Subscriber OnlyRoss O'Carroll-Kelly

‘I’ve never even cleaned up my own children’s vomit, I’m not mopping up after some randomer’

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

Sorcha hands me a mop and a bucket

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I’m not cleaning that up and I make sure she knows it as well.

I’m like, “I am not cleaning that up,” – that being a humungous puddle of vomit outside the men’s toilets in the Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre. It’s, like, the worst vomit I’ve ever seen as well, whatever the child was eating – although ice-cream, cake and popcorn definitely figure in the mix.

Sorcha hands me a mop and a bucket.

I’m there, “Sorcha, I’ve never even cleaned up my own children’s vomit?” which isn’t down to me being a sexist, by the way. I just have a famously weak stomach. “I’m not mopping up after some randomer. Jesus, the kid didn’t even chew half this popcorn.”


Sorcha goes, “Ross, you are cleaning up that vomit. We have to make this look realistic – just so Bunny Dowdall doesn’t suspect that we know something?”

Yeah, no, we’re doing the usual volunteering at the annual Killiney and Dalkey Combined Christmas fete and this year we’ve been put on toilet-cleaning duties as a punishment for Honor slashing the tyres of hundreds of cors in the areas – illegibly, of course, because nothing has been proven yet.

I’m there, “Why can’t we just tell Bunny to shove her Christmas fete up her–?”

“Because, firstly,” Sorcha goes, “my mom was the one who set up this fete in the first place and I’m not being driven away by Bunny focking Dowdall. And, secondly, if it’s true that she really does fix the raffle every year, I’m going to catch her in the act.”

A voice behind me suddenly goes, “Can you clean that sick up please? It’s been sitting there for an hour.”

I turn around and – yeah, no – it’s Bunny herself, swanning around like she owns the place, a clipboard under her orm and giant sunglasses on her head like a welder taking a breather.

I’m there, “You clean it up if it’s bothering you so much.”

But Sorcha goes, “He’s about to do it, Bunny.”

Bunny’s there, “It’s just that if somebody slips in it, we could have a claim for compensation on our hands. This is Dalkey.”

“Absolutely,” Sorcha goes. “Ross, get cleaning,” and I have no choice but to do what I’m told.

Bunny goes, “I’m surprised that you two showed your faces at all – especially after I took the present-wrapping from you, Sorcha, and gave it to Suzannah Jennings.”

Sorcha’s there, “A Lalor has volunteered at this fete every single year since my mom first set it up in the 1990s.”

“Is that right?” Bunny goes. “We must see about getting you some kind of medal next year. Clean up that sick. And also one of the toilets in the ladies has overflowed again,” and then off the woman focks with a big, glass-chewing grin on her face.

Sorcha’s there, “Oh my God, did you hear the way she just spoke to me? I am so going to enjoy bringing her down.”

I’m like, “You might want to plunge that toilet first. It’s probably someone putting hand-towels down it again.”

After that rude interruption and actionable allegation made in front of more than two-hundred witnesses – I’m going to draw the winning ticket for the trip to Vilamoura

But there ends up being no time, because Bunny suddenly has the mic in her hand and she announces that she’s going to do the raffle now. There’s, like, a sudden buzz in the room and Honor tips over to us just as Bunny draws the first ticket to win a curling tongs and a €50 voucher for Hairway to Heaven on Castle Street.

Sorcha’s there, “Are you absolutely sure about this, Honor?”

And Honor’s like, “What, about the main prize being a fix? Oh my God, everybody talks about it! Do you even read the comments on the Dalkey Open Forum?”

I’m there, “Sorcha, I think we should maybe just leave it. You could set up a rival fete next year.”

But there’s no point in talking to her because her mind is made up.

After giving out 11 or 12 prizes – most of them €50 vouchers for local businesses – Bunny announces that she’s going to draw the winning ticket for the weeklong golfing trip to Vilamoura.

She spins the Tombola and Sorcha watches her like Faf de Klerk waiting for the ball to pop out on the other side of the scrum.

When the Tombola stops spinning, Sorcha makes her move. She would have made a very good scrumhalf, in fairness to the girl.

Bunny opens the little door on the Tombola and Sorcha rushes at her. The woman goes to put her hand inside the drum, but Sorcha grabs her hord by the wrist and lifts her hand into the air.

Bunny goes, “What are you doing?”

And Sorcha’s like, “Open your hand!” because – yeah, no – the woman’s fist is closed?

Bunny’s there, “I will not open my hand until you tell me what this is about.”

“The draw is fixed,” Sorcha announces to the crowd. “The winning ticket is already in her hand.”

There are, like, gasps in the room.

Sorcha’s there, “She does this every year.”

Bunny’s like, “How dare you?” which, of course, is pretty much the motto for the town.

But then she opens her fist. And there are even more gasps. Because it’s empty.

This will be discussed on the Dalkey Open Forum tonight – that’s as sure as we’ll be hearing from Bunny’s solicitor next week.

Sorcha goes, “I’m ... I’m so sorry,” and she’s looking at Honor, as if expecting an explanation.

Bunny goes, “Now – after that rude interruption and actionable allegation made in front of more than two-hundred witnesses – I’m going to draw the winning ticket for the trip to Vilamoura.”

I turn to Honor and I’m like, “Honor, what the fock?”

But she just goes, “Wait for it!”

Bunny sticks her hand in the drum. After a quick rummage, she whips out a ticket. She’s like, “It’s a–” and she suddenly stops, looking uncertain, then goes, “ – blue ticket? The number is ... six, six, six.”

“That’s me!” Honor shouts, holding up the matching ticket.

Bunny looks pale, like she’s about to pass out.

Honor goes, “As you know, Bunny, it’s the only blue ticket in the Tombola? I used double-sided tape to stick it to the inside of the drum – in place of the ticket you had stuck there,” and then she pulls another ticket out of her other pocket, “which I have right here!”

Sorcha’s like,” “Oh! My! God!” and she’s not the only one.

And Honor smiles and goes, “Merry Christmas, Bunny! You total crook!”

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