Its a Dads Life: Its not often I get inspiration for a column from a book review, particularly for a book I havent read. But Ross OCarroll-Kellys Guide to South Dublin was given the once-over in this paper last weekend and declared not to be funny enough, writes Adam Brophy
Fair enough, maybe the humour doesnt travel to guide book form, but I, as a long-time Rock reader, was left bemused by the idea of his success being based on a “one-joke concept”. The reviewer boiled down that concept to the truth that there are some people living in south Dublin who are “constitutionally incapable of pronouncing the ‘t at the end of ‘right“
That little insight, that “roysh”, was what hooked me back at the start. It said it all. But the author, Paul Howard, is on the record as saying that Ross grew from Pauls desire to lampoon a perceived privileged class (one he latterly realised he felt resentful towards) into a character he feels sympathetic towards. And why not? Im sure Ross has paid for quite a few sun holidays, and probably with the OCarroll-Kellys of this world rather than on the beaches of Tallaght-cante. The stories are sympathetic, but with a cutting edge. They would never have had such longevity based on envy or any sense of meanness.
Instead, to be recognisable as a potential member of Rosss crew has become a badge of honour among many Kielys-drinking, ex-schools rugby “legends”.
Out in the world, how will it work going the other way? Unlike Howard, I did go to a rugby school (it was strictly division two, being in Kildare and not being the posh one) and afterwards on to UCD, so my path did at least wander into the same orbit as Ross and his posse. I even took part in the homo-erotic, tribal fest that is schools and under-19 rugby.
After travelling a small part of the world and discovering an affinity for the less salubrious sides of big cities, I came home and settled on the northside of Dublin. I would like to say it was to align myself with what Gavin Friday once called the “Scorcese-esque cool” of the northside, but it was purely economic. Yet here I sit still, never to be truly accepted and loving it. And here my children have been born and, thus far, raised.
The Younger has still not quite developed an accent, being all squeaks and misplaced pronouns, but the Elder has a definite style and persona.
Shockingly, it is pure Sorcha (Rosss soon-to-be ex-wife) with only a touch of Sharon from The Snapper. When she wants to share in another childs game, she will say, “Giz a shot”, but in the next breath go on to gush that “like, oh my God, Gwen Stefanis top in that interview on TRL was sooo cool”. Equating chic with a near-naked popstar is not only a fathers nightmare, it also seems a wonderful synergie of cultures from both sides of the river. And here I am aware I have to tread carefully if I am to have a comfortable stool in bars on either side of that divide.
It seems obvious to me that the full impact of our recent wave of immigration will only be apparent when first-generation children grow up and manage to cement the integration of the myriad cultures involved. But what of us local emigrants? In 20 years time, who will satirise the mega-rich on Vico Road whose construction empires began in 1990s Finglas, while philosophy graduates with ancient roots in Blackrock make up the majority in Berties current constituency? I await the rise of the “Sorchons” and the “Sharchas”.
My favourite Rock story involves Ross travelling to The Square in Tallaght to retrieve his stolen mobile phone. While expressing his horror en route at the squalour all around him, one of his buddies points out that theyre still in Terenure. Its funny because it gets under the skin. By the time my kids grow up, nowhere will be quite what it thinks it is.