I went to a reading and Q&A session with Paul Howard today, the creator of the most famous Heino swilling, rugby-playing, D4 Romeo in the country—Ross O’Carroll Kelly. The notorious RO’CK has spawned 10 novels, several plays and a column running since 1998 (starting in the Sunday Tribune and now in The Irish Times Magazine on Saturdays).
I’m a big fan. I spent many a bus journey disturbing other passengers with my sniggering at Ross’s antics. The characters are outrageous; the jokes are razor sharp and the plots timely. Ross charts the trials and trends of modern Ireland with tongue in cheek but incisive social commentary. Example: Responding to ex-wife Sorcha asking what kind of world did they bring their daughter Ross replies, (paraphrased) “I know babe. The other night I had a dream about sitting in green fields with Honor and telling her ‘This used to be filled with aportments’”.
The Department of English Language & Literature at Mary Immaculate College (UL) has put one of his books on English course. This just shows that they’ve added lots of good stuff since I graduated, including the lovely building in which the 500 seat Lime Tree Theatre is situated. Head of department, Eugene O’Brien, praised the author for satirising modern Ireland but also read some pieces revealing Ross’s well hidden humanity.
Howard said that he was honoured by his inclusion with literary giants like James Joyce but thought that it was perhaps giving too much weight to his work. He said when he told his wife about it, she agreed they were “definitely reading too much into it”.
He read three extracts, including one from his new ROC’K book, NAMA Mia (or Me-a? maybe?). The author thought it would be fun to make Ross a gigolo so he can at least get paid for being a hoor. He read from his first attempt at writing a sex scene for the Rossmeister, joking that it was suitably romantic—taking place with a cougar in the ladies’ toilet at a Michael Bublé concert. It raised plenty of laughs, with lines like “soon she was bouncing up and down on me like she was on the Wii Fit”.
He’s an engaging storyteller with great comic timing but then, the material is hilarious and the audience was made up of (hard to shock) students. Talking about the Celtic Tiger era, Howard pinpointed the moment when he first heard the phrase and understood its meaning. He described a coffee shop near the Tribune that used to sell a cup of coffee for 50p. It closed and reopened with a revamped shopfront, a fancy title and then sold the “same cup of coffee” for £3.50. That just about sums the madness up!
One person asked how many more books did he think there would be, he answered that Nama Mia would be his eleventh novel and “there will be a twelfth” but after that he isn’t sure what’s in store for Ross. It seems like he can’t quite believe a caricature of people he overheard at rugby matches has come so for, y’know?
Howard was also asked when ‘Kicker’ will come to Limerick and replied that Ross has offered his services to Munster so you never know! That would be, like, focking amazing.
The event was organised by three postgraduate students—Clare Gorman, Louise Brett and Rory Feehan. Well played goys!