Roddy L’Estrange: Vinny’s black Monday goes from bad to worse
Everton’s struggles leave normally chirpy busman in an unusually foul mood
Players from both sides react to Everton’s Irish defender Seamus Coleman’s late miss against Swansea at Goodison Park. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP /Getty
From the moment his alarm first pinged at 5.50am on Monday, Vinny Fitzpatrick was in a mood most foul.
Was is it the cold shower (he had forgotten to flick the timer on the immersion)? The absence of a clean shirt for work? Or the empty tea caddy?
No. On this mild January dawn it was a matter closer to his sporting heart which gnawed at his innards as he chomped a slice of toast smothered in butter and jam.
Everton were in trouble, a right royal blue horizon load of trouble, and their plight had Vinny rattled.
A run of ten games, which included just one win, and a home loss to Swansea the day before, was responsible for his boys in blue slipping towards the lower half of the Premier League table.
Already, gentle ribbing had kicked off in Foley’s about the threat of relegation, a fate Everton had avoided since their return to the old First Division in 1954 – only Arsenal had a longer unbroken top flight presence.
And for all Vinny’s bravado, he was getting anxious about the R-word.
With 15 games to go, Everton had eight points in hand over the drop zone but should they lose their next league game to Newcastle, the gap could be five.
To lose to one team below you in the table was unnecessary, he thought, to lose to a second would be indeed careless.
A trophyRoberto Martinez
For that to happen, Everton had to first see off moneybags Man City in the League Cup semi-finals.
“Two chances, none and none at all,” he muttered.
Vinny’s blue mood was firmly in place arriving for work, where he spied a gathering in the overflow park opposite the garage.
The crew seemed to be armed with golf clubs, but on closer inspection, were wielding telescopes skywards.
Out of curiosity, Vinny dawdled over for a gander.
“What are yiz all gawking at?” he barked. “This is Dublin Bus property.”
A couple of heads turned to him, like curious cows in a field. One of them cradled his telescope like it was a Winchester rifle and studied Vinny.
“We’re with Clontarf Astronomy and Mr Twomey from the garage gave us permission to be here for an hour this morning.
“It’s the five naked-eye planets. They are in alignment to the East for the first time in 10 years and this is a perfect vantage point,” he said neutrally.
At that, Vinny harrumphed.
“We’ve a show to get on the road here so I suggest you and your famous five planets take a run and jump to Kirrin Island, before I send for Uncle Quentin,” he snapped.
Ignoring mumbles of “Spoilsport” and “Shame on you, sir”, Vinny crossed the forecourt, and checked in for a red-eye shift on the No 130.
After his unbecoming act of intimidation, Vinny’s morning stumbled from one irritation to the next.
First, he was delayed by a puncture, then his Leap card machine went belly-up, while he had to get stroppy with a truculent youth smoking something distinctly stronger than a Silk Cut down the back of the bus.
Worst of all, Vinny insisted that Gladys Dalrymple of the Clontarf Choristers pay her €2.70 fare, after the octogenarian apologised for leaving her bus pass at home.
“Rules is rules,” snapped Vinny as Gladys fumbled for change in her purse.
“I only have two two-euro coins,” she said fretfully.
As he checked out of work at lunchtime and headed home to Mount Prospect Avenue, Vinny was still spoiling for a row.
“If any cat crosses my path, there will be trouble,” he said to himself.
For Vinny to be contrary for so long was out of keeping with his sunny disposition.
“Perhaps I’m getting hormonal,” he thought as he opened the hall door.
“Hi Ange, I’m home. Be with you in a few minutes,” he said, making his way to the kitchen for a brew and a bikkie, only to find the tea bag situation hadn’t changed.
As he stuck his snout in the fridge, he was aware of the need to get a wriggle on for Angie was due in Beaumont Hospital for a third round of chemotherapy at 2.30.
The two previous blasts had left Angie short of hair, breath and energy, and Vinny knew the next few days would be grim for her.
“You never know,” he thought to himself. “Just when all seems hopeless, they might surprise me.”
For the first time that day, Vinny’s dreary disposition lightened. Where there was life, there was always hope, he thought, skipping up the steps.
“Right Ange, let’s be having you, love,” he said pushing open the bedroom door.
The sight that greeted Vinny turned him to stone.
Angie lay half-stretched out of the bed, eyes closed, skin as pale as chalk, lips purple. Her dressing gown was mottled with blood and she was as still as a mouse.
“Good God,” cried Vinny aloud.