Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Stort packing. We have permission to knock the house and build aportments’

Ross and Honor return from a trip to Dundrum Town Centre to find Sorcha frantically packing

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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

So I’m in, like, Dundrum Town Centre with Honor and we’re racing for the lift slash elevator before the doors close. There’s, like, eight or nine people in there and they all do that thing that I always do when I’m in a lift slash elevator and someone is rushing for it. They all pretend they can’t see us, while one of them — some random old dude? — makes a movement like he’s looking for the hold doors button but he does it in, like, slow motion.

The thing ends up closing in my face. But Honor — who, I’m happy say, has inherited her old man’s burst of pace over 10m — manages to get her foot between the doors and they automatically open again. Everyone in the lift looks sheepish and no one will make eye contact with me, even when I go, “Yeah, you’re some pack of dicks, aren’t you?”

But when I turn around, Honor is still standing outside. I’m like, “Er, what are you doing?”

She goes, “Dad, we’ll wait for the next one.”


I’m like, “The next one? What are you talking about?”

“Dad,” she goes, giving me one of her famous looks, “I said we’ll wait for the next one, okay?”

So — yeah, no — I end up stepping out and a woman behind me has the gall to actually tut and then sigh.

I’m like, “What’s going on, Honor?”

And she goes, “Just watch this.”

The doors close — and in the split second before the thing storts moving, she presses the button to call the lift. The doors open again and we find ourselves staring at the same set of faces.

“I’m so sorry,” Honor goes, “we’re waiting for the next one.”

Seven or eight seconds later, the doors close again. And just as they do, she hits the button for the second time. The doors open again.

“Sorry,” she goes, “I keep doing that!”

Of course, I’m suddenly cracking my hole laughing.

The old dude ends up totally losing it with her. He’s there, “Can you at least wait until the lift moves before you press the button?”

Honor’s like, “I will this time, I promise!”

The doors go to close and she does exactly the same thing again. And then again. And then again. Everyone in the lift slash elevator ends up just getting out and using the escalators.

One woman turns around to Honor and goes, “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”

Honor’s like, “Yeah, and your breath stinks.”

When I turn into the driveway, it’s straight away obvious that something is wrong.

I’m still laughing about it an hour later as we’re leaving BTs with seven or eight bags — all hers — swinging from my hands.

I’m there, “I love the way you don’t take shit from people. Honor.”

She goes, “I got that from you.”

And I’m like, “Seriously? That’s a lovely thing for a father to hear, Honor. I’m going to make a note of that in my phone.”

Yeah, no, I have a file in which I’ve written down all the nice things she’s ever said to me. It’s not many, but that makes them even more, I want to say, precious?

“Oh, speaking of not taking shit from people,” she goes while we’re driving home, “I need you go to the school. I’m sort of, like, suspended?”

I’m there, “Okay-dokey. And am I allowed to ask why? Or do I even want to know?”

She looks up from her phone. She’s like, “I told a girl in my class that she was a focking sad sack and that she was going to die alone.”

“What,” I go, “and you got suspended for that? Jesus, talk about the snowflake generation.”

“Well, when I say a girl in my class,” she goes. “It was actually, like, a teacher?”

I’m there, “Er, right.”

“Ms Rochefort. Oh, and I gave her the finger as well.”

“Okay, it’s storting to make more sense now.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m just saying, I can totally see why you got suspended?”

“Are you taking her side?”

“No, not at all. I’m sure you had your reasons for saying what you said.”

“Whatever. You need to go and talk to her before I’m allowed back in the school, though. But wait until Tuesday. I don’t want to have to do homework this weekend.”

“No problemo.”

“And don’t tell mom. The only reason I’m telling you is because you’re the cool parent.”

I’m there, “That’s another one for the file, Honor. It’s going in the second we hit the next red light.”

My happy buzz only lasts as long as it takes me to drive home. When I turn into the driveway, it’s straight away obvious that something is wrong. There’s, like, a removals lorry porked out front and there’s a bunch of dudes carrying boxes out the house.

“What the fock is going on?” Honor goes. “Is she throwing you out again?”

I’m there, “Don’t be silly, Honor,” at the same time wondering did she find out about the text I sent to Fionn’s sister two nights ago with a few drinks on me. We walk into the gaff to find Sorcha in a frantic state. She goes, “Quick, you two — stort packing your things.”

I’m there, “What are you talking about? What’s going on?”

“An Bord Pleanála has rejected the appeal,” she goes. “We have permission to knock down the house and build aportments.”

Honor’s like, “What, and we’re storting today?”

“No, Dorling,” she goes, “but we can’t live here anymore. The neighbours are going to be furious when they find out. Stort packing, will you? Only what you need. There’s a second truck on the way. We’re going to have to put most of our things in storage.”

I’m there, “Where are we even going, Sorcha?” and I straight away know something is up when she looks away like I’ve just asked her to hold the lift. Slash elevator.

She’s there, “How did we manage to accumulate so much stuff?”

Honor’s like, “Mom, where are we going to live?”

Sorcha goes, “Amie with an ie has a house that her grandmother left her. She’s going to rent it to us until we find somewhere permanent.”

I’m like, “Sorcha, where is it?””

She’s there, “It’s close to Honor’s school — that’s the important thing.”

“Mom,” Honor goes, “where is this actual house?”

And Sorcha’s there, “Terenure.”

Honor storts screaming — at the top of her lungs. But no one hears her. Because mine are louder.

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it