Subscriber OnlyPeople

‘We can’t just dump our rubbish in the gorden. It’s the Vico Road – there’ll be meetings’

Ross O’Carroll Kelly: ‘Every single room in this house is haunted by the guilt of my failure’

Sorcha sighs for the seventh time in about the same number of minutes and I know I’m not going to get any sleep tonight until I ask her what’s wrong.

I’m like, “What’s wrong?”

And she's there, "Nothing," but she doesn't say it in a way that's meant to shut down the conversation. It's more like, "Nothing?" with a question mork on the end, encouraging me to, like, probe further.

I check the time. It’s, like, four o’clock in the morning. I end up sighing myself.


“No, really,” I go, “what’s up, Sorcha?”

She's there, "I've been awake all night, thinking about how it's going to be a year soon since, like, the first lockdown?"

“I’ll have to take your word for that. I’ve even stopped giving names to the days of the week.”

“It was Morch last year, Ross. And I’m lying here thinking about – oh my God – the actual enthusiasm we all had at the stort of Lockdown I.”

“In terms of?”

“In terms of all the things we were going to, like, do. How we were going to use it to take a sabbatical from our old lives – and to emerge from it as the very best version of ourselves.”

"Er, I think you were the one with the big plans, Sorcha."

"I was just looking at the list I made in my phone. It was on the 29th of Morch last year and it's like, Oh! My God! Like, listen to this, Ross. I was going to learn a new language. I was going to learn a new instrument. I was going to do an online course in cake ort. I was going to read all the classics. I was going to develop actual abs. I was going to watch all those David Attenborough boxsets that I bought when Blu-ray was going to be the big thing."

"I'm pretty sure they're all on Netflix now."

"The point I'm making, Ross, is that we were going to use this pandemic as an opportunity to finally become the people we've always, like, wanted to be? But we didn't. It's typical of this house – there's no such thing as follow-through."

A joke occurs to me, which would probably be classed as toilet humour, so I don't say it, which suggests that at least someone in this house has become the very best version of themselves.

“Oh my God,” she goes, “you’re thinking of a joke about follow-through, aren’t you?”

I’m there, “No, I’m not. I swear on my old dear’s life.”

But she throws back the duvet, going, “I have to get up! I can’t just lie here!” and she disappears out of the room.

I give her, like, 15 minutes to calm down and come back to bed. When that doesn’t happen, I decide to go looking for her, because that’s just me – relationship material.

I find her downstairs in the hallway, slow-waltzing a double bass in the direction of the front door. She’s there, “I can’t believe I actually thought I was going to learn how to play this.”

I’m there, “Er, where are you going with it?”

“Open the front door!”

“But what are going to do with it? And bear in mind I haven’t even paid for it yet. It’s still on my credit cord.”

She roars at me this time. “Ross,” she goes, “I said open the focking door!”

So I do as I’m told, then she quite literally throws the thing out onto the front lawn.

Then she goes, “Every single room in this house is haunted by the guilt of my failure. Every corner has a reminder of something I was going to do to improve myself but didn’t,” and I know straight away that her next stop is the potter’s wheel in the utility room.

'I'm going to order a skip first thing in the morning. And it's all going into it. Our Dryrobes. My easel. Our badminton racquets...'

It turns out I’m right. She grabs it roughly and storts dragging it towards the door.

She's like, "Don't just stand there with your mouth open. Pick up that candle-making set," which was something she bought when she talking about turning the orangerie into a – and this is a direct quote – meditation space?

I follow her up the hallway, going, "We can't just dump all our rubbish in the front gorden, Sorcha. It's the Vico Road – there'll be meetings."

Jesus, they nicknamed us Shameless after we bought a trampoline.

She’s there, “I’m going to order a skip first thing in the morning. And it’s all going into it. Our Dryrobes. My easel. Our badminton racquets – oh my God, do you remember I said I was going to try and become good at, like, badminton again? Well, that went the same way as the sea-swimming, didn’t it?”

“Sorcha,” I try to go, “this latest lockdown is the hordest yet – everyone’s saying it.”

'Don't even think about giving some bullshit spiel about how we all survived a year of this thing, like that's somehow an achievement in itself?'

She’s like, “If you’re going to insist on following me around while I do this, at least make yourself useful. Go out to the shed and bring in the Jurassic Pork-themed treehouse that you bought for the boys last summer and never bothered your orse assembling.”

She disappears into the pantry then and reappears a few seconds later holding the Do It Yourself sushi-making kit that she bought online after seeing Selena Gomez make her own dragon rolls on Instagram.

"It was only opened once," she goes. "Which is more than I can say for all the Brontës I promised to re-read, along with all the Chorles Dickens books and the Tolstoy novels that aren't Anna Karenina?"

"Sorcha," I go, following her up the hallway again, "you say you've done nothing–"

But she's like, "Don't even think about giving some bullshit spiel about how we all survived a year of this thing, like that's somehow an achievement in itself? Don't you dare tell me that we kept our marriage together and that we parented our children, as if that's supposed to–"

It’s at that exact moment that we both hear a tiny, tearful voice coming from the top of the stairs, going, “Mommy, I had a nightmare!”

Sorcha drops that Do It Yourself sushi-making kit and she’s already halfway up the stairs before it hits the floor in an explosion of rice paddles and chopsticks and rolling mats. I hear her going, “Oh, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny!” over and over again – like I did in my sleep for about a year after Himself scored that drop goal in Paris.

Then I tip outside and I stort bringing all of our shit back in again.