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‘Ross, this was my sliding doors moment. And I made the wrong choice’

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

Sorcha has made an alarming discovery during her annual New Year’s Day clear-out

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“Oh my God!” Sorcha goes. “Oh! My! Literally God!”

Yeah, no, she’s upstairs, doing her usual New Year’s Day clear-out and every time she finds something that she’d forgotten about, her reaction is pretty much the same.

“Oh my God!” she goes. “Oh! My! Actual God?”

I’m horsing into the leftover Celebrations while rewatching Leinster’s victory over La Rochelle with my Rugby Tactics Book open on my lap. On the first page is written, “2023 will be my year,” and I cross out the 2023 – just as I’ve crossed out the 2022, the 2021, the 2020, and every year all the way back to 2010 – and I write in 2024.


Yeah, no, that’s my New Year’s Day tradition.

Sorcha’s like, “Oh! My God!” except louder this time because she’s in the actual room with me now. “Oh! My literally–?”

I’m there, “What’s wrong, Sorcha?” because I’ve had to pause the action just before Jordan Lormour’s try.

She’s like, “This,” and I notice that she’s got a piece of paper in her hands. “It’s, like, my birth certificate?”

I’m there, “And?” just trying to hurry the conversation along so I can go back to thinking about rugby some more.

She goes, “It says on it that my date of birth… is the 20th of April 1979.”

I’m there, “So?”

She’s like, “Er, my birthday is on the 19th of April?”

I’m there, “Yeah, I know when your birthday is, Sorcha.”

I actually didn’t. I just knew the month. Very subtly, I write it down on the corner of a page in the Tactics Book. That’ll be brownie points for me when the time comes.

She storms out of the room without saying another word. I leave it a few seconds – cords on the table, I watch the try, then scribble down one or two observations – then I follow her upstairs to the bedroom

She goes, “I have to ring my mom,” and she whips out her phone and steps out of the room.

I go back to watching my match. Literally five minutes later, she’s back, going, “Oh! My actual–!”

I pause the TV again. I’m there, “What did she say?”

“She said I was technically born on the 20th of April,” she goes, “because it was, like, one o’clock in the morning. But she went into labour on the 19th and they decided that they would celebrate my birthday on that day instead.”

“That’s that cleared up then. Back to the rugby so.”

“No, it isn’t cleared up. Don’t you see what this means, Ross?”

“Not really, no.”

“My entire life,” she goes, “I thought I was an Aries. But I’m actually a Taurus.”

I’m there, “And what are they like, Sorcha?” still thinking this falls into the old Fun Fact About Me category of dinner porty conversation.

She storms out of the room without saying another word. I leave it a few seconds – cords on the table, I watch the try, then scribble down one or two observations – then I follow her upstairs to the bedroom.

By the time I get there, she’s rummaging through a box of old keepsakes that she’s hung on to from our early days together. We’re talking the cinema ticket from our first actual date – Jerry Maguire in the Forum in Glasthule. We’re talking the receipt from Eddie Rockets in Donnybrook the night we first met – she paid. We’re talking Gerry Thornley’s report on our famous victory over Clongowes, when the dude described me as an Ireland stor of the future.

I’m there, “What are you looking for?”

And she goes, “This,” and she storts opening out this folded-up page torn from a magazine. “It’s from, like, Cosmopolitan. I want to read my horoscope from the week we met.”

She gives it the old left-to-right, not saying anything, while I pick up Gerry’s piece on my one-man demolition of Clongowes, having decided that the Tactics Book is the best place for it. It’ll definitely help with my confidence.

“Oh my God,” Sorcha goes. “Ross, listen to this. Love is in the air for you this week. As an Aries, you are blunt and honest about your feelings, but this can sometimes lead you to make hard decisions too early on, especially when it comes to matters of the hort. You may be considering embarking on a relationship that promises to be difficult and testing. But for once in your life, you must persist. It will be worth it in the end.

I’m like, “There you are then. And it was worth it, wasn’t it? Twenty years married this year. Four great kids – and yes, I’m including Honor in that.”

I’m there, ‘I don’t like this new you, Sorcha. I think I preferred you as an Aries’

“But that wasn’t my real horoscope,” she goes, staring into the distance. “This was advice for someone else. I was a Taurus and I didn’t even know it.”

“Sorcha, like your old dear said, it was a matter of, like, minutes. As a matter of fact, your head might be Aries and the rest of your body might be – what was the other one?”

“Taurus. And I’m going to read you the advice that they offered for Taureans that week.”

“No, why don’t I read you what Gerry Thornley wrote about me instead? The word ‘scintillating’ gets used – or am I thinking of Wardy’s report?”

Taureans are ruled by the planet of love, so it’s understandable that you want to feel loved, comforted and in a stable relationship–

“Which you are. Case closed. Move on. Yeah, no, just reading this, I think it was Wardy who said I was scintillating.”

However, this can sometimes lead you to make unwise or unhealthy choices or compromises. Listen to your head and not your heart this week. Don’t waste a minute of your time on those who are untrue. They are not worthy of your love. Wait for the right relationship to come along. Because a poor choice in this area can lead to–

She stops reading, just for dramatic effect, as she lays the page down on the bed.

Then she’s like, “–a lifetime of unhappiness.

I’m there, “Sorcha, you’re not supposed to take that s**t seriously. It’s just a bit of fun.”

She laughs – except not in a good way? She goes, “That’s what you said when you got off with Melissa Massey that week. And I decided to follow Cosmopolitan’s advice – and persist.”

I’m there, “Sorcha, I think you’re making a way bigger deal out of this than you need to?”

She’s like, “That’s what you said after you were with Melissa as well. Ross, this was my ‘sliding doors’ moment. And I made the wrong choice.”

I’m there, “I don’t like this new you, Sorcha. I think I preferred you as an Aries.”

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