RODDY DOYLE

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Column -

Years ago — it must be more than 10 years ago, although I find it’s get­ting harder to mea­sure my life in years — we were all in front of the telly when the wife com­man­deered the re­mote con­trol. She took it while I was up in the jacks. I blame my­self; I should have taken itwith me and that’s what I’ve been do­ing ever since. But any­way, there was me and the wife, all the kids and part­ners and the grand­chil­dren, and some of the dogs; there were four or five grand­kids back then. We were all happy enough, slag­ging the ads, when the wife changed channels and Julie An­drews was sud­denly there, climb­ing every f***in’ moun­tain.

All the males in the room stood up and walked out, in­clud­ing a baby who climbed out of his Moses bas­ket, and three of the dogs — and my el­dest grand­daugh­ter.

I felt a hand grab mine. I looked down and there she was, march­ing out in protest with the lads.

— You don’t like ‘The Sound of Mu­sic’, love?

She shook her head and frowned, and smiled. She’s still the only fe­male I know who hates The Sound of Mu­sic. It’s one of the many things I ad­mire about her.

These days she’s a Goth and her hair’s dyed a colour I don’t have a name for. I’m not sure what a Goth is, ex­actly, but I know it an­noys her par­ents, my son and his wife, and this gives me and the wife a cer­tain amount of se­cret plea­sure. — Re­venge, the wife whis­pers, when­ever the kid comes into the house.

Any­way, I’m mad about her; I al­ways have been. She sits and chats with me but her par­ents can’t get a word out of her, not even a cross one. More guilty plea­sure for me and the wife. We talk about mu­sic.

— What about Black Sab­bath? I ask her. — Do you like them?

She shakes her head. The ges­ture, the move­ment, is so pre­cise — it’s like an ex­e­cu­tioner’s axe.

— They’re too sen­ti­men­tal, like, she says. I think I re­mem­ber read­ing that the singer from Black Sab­bath, Ozzie Os­bourne, once bit the head off a live bat, on­stage. But, as far as my grand­daugh­ter is con­cerned, he’s only an oul’ softie. It’s bril­liant.

So, any­way, we’re play­ing this game where you re­place the word ‘love’ in a song with ‘hate’ — “How deep is your hate”, “My hate keeps lift­ing me, keeps on lift­ing me” — when she asks me if I’d like to go to the pic­tures with her.

This is his­tor­i­cal. Her par­ents are in the kitchen, lis­ten­ing to every word, and I can hear her fa­ther catch­ing her mother just after she faints.

— I’d like that, I say. — What film?

— ‘Over­lord’, she says.

— What’s that one about?

— Zom­bies and Nazis.

And I sing: “These are a few of my fave-or-it things.”

I can see she al­ready re­grets invit­ing me to go with her. But I just add “not” to the end of the line — “my fave-or-it things… not” — and that seems to re­as­sure her. So, off we go. In on the bus, to Cineworld.

— It’s 4DX, she tells me on our way up the es­ca­la­tor.

— What’s that? I ask her.

— Not sure, she says. — Like 3D, like.

— Grand, I say. — I can cope with that.

The film’s just start­ing when we get to our seats. The seats are huge, like fancy bar­ber’s chairs, and I’m only sit­ting down — I haven’t seen any­thing yet — when the seats start to shake.

— Oh, Ja­y­sis!

The grand­daugh­ter is laugh­ing. I cling on.

— What’s the story?!

There’s a planeload of Marines, about to jump out with their parachutes, be­hind en­emy lines. It’s like that old one, Where Ea­gles Dare, but with­out Richard Bur­ton or Clint East­wood. Or Mary Ure. The plane’s just been hit by a Ger­man shell. That’s why our seats are shak­ing — if that makes sense. Then they open the door and we’re hit by a spray of cold wa­ter.

— Ah, Ja­y­sis!

The film is drivel but the crack is bril­liant. The Marines are sneak­ing through a for­est — and we smell per­fume. — It’s like Arnotts, like, says the grand­daugh­ter.

Then the shak­ing starts again and it doesn’t re­ally stop ’til the end of the film. I have to go out to the jacks and vomit. But I’m keen to get back.

— Did any­one die while I was gone?

— Most of them, she says.

— Grand.

The Nazis have been de­sign­ing zom­bie troops. “The Thou­sand Year Re­ich needs thou­sand-year sol­diers.” It’s the only de­cent line in the film. But the vi­o­lence is mar­vel­lous. I haven’t seen this much blood since the 1970 FA Cup Fi­nal.

We’re ex­hausted when it’s over.

Well, I am.

— I need a lie-down after all that, I tell her.

— Will we watch it again, Grand­dad?

— Ah, yeah.

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