and I grab it out of his hands, then unroll it. It ends up being some kind of
I’m like, “Is this that prison that Leo Varadkar has asked you to build on Lambay Island for people who don’t get up early in the morning?”
He snatches it back from me. “It’s for people who defraud the social welfare system,” he goes. “And for people who fail to pay their water charges when they’re inevitably reintroduced. The likes of that People Before Profit crowd. Before profit, Kicker! Before it? I mean, can you believe the gall of these people?”
I’m there, “Stop trying to change the subject. Why are you bringing that map here?”
“Well, cards on the proverbial table, Ross, I was rather hoping that young Ronan might take a look at the plans and see if he can’t spot any glitches. Possible escape routes, ways off the island we may have overlooked, etcetera, etcetera.”
“No. It’s not happening.”
“He has a genuine gift, Ross. He can see things that other people can’t.”
“He’s my son. You are not using him as some kind of, I don’t know, prison security Rainman.”
“Well, as a matter of fact, Hennessy and I were considering offering the chap a part-time job – as a security consultant. All above board, of course. We’ll obviously pay in cash.”
“I said no. My son has somehow turned out to be a great kid, even though he’s related to people like you.”
“What do you mean by people like me?”
“Er, you’re a criminal? ”
“White collar, Ross. There is a distinction.”
“Yeah, whatever bloats your goat. Ronan is studying Law. He could turn out to be a force for good in the world or a force for bad. That’s why I have to keep him away from the likes of you and Hennessy.”
And that’s when Ronan suddenly steps out into the hallway. He goes, “Ah, how’s she cutting, Cheerlie?” and he gives his grandad a big hug.
I’m there, “He was just leaving, Ro. He’s got a 100 yoyos for Rihanna-Brogan. He can’t stay, though. I was just going to take it off him.”
Ro goes, “Go on ourra that. You’ll cub in and hab a sandwich, Cheerlie.”
Yeah, good luck trying to get him to eat processed cheese.
The old man goes, “I have all the time in the world, Ronan!”
Then Ro cops the map. He goes, “What’s that Cheerlie, me ould boy?”
I’m like, “It’s nothing. Forget you even saw it.”
He sticks out his hand and of course the old man is only too happy to hand it over. Ronan opens it out.
I’m there, “It’s that prison he’s supposedly building.”
He’s changed the name from Aqutraz to Robbin’ Island.
Ronan looks at it for literally five seconds and goes, “You doatunt want the windows of the cells to be visible from the mayun land, Cheerlie.”
The old man’s like, “Really? Why not?”
“In case shams steert signaling – wit their car headlights. Sending messages to feddas insoyut. Ine talking about Morse coawut.”
“Good Lord, I never thought of that!”
“That’s basic, Cheerlie. You’d wanth to turden the cell block arowunt a-hunthrit-and-eighthy degreeyuz so’s the winthows face out into the sea. And anutter thing, you habn’t enough geerd towers.”
And I know in that moment that my son is all but lost to me.