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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Honor says she’s not getting the Covid vaccine

Sorcha’s family conference to discuss registration for teenagers doesn’t quite go to plan

There are few things in life that terrify me more than the sight of my wife sitting at the table with an A4 pad in front of her. So when I walk into the kitchen and I see her there, with a blank page in front of her, and her blue, black and red pens lined up alongside her ruler, I perform a quick U-turn as if I’ve just walked in on my old pair beating the dust out of the mattress.

“Ross,” she goes, “come back here. We’re having a family conference.”

And that's when I spot Honor sitting opposite her, rolling her eyes, like she's already bored with the whole thing?

“Do you, like, definitely, definitely need me for this?” I go.


She’s like, “Are you a member of this family?”

"Yeah, no, I am?" I go. "But it's just that the last family conference you called was to carry out – what was it again, Honor?"

“A six-month performance review of our New Year’s Resolutions,” Honor goes.

I’m like, “That was it. And being totally honest with you, Babes, it was a bit boring – wasn’t it, Honor?”

Sorcha’s there, “Sit down, Ross, this is important.”

I'm there, "Yeah, no, you said that last time. And on Thanksgiving Day last year, when we had to make a list of all the things that we were, like, grateful for?"

"Ross," she goes, "I said sit down!"

Which is what I end up doing, because it comes with a look that would make Eben Etzebeth think twice.

We're not making you do anything, Honor. I've never been a believer in compulsion. Oh my God, how many years have I been a member of Amnesty International?"

“Okay,” she goes, “registration has storted for 12- to 15-year-olds to receive the Covid vaccination and I thought we might discuss it with you, Honor.”

"What is there to discuss?" Honor goes. "Presumably, you're making me get it?"

Sorcha's like, "We're not making you do anything, Honor. I've never been a believer in compulsion. Oh my God, how many years have I been a member of Amnesty International?"

The answer is not as many as she thinks. Yeah, no, I gave her a present of Lifetime Membership for her 21st birthday but cancelled the standing order about 16 years ago when we were on one of our famous breaks. Probably a bit petty of me, looking back now, but then no one has ever been able to prove the link between exposure to rugby as a teenager and emotional maturity in later life.

"I want you to know," she goes, "that this is a decision for you, Honor. But it's our role – as parents – to ensure you get the best advice possible – and if you hopefully do decide to get vaccinated, to discuss the actual process with you?"

“I’ve decided that I don’t want the vaccine,” Honor goes.

Sorcha's like, "Excuse me?" because she definitely wasn't expecting that.

“I said I don’t want the vaccine,” Honor goes.

I’m there, “Sorcha-”

Except Sorcha cuts me off?

She's like, "You do not speak again, okay?" managing to make a pink, fluffy pen-topper look like a potential murder weapon, then she turns to Honor and, in a softer voice, goes, "You're bound to have concerns, Honor, especially with all the – oh my God – obviously misinformation you're probably being bomborded with on social media. What I thought we might do, though, is write a list of all the pros and cons of immunisation so that whatever decision you do make, it'll be, like, an informed one?"

“I’m not getting the vaccine,” Honor goes.

Sorcha's like, "Just let me list some of the pros first – just so we're absolutely sure that you're making the right decision for you. Okay, to protect yourself obviously – that's the big one. I'll put that down. Then to protect others, especially the older population. You don't want to give it to my mom and dad, do you?"

Honor makes a big point of saying nothing. She’s not a fan.

"Let me rephrase that," Sorcha goes. "You don't want to give it to Ross's mom and dad, do you? Of course you don't. I'll put that down on the list of pros. Don't want Chorles and Fionnuala's death on conscience. Okay, what other pros are there?"

“Mom,” Honor goes, “you’re wasting your time. I’ve read everything. I’ve informed myself. And I’ve made my decision. I’m not getting the vaccine.”

“So tell me your reasons and we’ll decide if they’re worth putting down on the cons side.”

"Because I was raised to think for myself. Because it's my human right to say no? And, like you said, you're big on human rights. One of my middle names is Suu Kyi."

That’s a sore point in this house. Sorcha was a fan of her early stuff.

"So you're actually considering not getting the vaccine," Sorcha goes, "even though you'll pose a risk to wider society by facilitating the emergence of new variants that may be more infectious? Actually, I'll write that point under the pros."

“Yeah,” Honor goes, “you’re wasting your time writing anything. My mind is made up.”

Sorcha just, like, stares at her, then she puts her pen down.

“Okay,” she goes, “if that’s your decision-”

Honor's like, "It is my decision."

There's, like, 10 seconds of uncomfortable silence, then Sorcha goes, "Of course, if you choose not to get vaccinated, there's things you won't be able to do?"

Honor’s like, “Such as?”

“Well, we were going to take the boys to Lapland at Christmas – I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable allowing you to travel abroad if you were going to be potentially spreading the virus.”

“Fine,” Honor goes, “I won’t go.”

“We might also have to take you out of school. We don’t want you being the cause of an outbreak in Mount Anville. We’d be sued by the other moms and dads.”

“I focking hate that school. And anyway, I’m going into business with Ronan.”

“You’d also have to leave home and move into the coach house at the bottom of the gorden. And I’d have to bring you your meals every day on paper plates with plastic cutlery.”

Honor stands up. She’s like, “All of that sounds acceptable to me. Great chat, Mom!” and she walks out of the kitchen.

Sorcha glowers at me and goes, “Yeah, you were a huge help there, Ross.”

And I’m like, “She’s pushing your buttons, Sorcha. She registered for the vaccine this morning.”