Waltzes off with his 18th hilarious social satire
their four children, 11-year-old Honor and toddler triplets Johnny, Leo and Brian. The triplets are in Ross’s own words “thugs” and “so thick they make me look like Edward Einstein”. Ross hopelessly struggles to get the boys to appreciate his one true love. “I’m in the gorden, trying to interest the boys in a rugby ball and I might as well be trying to teach economics to pigeons.”
The triplets are a great addition to the Ross universe and come out with some of the most imaginative swearing ever committed to paper, (as a result I can’t quote it here). I cried laughing almost every time this trio of tiny terrors appeared.
While Ross appears to be mel- lowing with age — he manages to get through the book without killing any pets, or indeed ‘specky focker’ Fionn, who may be the father of Sorcha’s unborn child. While Ross has calmed down, his 19-year-old son from a previous relationship, Ronan, appears to be a ‘chip off the block’ as he’s “riding rings round himself ”.
For this reason, Ross tries to get Ronan to cancel his upcoming wedding. Despite his worries, Ross nonetheless organises Ronan’s stag weekend in Spain and arranges a ‘Big Five’ Safari to spot notorious Dublin gangland figures who have ‘retired’ there. As ever Ross is at sea among Ronan’s Northside pals (appropriate as they think he dresses like a sailor) and laments Northsiders drinking his beloved ‘Ken’. “It’s wasted on them. It’s like feeding sourdough to the ducks.”
Charles O’carroll Kelly, Ross’s father, has evolved from a crooked businessman to the leader of a populist political party (sound familiar?), while mother Fionnuala spends an inordinate amount of time in Russia. Sorcha becomes woke and throws herself into radical feminism, (prompted by hearing Mna is an anagram of ‘man’). Sorcha displays her wokeness and Radfem cred by randomly putting ‘man’ in front of words (‘mandescending’, ‘manthematics’ and ‘manabler’) in the manner of ‘mansplaining’. Daughter Honor has set her sights on the ‘Goatstown Glitterball’, the award for a ‘ Strictly’- style competition at her school Mount Anville, or ‘Westeros’ as Ross calls it. Ross himself may not be ‘Edward Einstein’ but Paul Howard is a genius. Not only has he created a character, in Ross, who is monstrous and despicable, but he’s given him enough humanity for the reader to root for him. Doing this once was a neat trick. Doing it 18 times is extraordinary. Future historians will probably use these books as a primer on Ireland, especially the rise, fall and rise of the Celtic Tiger. If they can stop laughing long enough.