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Honor is like, ‘There’s no chocolate Kimberleys left,’ and that’s when I end up suddenly losing my sh*t

It’s three days before the big day and Cornelscourt is like the Battle of the Bastards scene from Game of Thrones

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It’s three days before the big day and Cornelscourt is like the Battle of the Bastards scene from Game of Thrones

So it’s, like, three days before the big day and Dunnes Stores is like the Battle of the Bastards scene from Game of Thrones, except that Winterfell’s bastards are only in the halfpenny place compared to the ones you meet doing the big shop in Cornelscourt in Christmas week.

I’m there, “If one more person hits me in the ankle with their focking trolley–”

And Honor goes, “Er, this is what it’s always like? What, did you think we were going to have the place to ourselves?”

I’m like, “No, but I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”


If I’d had all the information, I never would have volunteered to do the big Christmas shop. But this is where we are. There are no sprouts left. And even though no one in the house even eats them – they’re fried in butter with chestnuts, pancetta and porsley, then swept straight into the bin – Sorcha finds the idea of having them at Christmastime somehow, I don’t know, reassuring?

“There’s no potatoes either,” Honor goes.

I’m like, “What? You have got to be shitting me.”

She’s there, “I’m not shitting you. They’ve run out of potatoes. They said to try back in a few hours.”

I’m like, “We won’t be still here in a few hours.”

And she goes, “Yeah, sure, Dad – that’s what everyone says!”

I’m there, “Okay, we need to get our strategy together,” suddenly talking like Ronan O’Gara. “Forget the trimmings. Let’s stort with the basics. We’re going to need a turkey.”

So we point the trolley in the direction of the butcher’s counter, forcing our way through the angry throng, listening to people snapping at each other, going, “Fock me? No, fock you – how’s about that?” and those are just the married couples.

“I’m looking for a turkey,” I tell the dude behind the counter.

He’s like, “What’s your name?” which is a question I’m obviously not used to hearing in this rugby-mad port of the world?

I’m there, “Why do you need my name to sell me a turkey?”

“Well,” he goes, “I presume you pre-ordered one,” and I notice that he has a little book open in front of him.

I’m there, “Pre-ordered one? Is that, like, a thing?”

Honor goes, “Oh my God, you were told to do that two weeks ago! Mom is going to kill you!”

I’m there, “I thought you could just rock up.”

The dude actually laughs at me. He’s there, “It’s three days before Christmas.”

And I’m like, “I know it’s three days before Christmas. I’ve got the focking bruises on my shins to prove it.”

He goes, “Your best bet at this late stage would be a frozen one.”

Honor’s like, “Mom hates a frozen turkey! Oh my God, Dad, you’ve ruined Christmas!”

I decide to chance my orm then.

I’m there, “Actually, I’ve just remembered, I did pre-order one?” because – yeah, no – that’s how suddenly desperate I am. “If you just show me the book there, I’ll point out my name.”

He sees straight it, though, because he’s like, “Next!”

I’m there, “Fine – tell me I haven’t left it too late to get a ham and a spiced beef, though?”

He’s like, “Next customer, please!”

We end up having to step away from the counter and, understandably, I’m like, “Fock!”

Honor goes, “Oh my God, we’ve got, like, 16 people coming for Christmas dinner!”

I’m there, “I’m well aware of that, Honor,” because – yeah, no – it includes Sorcha’s old pair, who hate my guts anyway.

I’m there, “Let’s at least get a tin of chocolate Kimberleys – it might help soften the blow,” and we head for the biscuit aisle, passing two dudes who are squaring up to each other, going, “I’m a wanker? Take a look in the mirror, mate!”

Honor, who gets there ahead of me, breaks the bad news. She’s like, “There’s no chocolate Kimberleys left,” and that’s when I end up suddenly losing my shit.

I literally scream, “I can’t do this! I can’t do it!” and I abandon the trolley, there in the middle of the biscuit aisle.

Honor chases after me, through the crowds of people, going, “Dad! Dad!”

She catches up with me outside Café Sol, spins me around and goes, “Dad, this isn’t you! You’re not a quitter!” which is a lovely thing for me to hear, even though it’s complete horse shit.

And that’s when I suddenly spot it – a trolley full of shopping that’s been left outside the phormacy, presumably by someone who’s inside collecting a prescription. I tip over to it.

Honor’s like, “Oh my God, what are you doing?”

I’m there, “Holy fock, Honor, look at this! She’s got a turkey! She’s got a ham! Pigs in blankets, look! Mince pies! And, what’s that, a goose? A focking goose!”

Honor goes, “Dad–”

I’m like, “Danish butter cookies! I used to love those! Ferrero focking Rocher! Er, chocolate Kimberleys, anyone? She must have grabbed the last box!” and then I laugh. “Look down the bottom, Honor! Potatoes – and sprouts!”

You can probably guess what happens next. I grab the handle of the trolley with my two hands and I stort pushing it towards the cor pork.

Honor is suddenly behind me, going, “Oh my God, Dad, have you lost your actual mind?”

I’m there, “Of course I have! I’ve got focking battle fatigue!” as I push the thing on to the moving walkway. “And these, Honor, are the spoils of war!”

She stands in front of me and she goes, “Dad, you know you’re just about to ruin someone’s Christmas.”

I’m like, “Better theirs than mine!”

But then I make the mistake of making eye contact with her. She goes, “Dad, you’re literally stealing someone else’s happiness. And while I would usually be 100 per cent here for that – come on, it’s Christmas.”

We reach the top of the moving walkway and I know that the game is up here.

I’m like, “What are we going to do, Honor?”

She goes, “We’ll think of something. But I’m going to put the trolley back, okay? I’ll say we mistook it for ours.”

She turns the thing around – she’s a great kid underneath it all – and she’s just about to push it on to the downward walkway.

I’m there, “Honor?”

She’s like, “What is it, Dad?”

I’m there, “Can we at least keep the chocolate Kimberleys?”

And she just smiles and goes, “We’ll keep the chocolate Kimberleys.”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it