Ross O’Carroll- Kelly
‘ The interval between banking scandals is getting shorter, a sure sign that we’re on the cusp of another economic boom’
The old man asks me to swing in to Hennessy’s gaff – which is what I end up doing? It’s actually Hennessy’s daughter who answers the door. I’m there, “Hey, Lauren, how the hell are you? You smell fantastic – and that’s not me being creepy, hopefully.” She’s just like, “Hi,” because she’s never had any time for my horseshit. Little Ross Junior is there – always delighted to see his godfather, of course. He goes, “Hi, Roth! I drethed up ath Moana for Halloween!”
To which there’s no real answer. Except Lauren is one of those mothers who insist on everyone – I think it’s a word – validating her kids? I can actually feel her staring at me, waiting for me to give him a response. So I go, “Yeah, no, that’s, er, great.” Of course, she jumps on it like a seagull on a dropped kebab. She goes, “What does that mean?” I’m there, “Er, I used the word great, Lauren.” “You said it was er great. What’s the er about?” You literally can’t say anything these days without someone taking offence.
I’m like, “Yeah, no, I was trying to remember, which one is Moana again?”
See, Honor hates all those Disney movies? She actually only watches them because she knows they make me cry. She once posted a video on Facebook of me bawling my eyes out during The Lion King, and the thing went viral.
Ross Junior goes, “Moana ith the thaughter of a Polynethian chief who ith chothen by the ocean to reunite a mythtical relic with a goddeth.”
I’m there, “And I repeat – that’s great. By the way, I got you a ticket for Ireland versus Fiji. It’s a present.”
The kid – I swear to fock – just stares blankly at me, then goes, “I thon’t like rugby, Roth.”
I’m there, “That’s why I got you a ticket for the match against Fiji, as opposed to the big one against South Africa.”
Yeah, no, that’d be like giving strawberries to a donkey.
Lauren goes, “Are you deaf? He just told you he has no interest in rugby.”
And I end up going, “Well, maybe he should develop an interest in it, Lauren.” “What does that mean?” “Hey, I’m having to choose my words very carefully here, given the current climate. But I just think an interest in rugby might, I don’t know, toughen him up.”
“Toughen him up? What, in the way that it toughened you up?” “You could say that, yeah.” “Do you think Mufasa is definitely dead, Honor?” “That’s a low blow, Lauren.” “Who’s going to bring up Simba?” “That was around the time of Johnny Sexton’s fourth concussion in a year and I was drinking like a fish.”
“Well, I don’t want my son growing up to be some thick- headed, toxically masculine rugby jock.”
Okay, that’s a possible dig at me, but I decide to just rise above it. I’m there, “The old man rang me. Said he and Hennessy needed to talk to me?” She goes, “They’re in the study.” So that’s where I head. They’re mullered, the two of them. Half- two in the afternoon. Jesus, I hope Johnny Sexton’s okay.
The old man goes, “Ross Kyle Gibson McBride O’Carroll- Kelly! Formerly Ireland’s greatest outhalf – now its greatest estate agent!” I’m a sucker for a compliment. I’m there, “What the fock do you want? Why have you asked me here?”
He goes, “We’ve asked you here, Ross, to tell you that we have, this very lunchtime, finalised a deal to acquire Hook, Lyon and Sinker.” I’m like, “You bought the actual company?” “Audentes fortuna iuvat, as the ancients would have it!” “Does this mean-?” Hennessy goes, “As part of the deal, Barry Conroy has agreed to drop all charges relating to your theft of company files.” I’m there, “Illegibly.” “What?” “I’m saying illegibly – as in nothing was ever proven? Anyway, I’m glad you got me out of the S, H, One, T. I suppose what I’m kind of saying is thanks?” “We didn’t do it for you,” Hennessy goes. “Excuse me?” The old man’s there, “What m’learned sidekick and long- suffering golf partner is trying to say is that Hook, Lyon and Sinker represents for us a tremendous business opportunity. The provision of housing in Dublin is lagging hopelessly behind population growth, which means, for the next five years at least, prices are only going to go one way.”
“Plus,” Hennessy goes, “the interval between banking scandals is getting shorter, a sure sign that we’re on the cusp of another economic boom. And this one is going to be even bigger than the last.”
“And that’s why we need you out there, Kicker, doing what you do best: selling young people into a lifetime of mortgage slavery before it all comes crashing down around our ears again!”
I’m there, “Well, I’m not sure how much actual selling I’m going to be doing. As managing director of the company, I see myself mainly mentoring the younger estate agents we have.”
Hennessy laughs. He goes, “You don’t think we’d pay what we just did for a company, then leave someone with a brain like tiramisu in charge of it, do you?” I’m there, “A brain like tiramisu?” The old man goes, “I think what your godfather is trying to say, Ross, is that your mind is multi- layered-.”
“I’m not,” Hennessy goes, “I’m saying it’s soft and full of custard. And there’s no way in this world I’m going to risk my investment by letting someone like you run it.”
I’m there, “I don’t understand. If I’m not going to be the managing director of Hook, Lyon and Sinker, then who is?”
And suddenly I notice Hennessy looking past me, beyond my left shoulder, smiling proudly to himself. I turn around to see Lauren standing in the doorway.
“Her?” I go, realising that I’m coming across as possibly sexist here. “But she’s a woman!”
And Hennessy goes, “Lauren, why don’t you come in here and tell Ross what kind of ship you’re going to be running?”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE