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Celebrity Manager By Roddy Doyle

Last update - Thursday, August 1, 2013, 13:05 By Roddy Doyle

Chapter Ten

Woof woof, fuckin’ woof!               

Joe didn’t look to see how many people were there. He couldn’t.

He saw the director’s hand again, gesturing, telling him to lift his head. But he didn’t – he didn’t look. They could cut this bit if they didn’t like it, or make him do it again later. He was getting the hang of being on telly.

Someone patted his back as he passed.

–Good man, Dog Man.

Someone else stepped out of the way, and the pitch opened up in front of Joe. It wasn’t too bad now. He didn’t have to look at anyone. Except his team. There was more than one camera but it didn’t matter. He was in charge. They’d have to move when he did. He didn’t have to look at the dog or its owner, the mad wagon who’d read the dog’s victim impact statement – ‘Woof woof, fuckin’ woof!’ – on the steps of the court.

He noticed now: the chanting had stopped.

–What’s happened? he asked Mick.

–The committee got in among them, said Mick. –Told them to cut it out or they wouldn’t be on the telly. It seems to have worked.

–Grand, said Joe. –They’re big lookin’ lads, aren’t they?

–The opposition?


-I’d love to see their birth certs, said Mick. –Some of those lads fought in Korea.

Joe wondered if Brenda was behind him, and quickly – as if he could hear her advising him – he made a decision. He saw the dog and the woman to his left, just down a bit, and he went across to them. A camera followed.

The woman saw him.

Joe was sure it was even quieter now. The crowd was watching, waiting, expecting. The dog looked harmless in its manager’s jacket; the poor bastard could hardly move. Joe smiled – he did – he smiled at the woman, and put out his hand.

–Best of luck, he said.

She stared at his hand and kept her own hands in her jacket pockets. He felt good as he turned and went back to Mick.

–Lads! he shouted. –Over here!

–Quick, Joe, said Mick. –The ref’s had his make-up fixed. He’s all set to go.

–Don’t worry, said Joe.

His team ran across to him like a bunch of puppies.

–Lads, he said.

He nodded at the opposition.

–They’re big but they’re crap.

Sunday laughed. So did the others.

–Go back out there and murder them, said Joe.

He watched them run to their positions.

–We’ll be winning at half-time, Mick, he said. –Wait and see.

He was wrong. It wasn’t murder exactly, but it wasn’t far off manslaughter. Joe didn’t know what made a good Gaelic footballer – some mixture of madness and dexterity. Whatever it was, it helped if the player was big as well. The opposition, the kids from the next parish, were big and some of them were good. Joe could see that. But Sunday scored a couple of points just before half-time and little Aaron – the matching head and shorts – somehow got the ball into the net. So the gap at half-time wasn’t too yawning.

–Six points.

–Not too bad, said Mick.

–Okay, said Joe.

He wasn’t unhappy; he didn’t know what he was. He hadn’t noticed the time passing. He’d forgotten about the dog beside him and his wife behind him. He was in the zone. He was Joe the Banaisteoir.

–Good lads, he said to the kids as they ran past him to the clubhouse. –Good lads.

He knew the camera was beside him now. He didn’t mind. He was smiling at the kids – because he wanted to.

Little Aaron trotted past.

–Good man, Aaron, said Joe. –Great goal.

–What goal?

–Just now, said Joe. –You scored a goal.

–Did I? said Aaron. –Deadly. Guys! I scored a goal!

–Jesus, said Mick when they’d stopped laughing. –That’ll win us the Oscar.

The cameras were at their shoulders as they walked across to the clubhouse, but Joe didn’t care and it was clear that Mick loved it. Joe could see the faces that had become familiar – Sunday’s dad, Konstantin with a K, the other people who held the club together. He saw a grinning face, Shona, one of his daughters.

–Hi, love, he said.

Now he saw them all, all four of the girls. And their mother, Brenda. His estranged wife, his ex-wife. His wife. She was smiling too.

He went across to her.

–Howyeh, Dog Man, she said.

–Ah, don’t start.

They both laughed.

–This is brilliant, she said. –Great crack.


–And you’re in the middle of it.

Joe thought about this.

–Yeah, he said. –I am. See you after.

Mick was waiting for him at the dressing room door.

–We’ll win, said Joe.

–I think we might, said Mick.

–We will, said Joe. –I’m telling you.




© Roddy Doyle 2013



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