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Celebrity Manager

Last update - Friday, March 29, 2013, 13:03 By Roddy Doyle

Chapter Six


Whazzup, Dog Man, said one of the kids.

–No lip now, said Mick. –Listen to your manager.

Joe hadn’t a clue what to say.

He took a breath.

–You’re doing very well, lads, he said. –I’m proud of yis.

–They’re being hammered, Mick whispered. –They’re on strike out there, some of the little bastards.

–You can do better, said Joe.

–Good man, said Mick.

–Don’t let them bully you, said Joe.

–Brilliant, said Mick.

–And don’t let them humiliate you, said Joe.

–Take it easy, Joe, Mick whispered.

–Humiliate them instead, said Joe.

–Now we’re talking, said Mick. –Back out now, lads. And come here – Aaron!

The smallest kid – he was just a head resting on top of a pair of shorts – stopped.

–What? he said.

–Get back into the hole, said Mick.

Aaron nodded, and nearly fell out of his shorts.

–He’s a tryer, said Mick.

–Look it, Mick, said Joe. –I know nothing about tactics or team psychology. Is there a book I can read? Or a magazine.

–Guns & Ammo, said Mick. –Don’t worry about it. You’ll pick it up. Buy them hot chocolate after the match and they’ll die for you the next match.

Joe watched and tried to figure it all out. He shouted when he remembered to.

–Good lads! Mark your man! Get back in the hole, Aaron!

The lads – his team – were livelier in the second half. But they were still losing, and it started to rain. Joe checked his pockets. He wasn’t sure how much 15 hot chocolates was going to cost him. He was so cold now, the final whistle – the long, beautiful blast – made him want to trot across the muck and hug the referee. But he didn’t. He couldn’t trot, and the ref didn’t look like a man who ever wanted to be hugged.

The team came slowly towards him.

–Good lads, said Joe. –I’m proud of you. And you look like you need hot chocolate.

The hour’s misery was immediately forgotten. The team were warriors, returning home not just damp little lads who’d been hammered by some bigger little lads. And the warriors followed Joe across to the club shop and waited patiently for their chocolate, and chatted to Joe and told him who they were and what they liked and hated.




They made him laugh, and that surprised him. But the biggest surprise was their origins. It shouldn’t have been; he knew Ireland had changed, and he’d met the club committee. But he never thought he’d meet Gaelic footballers called Dmitri and Sunday. A black Gaelic footballer was easy enough to imagine, but a Chinese one? Yet he was there in front of Joe, guzzling his hot chocolate. And a Polish Gaelic footballer seemed even stranger. The people of Poland had endured world wars, revolutions, decades-long oppression – for the right to play Gaelic football? It was a bit mad. But Joe liked it.

He was going home later, to say hello to his daughters and Brenda, his wife. He’d have plenty to tell them now, things that would make them grin and laugh. If Brenda was there. She sometimes went out when he came to see the girls. She was still angry with him.

Mick was beside him.

–Training’s on Tuesday, at half-six, he said. –That okay with you, Joe?

–Okay, said Joe. –No bother.

He liked the way he said that.

–And come here, said Mick. –The first Celebrity Bainisteoir game is next Sunday. Okay?

Joe took a breath.

–Okay, he said.

He’d be telling the girls; their dad was going to be on the telly. They’d never believe him.

–So, said Mick. –The make-up girls will be here on Tuesday, to have a good look at you.

–Make-up? said Joe.

He could see his team nudging each other, getting ready to laugh.

–Yeah, said Mick, as if putting on fake tan and mascara was an everyday event for him.

Saying ‘okay’ was becoming increasingly dangerous for Joe. But –

–Okay, he said.

–Grand, said Mick. –You can bring your own make-up, if you like. That right, lads?

Joe stood and took his slagging.

Now, armed with all his news, he was on his way to meeting his daughters. He wasn’t sure, but it felt to Joe like walking was getting easier. He felt looser, lighter.

But then the thought hit him. Really hit him.

If there was one thing that had wrecked his marriage, one thing more than anything else that had made Brenda angry, it was the dog that had driven the car. And here was Joe, on his way to tell her and the girls that he was going on television with the dog.

–Oh God, he said.


© Roddy Doyle 2013


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