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‘We’re fine up here, Ross. I just can’t imagine this thing coming to Foxrock’

Ross O’Carroll Kelly: Phoning ‘Mom’ is a sure sign Covid-19 crisis brings out the best in people

I ring the old dear. No idea why. They’re saying this Covid-19 thing is bringing out the best in people and it’s a side of myself that I don’t actually recognise.

I’m there, “I’m just ringing to find out if you’re okay.”

As it turns out, she doesn’t recognise it either.

Ross O’Carroll Kelly: Phoning ‘Mom’ is a sure sign Covid-19 crisis brings out the best in people


She's like, "Who is this?"

I’m there, “It’s Ross.”

“Ross who?”

"Er, your son Ross?"

“Why are you speaking that way?”

“What do you mean?”

'Usually, when you phone, you say something awful about my drinking, or my writing, or the work I've had done on my face, even though I've never had any work done on my face."

“I don’t know. They’re saying we all have to look out for each other now.”

“Who said that?”

"That Varadkar dude. He was on TV. So I'm just ringing to find out – yeah, no – how you're coping and blah, blah, blah? And to wish you a belated Happy Mother's Day for, I don't know, whenever that whole thing was."

I swear to God, she goes, “How do I know it’s you?”

I end up suddenly losing it with her. I’m there, “Look, can we stort this conversation again?”

And she’s like, “Yes, I think it would be best all round if we did.”

So we both hang up, then I ring her back. She lets the phone ring seven or eight times, then she answers it by going, “Hello?”

I’m like, “Took your focking time answering, didn’t you? What are you up to, you gin-crazed, blubber-filled phoney – writing more of your dirty books for sexually frustrated, old bints like yourself?”

She goes, “Hello, Dorling!”

“Was that better?”

“Much better! I didn’t like whoever you were trying to be just then. You sounded smarmy and insincere.”

'Ross,' she goes, 'I'll have you know, I'm a  long way away from 70'

“Well, normal service has been resumed – you rubber-faced, permanently pissed, peddler of porn.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

"So how actually are you?"

“Oh, we’re all fine up here, Ross. As I said to Delma on the phone, I just can’t imagine this thing coming to Foxrock.”

“Yeah, it’s not public transport, Mom. Or a drive-thru Krispy Kreme. It’s a global pandemic – and you’re not going to stop it by writing to the council and saying we don’t consider such things appropriate for an area like this.”

“You just called me Mom.”


She sort of, like, chuckles to herself.

She goes, “I don’t think I’ve heard you call me Mom since you were a little boy.”

I’m there, “Do you want me to hang up and stort again?”

“No, I rather liked it. It’s not often I think of myself as a Mom. Poor Delma’s in an awful state, by the way.”

“What’s wrong with Delma?”

"Oh, some HSE person phoned and told her that she'd been in contact with somebody who has this thing and that she wasn't to leave the house under any circumstances."

“What’s wrong with that? That’s good advice.”

"What's wrong with it is that this HSE person simply refused to tell her who this somebody was."

“Why does it matter who it was?”

“I said to Delma, I bet it was Ginny McIlwaine. Lives next door to her. You know, she once accused me of filling in an incorrect scorecord – the year I won the Lady Captain’s Prize in Foxrock!”

“Yeah, it’s not a witch-hunt, you know?”

"The reason my ball ended up in that divot was because she focking stood on it. I said to Delma, 'Let's be honest, none of us would be the least bit surprised if it turned out to be her.'"

Did you ever regret phoning someone?

I’m there, “Delma should be staying in anyway. And so should you, by the way.”

She goes, ‘Me? But I don’t have this thing. If I saw Ginny coming, I’d cross the road, pandemic or no pandemic.”

“I’m saying you should be staying in because of your age.”

“My age? What’s wrong with my age?”

“There’s nothing wrong with it. They’re just saying that all people over the age of 70 should stay home.”

There’s, like, five seconds of silence on the other end of the phone.

"Ross," she goes, "I'll have you know, I'm a long way away from 70."

I’m there, “I know you are – you’re three years past it. I was at your porty, remember?”

“That was my 60th.”

“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, Benjamin Button. But don’t go out again, Mom.”

“Mom! There it is again!”

“I mean it, okay?”

“When is this ghastly business going to be over, Ross?”

“Nobody knows.”

"You know I haven't had the house cleaned in two weeks? Stefania says she's social distancing. That's a quote."

“Jesus, would it kill you to hoover your own gaff for once?”

"I don't know how it all works, Ross."

“You don’t know how to use a hoover?”

“I know you push it about the place. It’s just that I’ve tried pressing the on button and nothing seems to be happening.”

“Have you got it plugged in?”

"Does it have to be plugged in?"

“Of course it has to be plugged in! What do you think it runs off? The evil in your soul?”

She laughs at that line, in fairness to her. I think I’ve given her a genuine lift by ringing her. I’m not going to make a habit of it, but I definitely won’t leave it two weeks next time.

“Anyway,” I go, “I’ve got shit to do. Honor’s home-schooling me. I’m thinking of having another crack at the Leaving Cert, by the way.”

She goes, “How interesting!” but I know if I asked her to repeat what I just said, she wouldn’t be able to. She has one of those minds that automatically sifts out anything that doesn’t directly affect her.

I’m there, “Do you want me to tell Dad you were asking for him?”

She’s just like, “No, it’s fine.”

“Okay,” I go, “I’ll hopefully talk to you again soon. Look after yourself, okay? I worry about you.”

She’s like, “Please, Ross – let’s not leave things like that.”

“Okay,” I go. “Look after yourself. I worry about you – you talentless, vodka-soaked, whale sperm-infused excuse for a mother.”

And she’s like, “Thank you, Dorling!”