‘You had three beautiful children, Sorcha. Plus Honor’
Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: The Mount Anville past pupils breakfast is like LinkedIn with egg-white omelettes
I’m collecting Sorcha from Sophie’s at the Dean – the venue for the latest Mount Anville Past Pupils Association Networking Breakfast. Sorcha loves these get-togethers. They’re an opportunity to find out how well everyone else is doing compared to you.
It’s kind of like LinkedIn, except with egg white omelettes and insincerity on a truly epic scale.
So I’m sitting in the cor on Horcourt Street, waiting to give her a lift home, watching all these beautifully suntanned women with seriously impressive orthodontics pour out of the hotel and onto the street. I recognise a few faces from my distant past. And one or two from my not-too-distant past, who I’m hoping Sorcha didn’t network with this morning?
I watch one girl say goodbye to her, hugging her like she’s about to step onto the last lifeboat off the Titanic – and I think to myself how much I love women and how I couldn’t be a sexist if you paid me.
I used to always make this point to my old man when he and his mates were trying to stop women becoming members of the dull-as-shit world of Portmornock Golf Club. I used to say, women are like flowers – having them about the place makes every room about five hundred times more interesting, not to mention colourful.
Although, like flowers, I do think they should be changed every week to ten days – but that’s a debate for another day.
For Sorcha, the upshot of these breakfasts is a week or two of what I would call lifestyle envy? She’ll tell me, for instance, that Emmaleigh Landers got Invisalign, top and bottom, and suddenly that’s what Sorcha wants, too. Or Glumdalclitch O’Hanlon will show her photographs of the place her old man bought in Martinique with his Nama money, and suddenly we’re booking flights ourselves.
But this time, it ends up being different. From the second she throws open the door of the cor, I can tell that she’s in a bad mood. At first, I put it down to one or two Aperol spritzes too many.
“If you’re going to be sick,” I go, “let me know and I’ll pull over,” because I’ve just had the A10 valeted and it smells of furniture polish and inherited wealth.
She’s like, “Just drive!”
Which is what I end up doing – in silence, because it’s obvious that she’s in no mood to talk, until we’re passing the Radisson Blu in Booterstown and she goes, “It’s amazing the things you find out when you meet up with your old school friends.”
I’m there, “If it was something Melanie Mason said, Sorcha, you and me were on a break at the time.”
“It has nothing to do with Melanie Mason.”
“Thank God. What’s wrong then? I’m presuming you stopped drinking too early and the hangover’s kicking in.”
“Can you believe it’s, like, twenty-one years this year since I sat the Leaving Cert?”
And not a day has gone by when she hasn’t found some opportunity to remind me of her results.
Listen to Ross
I’m like, “Twenty-one years? Yeah, no, that time has definitely flown.”
She goes, “Adelle Hackett-Noone brought a copy of our Graduation Yearbook with her today. We all had to write down what we thought we’d be doing by the age of forty. Do you know what I put, Ross? I said I’d be Ireland’s first woman taoiseach.”
“That was the ambition I had in those days.”
“On the upside, Sorcha, you’ve still got another eighteen months to go. You always hear people say that a week is a long time in politics. Imagine what you could achieve in a year-and-a-half. I’m just giving you a bit of a pep talk here, Babes.”
“I’m going to say fair focks.”
“Do you know what Catalina Urena-Burke is doing? She’s the Spanish ambassador to somewhere or other.”
“Again, fair focks is the only answer.”
“And what have I done?”
“You married me.”
There was a time when that would have meant something in a room full of Mount Anville girls. But Sorcha just looks at me like I’m the last sausage on the breakfast buffet table.
I wasn’t just waiting for Warren Gatland to ring. I was also waiting for Eddie O’Sullivan to ring and, later on, Declan Kidney
She goes, “I can’t believe I actually believed I’d be the taoiseach.”
I’m there, “You went down a different route, Sorcha. That clothes shop you had in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre was massive. And you had a family. Three beautiful children. Plus Honor, who has the odd good day. And I don’t want to get all Wind Beneath My Wings on you here, but you also supported my career?”
“Er, my rugby career?”
“You never had a rugby career. You spent twenty years sitting around, waiting for Warren Gatland to ring.”
“I wasn’t just waiting for Warren Gatland to ring. I was also waiting for Eddie O’Sullivan to ring and, later on, Declan Kidney. ”
“Do you know what day next Thursday is?”
“Of course I do. It’s International Ladies’ Day.”
“International Women’s Day.”
Okay, a little life hack here for the men here. Sorcha always treats International – like she said – Women’s Day as a sort of second birthday. Which is why, for the two weeks leading up to it, I set a daily alorm in my phone – just to remind me to have flowers delivered.
I’m a catch. That shouldn’t be forgotten.
She goes, “My life is passing me by, Ross. This morning was just another reminder of that.”
I’m there, “That Aporel is way too easy to drink, Sorcha – it’s easy to forget that it’s eleven per cent.”
“I’m not drunk, Ross. I’ve decided I want a career again.”
“Are you talking about another clothes shop?”
“I’m talking about doing something amazing to change the world. The promise I made in the Graduation Yearbook might not have come true. But I’m making a new promise right now. I will be the taoiseach by the age of fifty.”
And from the way she says it, it doesn’t sound like something she’s going to sleep off.