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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Here we are on the roof of the house, vaping away to our horts’ content

I know they say it’s not good for your health but my relationship with Honor has never been better

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

“So,” I go, “what’s happening in your life at the moment?”

And Honor’s there, “Er, what focking business is it of yours?”

I’m like, “Hey, I was only asking.”

And – yeah, no – it’s nice, because it’s not often we enjoy these father-daughter moments. Yet here we are, sitting on the – believe it or not – roof of the house, vaping away to our horts’ content. I know they say it’s not good for your health but our relationship has never been better. We’re spending, like, time together – as in, like, proper quality time?


She goes, “Here, can you blow a smoke ring?”

And I’m there, “I, em, don’t think so – but then I’m only doing this a couple of weeks.”

She’s like, “Watch me,” and then she tips her head backwards and blows three perfectly round circles into the air.

I’m there, “Whoa!” because it’s seriously impressive. “Let me see can I do it.”

I give it a go, except I end up coughing and – yeah, no – spluttering my actual guts up.

She goes, “You’re not inhaling properly, Dad!”

And I smile. I’m there, “It’s not often you call me Dad.”

She gets embarrassed then. She’s like, “Whatever.”

I’m there, “Sometimes I call my old man Dad as well.”

“Yeah, great story,” she goes, “Dad.”

I’m like, “So tell me, what’s been going on with you? Are you seeing anyone at the moment?”

She’s there, “Seeing anyone? Oh my God, what year do you think this is?”

“I just mean, you know, are there any boys on the scene at the moment? Or girls. I’d be totally cool with that. I think. What with me being a cool dad and all.”

‘Is he, like, your boyfriend? Or what do you say these days – your bae?’

“There’s one boy.”

“And do you mind me asking–?”

“Wesley College.”

“Again – cool with that. Continue.”

“Well, there’s nothing more to tell.”

“There’s loads more to tell. Does the dude have, like, a name?”

“Yeah, it’s, like, Joshua?”

“Joshua,” I go. “Joshua. I like the sound of him already.”

She’s there, “He’s, like, really, really good-looking.”

“Well, the most important thing,” I go, “is that he sounds like our kind of people”.

“Okay,” Honor goes, “take a pull on your vape and inhale it into your throat. Now, keep your tongue at the bottom of your mouth, towards the back of your throat and make an O shape with your lips. Then push a small amount of vapor out like you’re, I don’t know, coughing gently.”

I have another crack at it, except this time I end up nearly spewing? We both have a good laugh at that.

I’m like, “So what’s the story with this Joshua dude?”

She goes, “What do you mean?”

“Is he, like, your boyfriend?”

“Oh my God, Dad!”

“Or what do you say these days – your bae?”

“Dad, we don’t feel the need to put labels on things like your generation do – okay?”

“Yeah, no, we had all sorts of ways to describe relationships. You could be with someone – but then you could be with with someone. You could be going out with someone, or you could be just seeing someone. Actually, I was usually going out with someone and seeing someone. Which was called doing the dirt. Like you said – labels.”

“Well, your generation had its moment. Why don’t you look back on your best bits in your own time?”

I’m like, “Yeah, no, fair enough. This is nice, though, isn’t it?” and then there’s, like, silence between us, which I fill by going, “Wesley College, though. Fair focks. So what does his old man do?”

She’s there, “He’s, like, a barrister or some shit?”

“Again – fair focks. To all concerned.”

“They live in, like, Terenure.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“But the house is, like, three storeys over basement.”

“Every cloud. So when do I get to meet this dude who’s, I don’t know, stolen my daughter’s hort?”


“Why not?”

“Because you say cringey shit like ‘stolen my daughter’s hort’. Seriously, I think I’m going to vom.”

I’m there, “Honor, if you’re worried about me embarrassing you, there’s genuinely no need.”

All of a sudden, I hear a voice below us in the gorden. It’s Sorcha. She’s like, “Ross?”

I’m there, “Er, no?” which is childish, I know. She’s been married to me for 19 years – several of them happily.

She goes, “What are you doing up there? And who’s up there with you?”

At that exact moment, Honor rolls away like a player caught on the wrong side of a ruck. She goes, “Tell her no one,” as she crawls towards the open skylight.

I’m there, “Er, no one.”

Sorcha goes, “I could hear talking.”

I’m there, “Yeah, no, I was talking to myself – just about rugby. Working out one or two regrets by verbalising them.”

I watch her little nose wrinkling, like it does when we check into a hotel with three stors or fewer.

“Oh my God,” she goes, “are you vaping up there?”

I’m there, “Er–”

“Don’t even try to deny it,” she goes. “I can smell it. Who gave you that thing?”

I’m there, “It was, em–”

Through clenched teeth, Honor goes, “You mention my name and that’s us finished.”

I’m there, “Yeah, no, I bought it myself.”

“Why?” Sorcha goes. “What possessed you?”

Honor goes, “Tell her that everyone else was doing it and you thought it looked kind of cool.”

It’s a terrible thing to say about your own wife, but she was – hand on hort – the worst tag rugby player I’ve ever seen in my life

I’m there, “Everyone else was going it and I thought it looked kind of cool.”

Sorcha goes, “Are you having some kind of midlife crisis?”

Honor’s like, “Tell her yes.”

I’m there, “Yes.”

“Throw it down to me,” Sorcha goes.

I’m like, “What?”

“That contraption in your hand,” she goes. “Throw it down to me.”

So I do. She misses the catch – although technically, it’s a knock-on. It’s a terrible thing to say about your own wife, but she was – hand on hort – the worst tag rugby player I’ve ever seen in my life.

She picks the thing up off the ground.

“That’s the last time you’ll be seeing this,” she goes, then she snaps it in two. “I’m very disappointed in you, Ross. Very disappointed.”

Into the gaff she trots.

Honor goes, “Thanks, Dad.”

I’m there, “Thanks? You focking hung me out to dry!”

She goes, “You’re such an amazing father!” knowing exactly what buttons to press with me.

I’m like, “Am I?”

“Dad,” she goes, “I think we’re genuinely bonding”.

And of course all I can say is, “Er, yeah, no, cool.”

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