Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘I’ve been polyamorous since the late 1990s’

I’m having this brainwave when the old man shows up, asking for help to dissuade the old dear from applying to present The Late Late Show

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People talk about polyamory like it’s a new thing. I’ve been polyamorous since the late 1990s. It’s just that I’ve never told my wife.

I’m actually thinking this – having one of my famous brainiac moments – when the old man shows up at the front door, acting very shiftily, which is to say he’s being his normal self.

He’s like, “Well, a week away from Leinster v Toulouse! I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts! Aut vincere, aut mori – eh, Kicker?”

Over his shoulder, I can see the old dear sitting in the front passenger seat of the Beamer, looking upset about something.


I’m there, “Okay, what the fock is going on?”

He’s like, “Ah, yes, I was coming to that! The thing is, Ross, well, your mother is, em, a bit upset.”

I’m there, “And this affects me how exactly?”

“You see,” he goes, “she has her interview this morning for the famous Late Late Show job – and, well, she’s having a bit of a wobble.”

“How much has she had to drink?”

“She hasn’t had anything to drink.”

“There’s your answer then. O’Brien’s in Dalkey is open at eleven.”

I go to close the door in his face.

“No, no,” he goes, sticking his foot in the thing – the man was made for politics, “you don’t understand. She’s having one or two doubts about whether or not she’s the right candidate for the job.”

I’m like, “Hey, I can lay those doubts to rest right now – she’s not the right candidate for the job. Don’t tell me you came here looking for me to give her a pep talk.”

He leans in closer to me and goes, “No – I was rather hoping you might do the opposite.”

I’m there, “Excuse me?”

Please don’t put that image in my head. I had some warmed-up frittata for my breakfast and I’m pretty sure it was on the turn anyway

“Your mother can’t present The Late Late Show, Ross. She’s too –”




“I wouldn’t say that.”


“No, not that either. She’s just, well, not what they’re looking for, is she?”

“What, a drunken, 72-year-old swamp monkey with a face like me tasting anchovies for the first time? I wouldn’t have thought so, no.”

“The thing is, I just don’t want to see her disappointed, Ross!”

“Oh, she will be – trust me.”

There’s, like, 30 seconds of silence between us. Then he goes, “Of course, there is the other scenario to consider!”

I’m there, “As in?”

“Well, that she might actually get it! You see, I was rather hoping that your mother and I might ease ourselves into retirement like we would into a hot bubble bath!”

“Please don’t put that image in my head. I had some warmed-up frittata for my breakfast and I’m pretty sure it was on the turn anyway.”

“You see what I’m saying, though, Kicker? I just presumed that at this time of our lives your mother and I would be kicking back and enjoying the fruits of our proverbial labours! Well, if she get this famous Late Late job, she’s going to working all hours – including Friday nights!”

“So what do you want me to do about it?”

“Well, as her husband, I’ve been rather focused on playing the role of the advocate! I think what’s needed right now is a, em, devil’s advocate.”

“So you want me to tell her that this interview is a waste of everyone’s time?”

“As sensitively as you possibly can, yes. Lay out the reasons why you think she’s perhaps not the right woman for the job.”

All I can do is just shake my head and laugh. I’m there, “You’re a focking sly old dog, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?” he tries to go.

I’m there, “You get to be the supportive husband, who bulls her up and tells her that she can be anything she wants to be. And I’m the one who has to then totally undermine her self-belief.”

“It’s just you have a reputation for being a fearless truth-teller, Kicker!”

“Well, I’ve never been afraid to call it – that much is true.”

“All I’m asking you to do is to step over to the cor and maybe plant one or two more seeds of doubt in her head – to go with the ones that are already there!”

It’s the classic carrot and stick approach, Ross! I’ve told her that the job will be hers – if anyone has any sense out in Montrose!

“She presented that afternoon show for years. What was it called? FO’CK Cooking?”

“FO’CK Cooking! Quite correct!”

“She was terrible. Remember the time she had the DTs and she sliced the top of her thumb off while chopping an avocado?”

“That’s right.”

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

“And didn’t she drop an F-Bomb live on air when they told her to throw to An Nuacht before her entrecôte bordelaise was finished?”

“You see, this is the kind of thing she needs to be reminded about! It’s our duty, Ross!”

“You mean my duty?”

“It’s the classic carrot and stick approach, Ross! I’ve told her that the job will be hers – if anyone has any sense out in Montrose! Then you perhaps temper that by reminding her – yes! – about what she said on air that time!”

“It was, ‘Fock you and fock your focking Nuacht!’”

“That was it! And I’ll say, ‘Oh, this is new information, Fionnuala! We hadn’t thought about things from that perspective!’”

“And then, what, she’ll withdraw from the race?”


“Yeah, no, fine.”

“What? You’ll do it?”

“Like you said, I have a definite way with words when it comes to these kinds of things.”

I step out of the gaff and I walk up to the cor. The old dear winds down the window.

“Kicker has something to say to you,” the old man goes. “I told him you were having one or two doubts about whether you were the right woman for the job – stuff and nonsense, as I told you! – but Ross here has his own views, which he wishes to share with you! God knows what he’s going to say! Okay, Ross, let’s have it! Don’t worry if it’s tough love – your mother will understand if your intentions are good,” and he gives me a big, cheeky wink.

I look at him and I just smile. Then I go, “Good luck with the interview, Mom. And for what it’s worth, I think they’d be absolutely bonkers not to give the gig to you.”

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