My main contact with the outside world nowadays is very anxious for my wealth and welfare. He has an English accent (somewhere well east of Suez, I think) and phones me from Switzerland every week. Luckily, he doesn’t know I’m (was) a medic or, no doubt, he’d show his great love for my profession by calling every day.
“Hello, is this Garrett?” he always begins. He hopes we are enjoying good weather (if only he knew what way the silage was this year) and that my investments are doing well. I didn’t let on that I don’t ever wear them, winter or summer. The first few times, I regrettably said something civilized like “Speaking” or “Yes”, sometimes wearing my Dublin (Southside) consultant accent (‘Go Kearno, total legend!’).
Laterally, I have become more inclined to say, “Embassy of Ahaddagh Upper, Florrie Donovan speaking — how shall I be of assistance, boy?” But all of this hopped offa him like you’d see in a handball alley. For a time, following advice from experts in cold-call strategy, I would cover the mouthpiece and try him with a prolonged monastic silence, or even go, “hello, hello, hello…” for a minute before hanging up, or “go away you cábóg, you”. None of this class of thing has any effect in discouraging him. His neck makes him ideally equipped to ride for Aidan O’Brien.
Next week, he’s back again, urging some big gamble which would make my fortune overnight. He’s especially keen on goldmines and would like to transfer to me, for a consideration, part ownership of a Zambian certainty. I have to admit that one rarely comes across such altruism these days. Ponder this: he knows how to make a fortune overnight and yet is willing to call every number in Europe to share his good fortune. I have concluded, therefore, that he must be phoning from the Vatican Bank. If you have no problem with Popery or the guarantee of instant riches, get on to him immediately. His 0041 number is with the Editor, who will probably be able to retire next week.
Mickey in a mousetrap
I can even say nice things, like I recall the time his mother was a canal horse in Guinness’s, or ask him if he’s anything to the famous fella in the legendary ditty who caught his mickey in a mousetrap. I might as well be roaring out into a field of buachalláns for all the effect such insults produce. Sometimes I put on my subcontinent accent, confess to being a descendant of Mr Nehru and ask him what village his father’s people are buried/burnt in. No effect at all — still relentlessly upbeat with the gold shares. Then, one day, I told him straight out that I had no interest in becoming rich and, besides, wasn’t it Jarleth Mattimoe he was talking to. That, unexpectedly, put a halt on his spiel. I had bullseyed his aggro parts; he completely lost it. “I must say that the attitude you are having to somebody who is making great efforts to assist you to become wealthy is most dishonourable and most despicable!” He hung up on me.
There’s customer relations for you; I hope the Cardinal was recording him. The nine first Fridays and a stint in Brother Bonaventura’s cell on gruel and water would do him no harm at all. Clearly, I had stumbled upon the secret to rocking his hitherto unflappable equanimity.
My advice therefore, should he bother you, is that you would tell him that you are one of the Mattimoes. I can’t tell you what falling-out he may have had with Jarleth or his family; maybe a goldmine or two in a will, or something like that. Way back, there was a dispute over some ground back near Corrandulla and, if I recall correctly, boundary stakes were pulled up outta the ground and bad bacon thrown into a meadow.
You’ll have heard your grandfathers speak of the holy well that was poisoned and the seven calves that died. I’m fairly certain there was a Mattimoe in that dispute — it was in the Connaught Tribune of the time — but I think his first name was Turlough. Which put me to thinking that maybe my Vatican man came down through the Connaught Rangers in his part of the world.
I must ask him about the DNA when next he’s on and of course enquire whether he might be originally from the Jalandhar side. I might even put it to him that he’d consider coming West for the Gathering next year.
Anyways, I am greatly confident that, when he’s finished his penitential stint, he’ll be back. I’m beginning to regret my near incivilities. I’ll be generous and let him in on the prospects for Rory McIlroy’s new clock factory. And, after all, wasn’t it the Vatican lads who noted that it might pay the Premier boys more to give as much attention to High Mass as they do to the high five, the high skirt and the high stool? Saved me a losing wager in the semi-final. I owe them one.
I’ll be one of the Lonergans of Drangan next time. They never fought with anyone.