Against the Odds: From bookies to the beauty parlour for a blissful Vinny

He’s dubious about parade to commemorate Rising but he still wants to look like shiny pin

In the week of renewal, Vinny Fitzpatrick signed up for his own overdue restoration. There was little he could do to affect the slabs of fat on his midriff, the double chin or droopy moobs, but he could at least trim the edges.

For €49, Vernon Vanity was offering an all-in Easter special for men, consisting of a hot-towel shave, haircut, manicure and pedicure.

“I’ll be like a shiny pin for Sunday’s parade,” he thought as he ambled down for his mid-morning appointment.

It irked Vinny that Ireland Inc was going into overdrive on Easter Sunday for the centenary celebrations of the Rising. For starters, the Rising had taken place on Easter Monday and secondly, the dates were out of sync.


“So what do we do on the actual anniversary of the rebellion, April 24th?” he wondered. “Just let it pass as if nothing happened?”

The movable feast of Easter had long been one of Vinny’s bugbears. Depending on the paschal full moon, Easter could fall on any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.

This year Easter was early, but it wouldn’t be in March again until 2024.

“The Pope should declare Easter to be the second Sunday of April, like the US Masters, and leave well alone. It’s a joke,” he snorted to himself.

He was glad of the civilised tee time, as it allowed him to drop the twins to Easter Camp in St Gabriel's NS, and enjoy a leisurely brekkie in Bunter's Café, where he perused the Racing Post with a knowledgeable air.

Bank balance

Success at Cheltenham had rekindled his zest for the Sport of Kings, shored up his bank balance, and earned huge respect among his fellow punters in Vernon Racing to the extent that The Reverend was now hailing him “Vinny, Vidi, Vici”.

Vinny had recommended Rock On The Moor at 66/1 each-way, and urged the lads to back JP McManus’s fancy in the three amateur races, Minella Rocco, Cause Of Causes and On The Fringe, which all won.

His Thursday treble of Vautour, Thistlecrack and Limini was a popular money-spinner, and he’d advised punters all week to snap up 4/1 on Don Cossack before it was gone.

Vernon Vanity was run by Vanity Goodwin, a jolly character with crinkly grey curls whom Vinny knew from their spin the bottle days in the Sybil Hill youth club.

“Vincenzo,” gushed Vanity as Vinny poked his head around the door, to be greeted by a blast of heat and fragrant scents.

“About time you brightened our doorstep. I’ll be your makeover Mammy today,” said Vanity, clucking over Vinny like a doting hen. “First things first, let’s have a look at those feet. Shoes and socks off, please.”

At that, Vinny paused. “Are you sure you’re okay with this Vanity? I’m rather, er, cloven of hoof.”

The next hour was pure bliss. Vinny’s feet were soaked, dried and then scalped of hardened flesh. His horned toenails were shorn, during which Vanity wore wraparound sunglasses to protect her from flying shrapnel.

After his fingernails were scrubbed and cut to the quick, Vinny opted for the zero haircut option which meant an end to his Bobby Charlton comb-over.

The removal of loose strands revealed a marbled dome, if slightly lumpy, which enhanced his large ears.

After the fuzz on his neck was pared back, Vanity attacked Vinny’s hedgerow eyebrows with vigour, before plucking endless hairs from his ears and nostrils, which caused his eyes to water slightly.

The highlight of the shaving experience was a Rosewood straight-handled blade, complete with sharpening strop, which Vanity deployed like Zorro, as she nicked clear every scintilla of stubble on Vinny’s foldy flesh, without drawing a single pin-prick of blood.

Eat your heart out

“Sweeney Todd, eat your heart out,” grinned Vinny.

When it was over, Vanity used pudgy fingers to massage oils into Vinny’s head and neck, before wrapping a hot towel around him.

“I’m like Kojak,” grinned Vinny as he looked in the mirror as he went to pay his bill. “Who loves ya, baby?” he said, popping a complimentary lollypop on offer into his mouth and reaching for his shades.

With that, Vinny gave Vanity a peck on the cheek and told her to keep the change from €60 – he could afford to tip generously. By his reckoning, he’d cleared over €1,000, and that was on top of his slurping expenses in Foley’s, which were considerable.

The cash would cover the cost of his flight to Seattle and back, for he was returning to America after Easter to bring Angie home.

Angie was on the mend; she was up and about every day, exploring the hip delights of Seattle with Emma, her daughter, who was playing a blinder. The cancer was on the retreat, a bit like the bookies at Cheltenham.

Burst into song

As Vinny’s heart soared at the thought of walking down the Clontarf promenade with his beloved Angie again, he borrowed from Irving Berlin and burst into song.

“In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lassie in the Easter parade.

“I’ll be all in clover and when they look us over, we’ll be the proudest couple in the Easter parade.”

Vinny didn’t sing because he was happy, he was happy because he sang.

Roddy L'Estrange

Roddy L'Estrange

Roddy L'Estrange previously wrote a betting column for The Irish Times