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Celebrity Manager

Last update - Thursday, February 7, 2013, 16:44 By Roddy Doyle

The Booker Prize winner continues his exclusive new story Celebrity Manager


Chapter Four


They had a jacket for him. Mick held it up. It was one of the padded ones, with the team crest, what looked like savage sheep, and the motto, something in Irish that Joe couldn’t understand.

He pointed at it.

–What’s it mean?

–Haven’t a clue, said Mick. –Ask Maduka.

–It means ‘Together we soar’, said the black man, Maduka.

–Jaysis, said Mick. –Some spacer came up with that one.

He turned the jacket, so Joe could see the back. His name – ‘Joe ‘Dog Man’ Gaffney’, and ‘Bainisteoir’ beneath it.

–What d’yeh think?

–How did you know I’d say Yes? Joe asked.

–Ah, we just had a hunch, said the woman called Mary. –D’you like it?

–Yeah, said Joe.

–You’ll be let keep it after, said Mary.

–Great, said Joe.

–Here, said Mick. –Try it on and give us a twirl.

Konstantin with the K grabbed the jacket from Mick and got behind Joe. He grabbed Joe’s hands and pushed them into the sleeves. Then he pulled the jacket up, over the shoulders, right up past Joe’s neck. Joe felt like he’d had his skin peeled – in reverse. A new layer of Joe was just suddenly there, already part of him.

Maduka pulled the zip up, past Joe’s chest, chin, mouth. It might have cut the tip of Joe’s nose; he wasn’t sure. He put his hand to his nose – no blood.

–Doesn’t he look the part, lads? said Mick.

–Most managerial, said Maduka.

–Like Rafa Benitez, said Denis.

–Don’t insult the poor fella.

The room was suddenly full of flashing iPhones and Blackberrys.

–It’s for the website, just, said Mary.

–But, said Mick, –here’s a thought. Will you come down to the clubhouse with us, Joe?

–I haven’t finished my dinner, said Joe, and immediately felt like an eejit.

–We’ll wait.

–No, said Joe. –It’s grand, I’m ready.

–Sure now?

–Yeah, said Joe.

He really didn’t know what he was doing. But he knew: the only person shoving him out the door was himself. He was doing what he wanted to do.

He was in the back of a car now, squashed between Mal and Maduka. Mick was driving.

–I don’t know why I brought this yoke, he said. –We’re only goin’ around the corner.

–Have you been in the clubhouse, Joe? Mal asked.

–No, said Joe.

–It’s a lovely job.

–I’ve walked past it, said Joe.

–Good man, said Mal. –So you’ve seen it anyway.


–From the outside, like.


–Wait’ll you see the inside.

–Can’t wait, said Joe.

He kind of meant it, although – again – he didn’t know why. But, really, he did: he was out for the night with a gang of people. They might have been kidnapping him, bringing him up the mountains to shoot him or pound him into the muck with baseball bats – although he doubted that; they were more likely to use hurleys. But, still, he was excited.

And worried.

What was he letting himself in for?

–Here we are, said Mick.

They were all out of the cars and surrounding Joe, and escorting him – nearly carrying him – into a hall, covered in team photographs. And up a stairs, and into a bar. There were photographs and a pint and a lot of handshaking and a pint. There was laughter and a pint and a bit of slagging, and a pint. He felt like he’d left his back pain back in the flat, beside his dinner. He felt like he’d left a lot of things back at the flat. He felt like the man he thought he used to be, before the dog had run him over. He felt strong enough to phone his wife, maybe even go there, to the house, now, and talk to her, charm her, sing to her, persuade her that he was still Joe, her Joe.

He was a bit drunk, he knew. But – God; Jesus – he was happy.

–You are crying?

It was the black guy, Maduka, who’d spoken to him.

–No, said Joe.

–That is not the truth.

–Okay, said Joe. –I am. But I’m grand.

This was mad.

–You regret becoming a celebrity bainisteoir?


–You are overwhelmed.

–A bit, said Joe.

This was still mad.

–Your Irish is very good, by the way, said Joe.


–Bainisteoir, said Joe.

–I say one word and you feel the need to compliment me?

Mick was suddenly beside them, between them.

–Don’t mind that fella, he said. –He’s only a cranky African. That right, Maduka?

–Sea cinnte, said Maduka, and he winked at Joe and he walked away.

–Does he really speak Irish? Joe asked.

–Maduka? said Mick. –He speaks everything. Knows everything. He’d wear you out. You ready for another pint?

The last thing Joe needed was another pint.

–Yeah, he said. –I’d love one.


© Roddy Doyle 2013


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