Subscriber OnlyRoss O'Carroll-Kelly

‘Ross, someone has put up a poster of Honor on Foster Avenue.’ Apporently kompromat is the solution?

Sorcha claims the campaign for Honor to become Mount Anville Head Girl has been dragged into the gutter - through personal attacks on other candidates and inducements to students to vote for her

Listen | 06:19

So I’m driving along Vico Road – one of the bits of the road where two cors can barely pass – when I notice a black SUV coming towards me at speed. This being Killiney, the driver refuses to put two wheels up on the path to let me by, so I do my usual trick of winding down the window and going, “There’s a focking reason it’s called an off-roader, you know?”

You can probably imagine my surprise when I discover that the driver is – quite literally – my wife.

Luckily, she either hasn’t heard me or has something more important on her mind, because she has, like, tears streaming down her face?

I’m there, “What’s going on, Sorcha – as in, like, what the fock?”


She goes, “Someone has put up a poster of our daughter on Foster Avenue.”

I’m there, “What kind of poster?” except she doesn’t answer me.

She goes, “Ross, just follow me.”

Which is what I end up doing, even though she ends up losing me when she drives through a traffic light in Cornelscourt that was very, very red.

Politics didn’t change, Chorles. People changed it. Which is why my daughter’s image is staring down from every lamppost in Mount Merrion

Eventually, I make it to Foster – like she said – Avenue, and I see her SUV porked up ahead of me. Sorcha is already out and she’s looking up a lamppost at what, from a distance, looks like an election poster. It’s only when I get closer that I realise it’s a photograph of Honor wresting a shopping trolley from the Dodder as port of her community service. The photograph has been blown-up – and then, in big letters above it, it’s like, “Head Girl Material?”

I’m there, “Who the fock has done this?”

She goes, “Never mind who’s done it. Let me up on your shoulders. I need to take it down.”

So I get down on my honkers and she climbs up on my shoulders, and I get a sudden flashback to us at the first Oxegen festival in the summer of ‘04, when the Celtic Tiger was in full swing, I was knocking on the door of Lansdowne’s second team – and everything seemed possible.

She goes, “Is this what politics has become, Ross?” as she tears the poster down. But then, from up on my shoulders, she sees more of the things up ahead. “There’s hundreds of them! They’re all the way up Foster Avenue!”

And that’s when I get the familiar smell of Montecristo smoke in my nostrils. I turn around and my old man is standing there.

“This is your fault,” Sorcha goes – still sitting on my shoulders, by the way. “Ross, let me down,” which I do. “My fault?” the old man goes, acting the total idiot. “What on earth are you talking about?”

She’s like, “I’m talking about you, Chorles, bringing down the tone of the campaign with your negative tactics. Oh, this is all such a long way from my famous One School, One Planet, One Vision speech, which not only won me the election for Head Girl, but united everyone in the school, including Alison Portnoy, who conceded before the last votes were even counted.”

The old man goes, “In case you haven’t been paying attention, Sorcha, politics has changed! You can’t just throw up a poster with the word ‘Hope’ on it any more and presume that people will vote for you!”

She’s like, “Politics didn’t change, Chorles. People changed it. Which is why my daughter’s image is staring down from every lamppost in Mount Merrion like –”

“Like Laura Bullion,” the old man goes, “the Rose of the Wild Bunch!”

Sorcha’s there, “Okay, I don’t even know who that is.”

The old man goes, “I’ve a bloody good idea who’s done this.”

I’m there, “I’m guessing Raymond Matthews,” as in the father of Sincerity Matthews, the favourite. “Doesn’t he own, like, a printing company?”

The old man goes, “I think it’s time I used some of the kompromat I’ve collected!”

Sorcha’s there, “Oh my God, you have kompromat on Sincerity?”

“Of course not!” the old man goes. “What do you take me for? No, I have kompromat on her father!”

“Oh my God, Chorles, please tell me you’re joking.”

“Sorcha, my granddaughter asked me to run her campaign because she wants to win!”

“But how did you actually get this kompromat?”

Well, if that’s what the contest to become Mount Anville Head Girl has become, then I weep for the future of the school that provided the world with Mary Robinson

“I hired a private detective to find out anything worth knowing about the families and loved ones of Honor’s rival candidates! Don’t tell me the others didn’t do the same!”

She goes, “I’m sure they didn’t, Chorles.”

And he’s like, “Well, more fool them!” before he turns and makes his way back to his cor.

Sorcha goes, “Come on, Ross, let’s get this done.”

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

We spend the next three hours removing the posters from every lamppost on Foster Avenue, Mount Anville Road and Deerpork Road. Sorcha insists on staying up on my shoulders for the walk between each lamppost – “It’ll take too long if I have to keep getting up and down” – so it’s not long before I stort to feel it in my knees.

She goes, “I meant what I said, Ross. I blame your dad for dragging this campaign into the gutter by directing Honor to make personal attacks on the other candidates and also offering inducements to the other students to vote for her.”

I’m there, “I think she said she’d bring them on a skiing holiday.”

She goes, “Well, if that’s what the contest to become Mount Anville Head Girl has become, then I weep for the future of the school that provided the world with Mary Robinson and, well, obviously, Alison Doody.”

We’re just taking down the last of the posters – my knees are on the point of buckling – when my phone all of a sudden rings. I whip it out of my pocket and it ends up being Honor.

I’m there, “Honor, how the hell are you?”

Sorcha goes, “Ross, tell her that if it’s about the posters, she’s not to worry. And tell her that I hope this experience hasn’t damaged her belief in civility in politics.”

I’m there, “Did you hear all of that, Honor?”

Honor goes, “Bits and pieces.”

I’m like, “Yeah, no, sorry – she’s up on my shoulders here. That’s why I’m out of breath, by the way.”

She goes, “Anyhooo, I’m just ringing to tell you the news.”

I’m like, “News? As in?”

“My granddad,” she goes, “is an – oh my God – actual genius? Sincerity Matthews has just pulled out of the contest!”

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