‘There’s a girl who works in the Bailey. And before you say anything, me and you were on a break at the time’
Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: What would Johnny Sexton do when confronted with plotting a way through Dublin’s no-go areas?
‘The last time we were in there, the triplets smashed an eight-foot-high Chewbacca into about a million pieces and I left without paying for the damage.’
Sorcha has decided she needs an entire new work wardrobe, so into town we go. I throw the cor into the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre cor pork, then down the escalators we come: me at the front, holding the triplets on their lead, while they bork and snorl like feral dogs; Sorcha two steps behind me, apologising to the other shoppers for our children’s language; then Honor, seven or eight steps further back, texting on her phone.
When we reach the ground floor, I stort heading in the direction of the main entrance, but Sorcha wants to go out the back door. I’m like, “Er, that makes no sense. We’re going to BTs. It’s through the front door and straight down Grafton Street.”
She goes, “I don’t want to walk past Benetton, Ross.”
“There’s a girl who works in there who I was in UCD with and whenever I meet her it’s just, like, weird.”
“Weird in what way?”
“Yeah, no, we’re really, really good friends on Facebook – as in, she always gives me Likes for photos I put up, and vice-versa – but whenever we actually meet, we never know what to say to each other. It’s, like, so awkward.”
“What,” I go, “so you’re going to spend the rest of your life never walking past Benetton in case she sees you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Ross. I check her LinkedIn page every two or three days to see has she moved jobs yet.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“Three-and-a-half years. Ross, can we just go out the back door without you making a major deal out of it?”
I tell her fine – whatever. Then out the back door we go on to South King Street.
“I don’t know why you’re pulling that face,” Sorcha goes, as the boys drag me – swearing like dockworkers – towards the top of Grafton Street. “The walk is exactly the same length whether we go through the shopping centre or not?”
And that’s when I suddenly stop walking.
“I’ve just remembered,” I go, “we can’t walk past the Disney Store.”
Sorcha’s like, “Why not?”
“Er, because the last time we were in there, the triplets smashed an eight-foot-high Chewbacca into about a million pieces and I left without paying for the damage.”
Listen to Ross
“You did what?”
“Hey, my old man says that rich people not paying for the things they broke is the rock on which the Celtic Phoenix was built.”
“What, so you can never walk down Grafton Street again?”
“Of course I can. I just have to avoid that little section of it.”
I whip out my phone and I call up Google maps. We stand in the doorway of Zara and we stort plotting a route to BTs that bypasses the top of Grafton Street.
“I’ve got it,” I go. “We can head straight down South William Street as far as Wicklow Street and come at BTs from the other direction.”
If my regular hairdresser sees me, she’ll notice that I have no root growth and she’ll know I went somewhere else
But, straight away, Sorcha sees a problem. She goes, “I can’t walk that far down South William Street. I don’t want to pass Brown Sugar.”
I’m like, “The reason being?”
“Because I went somewhere else to get my hair done this month. I didn’t have time to come into town. And if my regular hairdresser sees me, she’ll notice that I have no root growth and she’ll know I went somewhere else?”
“Okay,” I go, looking at the map again – and it suddenly brings me back to my rugby days when I used to have to think strategically to find a way through opposition defences.
I’m tempted to say, once a 10, always a 10!
“Okay,” I go, “we can take Clarendon Street, then cut down Chatham Street.”
Honor decides to pipe up then. “I can’t walk down Chatham Street,” she goes. “They’ve been holding a necklace for me in Loulerie since June and they keep ringing me every week to check that I definitely still want it.”
“Okay,” I go, “why don’t we take Chatham Row on to Clarendon Street, then cut through the Westbury Mall.”
“I want to avoid the whole Westbury Mall area,” Sorcha goes. “I tried to return a pair of burgundy gloves to Paula Rowan about six months ago because they turned out to be a different shade of burgundy to my burgundy coat. But they refused to take them because they could tell I’d worn them a few times. Ross, I’d be too embarrassed to see them again.”
I’m thinking, okay, what would Johnny Sexton do? He’d find a way through in, like, five seconds.
I’m there, “Why don’t we take Drury Street, as far as Castlemorket Street, then hit Coppinger Row.”
Sorcha goes, “We can’t go near Coppinger Row because Honor was mean to that girl who did her Vinylux nails in Fifth Avenue. She made her cry, Ross.”
“Then we’ll take Drury Street all the way to Wicklow Street-.”
“We can’t take Wicklow Street. Have you forgotten the incident with the boys in Murphy’s Ice Cream?”
“We could avoid Murphy’s by turning on to Andrew Street, then taking Suffolk Street.”
“I can’t go near Suffolk Street. I ordered a picnic hamper from Avoca during the summer and I never paid for it or collected it. Okay, can I suggest a route?”
“Hey,” I go, “I was the one who played outhalf, but go on.”
She’s there, “It’s kind of a long way around, but we could take Stephen Street as far as George’s Street, then walk to the bottom of George’s, turn right onto Dame Street, then go through College Green and right onto Grafton Street. Oh, hang on, I can’t pass Weir’s.”
“I was asked to leave because the boys were spitting on the display glass. Okay, instead of coming at Grafton Street from that end, we’ll keep going along Nassau Street, then turn right onto Dawson Street, then turn right again onto Duke Street-.”
“I can’t go near Duke Street,” I go. “There’s a girl who works in the Bailey. And before you say anything, Sorcha, me and you were on a break at the time.”
Honor looks up from her phone then. “I’ve got the perfect solution,” she goes.
I’m like, “Let’s hear it, Honor.”
She’s there, “Let’s all just go home.”
Me and Sorcha exchange a look. And in that moment, we both know that it’s the best plan anyone is going to come up with today.