Subscriber OnlyRoss O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Honor says Joshua just wants to be friends. Better than nothing I say, but I hate lying to the girl

Honor goes, ‘It’s because I’m not good-looking.’ I’m there, ‘Looks aren’t important, Honor,’ and I’ve no idea where I’m pulling these lines from

Listen | 05:53
Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Honor. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

The front door slams – so hord that I can feel one or two of my back teeth come loose. Then it’s followed by an animal roar that sounds very much to my ears like “Waaannnkeeerrr!!!!”

Me and Sorcha eye each other nervously across the kitchen floor. I’m there, “Sounds like Honor’s thing with the famous Joshua might have fizzled out.”

There’s a loud thump, then the sound of glass breaking.

I’m there, “I’d better ring the glazer. I predicted this – in fairness to me.”


Sorcha goes, “What did you predict?”

I’m there, “I said he was out of her league in terms of looks. Seriously, Sorcha, the dude looks like Harry Styles – it was only a matter of time before he realised that he could do better.”

She’s like, “Ross, that’s a terrible thing to say about your own daughter.”

I’m not going up those stairs, Sorcha. She sounds mad enough to legally kill someone

I’m there, “Hey, I’ve never been afraid to make the big calls. And I seem to remember that you said something pretty similar on Easter Sunday after I collected you from the Mount Anville Past Pupils’ Union Prayers and Prosecco morning. You said she was – and I quote – dreadfully plain.”

She goes, “I’m not sure if that’s what I said.”

I’m like, “Word for word, Sorcha. Word for literally word.”

“Well, like you said, I’d had quite a bit to drink,” she goes. “And I was just making the point that I think she could, you know, make more of herself. I’ve tried to subtly offer her wardrobe and make-up tips but she’s not interested.”

There’s another scream and something heavy hits the floor.

Sorcha goes, “Ross, you need to go and talk to her.”

I’m there, “Me? I’m not going up those stairs, Sorcha. She sounds mad enough to legally kill someone.”

She’s like, “What if she gets hold of that rugby jersey you bought?”

I’m like, “Excuse me?”

Yeah, no, she’s talking about the one that James Ryan wore against England in the Grand Slam decider. My old man paid 40k for it at a charity auction in Fitzwilliam.

I’m there, “I thought you took it to the framers.”

She’s like, “No, I was going to do it today. It’s on our bed. And if she’s stomping around up there, looking for things to destroy –”

She doesn’t need to say another word. I’m up those stairs like Angelina Jolie has just gone, “Are you coming to bed or am I going to have to lick this chocolate mousse off my own body?”

And not a moment too soon either. Honor is standing on the landing with the jersey in her two hands, getting ready to rip it in two.

I’m there, “Honor, please, no. Whatever’s happened, it’s not James Ryan’s fault. I’m on the record as saying that he was our best player in the Six Nations this year and he was outstanding again against Toulouse yesterday. I actually put him down as a 10 in my Rugby Tactics Book.”

She’s not interested in my analysis, though. It’s wasted on her. Strawberries to a donkey.

She goes, “Joshua said he wants us to be friends.”

I’m like, “Friends?” at the same time watching her twist the jersey in her hands. “Friends is good, Honor. Friends is better than nothing.”

I hate lying to the girl, but what can you do? It’s James focking Ryan.

She’s there, “You said men and women can’t be friends?”

I’m like, “Did I? Doesn’t sound like the kind of thing I’d say. Be careful, Honor, you’re putting a fair bit of strain on the stitching there.”

She goes, “Name one girl you’ve ever been just friends with.”

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

I’m there, “One girl? Okay, let me think about that one. One girl. One girl.”

Sorcha has been listening at the bottom of the stairs and she decides that it’s safe enough for her to come up. If my wife played rugby, she’d be one of those players who always arrives at a ruck after it’s been cleared out?

She goes, “What happened, Honor?”

We’ve all played with someone like that.

Honor’s like, “Focking Joshua focking friend-zoned me – that’s what focking happened.”

Sorcha’s there, “Well, that’s his loss, isn’t it?”

What you’re going through, Honor, is nothing new. Remember, I slammed that same front door and stomped up these exact same stairs – all because of boys. Well, one boy

Honor goes, “Er, how do you work that one out?”

I’d be interested in hearing this myself.

Sorcha’s like, “If he can’t see how – oh my God – wonderful you are, Honor, then there must be something seriously wrong with him.”

It’s weak as piss and she knows it.

Honor goes, “It’s because I’m not good-looking.”

I’m there, “Looks aren’t important, Honor,” and I’ve no idea where I’m pulling these lines from. “They’re not important at all.”

She goes, “Okay, name one girl you’ve ever been with who wasn’t good-looking.”

I’m there, “Honor, you’ve already asked me to name one girl who I’ve been friends with – so which one is it to be?”

Sorcha’s like, “What you’re going through, Honor, is nothing new. Remember, I slammed that same front door and stomped up these exact same stairs – all because of boys. Well, one boy,” and she makes a big point of looking at me.

Honor goes, “That’s different. Dad messed you around because he’s an asshole. Joshua doesn’t want to be with me because I’m a Plain Jane.”

Sorcha’s like, “You’re hordly a Plain Jane, Honor,” and I’m thinking, ‘You’re pushing it there, Sorcha.’

Honor, you would be perfectly within your rights to tear that jersey in two

That’s when I end up saying it. I’m there, “Even though you could, you know –”

Honor’s like, “What?”

“Well, make a bit more of yourself,” I go, then I look at Sorcha for back-up. “In terms of, like, clothes and make-up. What do you think, Sorcha? Could you give her any tips?”

But Sorcha goes, “What, you think our daughter should beautify herself just to prove herself worthy of a boy?”

I’m there, “Sorcha, I’m just looping back to something you said when you were half-steamed on Easter Sun-”

But Sorcha goes, “Honor, you would be perfectly within your rights to tear that jersey in two.”

I’m like, “Please, Honor. I’ll give you another one to rip. I’ve got one of Donncha O’Callaghan’s old Munster jerseys out in the shed. My old man only bought it to stop Denis O’Brien from having it.”

But she scrunches up her face and a second later I hear a loud ripping sound, followed by a shorp scream, which – it turns out – has come from me.

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