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Extract: 'Millennials, they call them. Oh, I’m so offended at this, that and the other thing'

Catch up with what Ann Devine is up to in the latest novel from Colm O’Regan.

Colm O'Regan

 ANN DEVINE: HANDLE With Care is the latest sweet and comic novel from comedian Colm’ Regan. Just once, Ann Devine would like life to be straightforward. But there’s just too much drama knocking about for that to happen. 

Ann’s family is proving a handful at the moment. Her mother moves in after having a fall, her sister Ger is off ‘finding herself’ in India, leaving Ann to look after her teenage, wide a-woke niece Freya. Her daughter Jennifer is dealing with a love triangle that involves her mother-in-law-to-be. It’s all far from simple.

Now Rory, her youngest, has set his sights on a future as a local TD and it’s all Ann can do not to box him up and post him off to the backend of wherever is furthest away from his local ‘mentor’, politician, and all-round chancer Patsy Duggan. And that’s where we meet them in this extract…  

Colm O'Regan, Ann Devine Handle With Care_Jacket

I see a text from Tracy, my boss in Mellamocare, on my phone. Hey hun x ok if you could upload the events report, know I pain tx byeee x

Normally, I hate the paperwork I have to do for the people I mind in my job, but it’s nearly a relief to do it this evening. Just to take my mind off things. That feeling doesn’t last long.

Mellamocare are the ‘elder-care provider’ I work for and every single thing has to be documented in The System. What’s more, they’re after bringing in a new system, and it’s as shite as the old system but in a different colour. And they’re going to change the name to Soothocare. We got an email about it: We are reflecting the changing dynamic business environment as we move to NextGen™ elder care. Which is much better than saying: The Saudis who own us got into a bribery scandal last year.

This is all miles up above me in the ‘corporate ladder’. All that matters to me is that when I want to Add Update, I still get a message saying, Contact an Administrator. I wish I could contact an administrator when it comes to my own children. Who’s my ombudsman when my son neglects to tell me he’s leaving the country in a few days’ time?

Ah, I suppose he’s finding his path in life. And it’s some life-path, I can tell you. Patsy had been our TD for years and there was talk he was gone a bit stale. That he’d lost his fight.

Rory was only fifteen and on Transition Year work experience when he first went into his constituency office. By seventeen he was coming up with Patsy’s election slogans. RURAL CRIME: DUGGAN PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE. FOR BETTER BROADBAND, DOWNLOAD DUGGAN. DUGGAN TAKES YOUR POINTS AND GETS THE GOALS and a picture of Patsy playing football from his younger days.

DUGGAN: ONE LEG BUT TWO FEET ON THE GROUND. Patsy has only one leg after an accident in London.

Patsy said it was revolutionary. And it was, compared to what he used to send out. A cousin of his did his slogans before Rory and the slogans were as dry as bran. We would get leaflets in the door saying: WHAT THE SUCKLER HERD DIRECTIVE MEANS FOR YOU AND YOUR HERD. Rory told him his election literature was ‘tragic’ and set him up on Facebook and Instagram and the whole shebang. Patsy was entranced.

‘He has gumption, Ann,’ says Patsy to me time and time again. ‘You have all these young lads waiting around for something to happen now. Millennials, they call them. Oh, I’m so offended at this, that and the other thing. Rory is a pure throwback. If he was around a hundred years ago, he’d have run away to the Merchant Navy or been building railways out in Africa. When you get to my age in this business, you just know who has it.’

Even Mam thought he’d have made a great priest. ‘He’d have ended up a celebrity and all, Ann. With the hair. If he could sing, he’d be a millionaire priest. But no one wants to be a priest now.’

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I manage to finally get InfoMinder to believe me about how many adult nappies I’ve used this week and I press Submit on the four Sanitary Events. Rory knocks on the door. He’s caught me at a better time. He sits down next to me.

‘You’re on The System.’
‘I am.’
‘Sanitary Events – four. Is that a good week?’
‘Rory, you are terrible at making conversation.’
‘I know you’re upset, Mam, and I was putting off telling you. But I was going to be going away anyway. What did you think I was going to do this summer? Go out with Denis in the truck?’

There was no fear of that anyway. Denis and Rory are not a pair I would imagine delivering cement to a farmer building a new piggery. ‘I just thought you’d go working for The Professor.’ ‘I did too, Mam, but Patsy says this is a great opportunity. He wants me to learn everything, Mam. Patsy might try for the European Parliament in a few years, when he gets sick of it here. It’s a nice place to retire to. And when he retires, who do you think will take over? Who could be the next kingmaker from Kilsudgeon?’ He points his thumbs at himself and says, ‘THIS GUY, Mam.’

‘Oh, Rory.’
‘What’s the Oh, Rory, Mam?’
‘I don’t know about being a TD for a career. They do terrible hours. It’s not good for a family. I mean, if you had a young family.’
‘Mam, do you see any small family around me right now?’
‘No, but . . .’
‘Mam, the money’s good. You can make real change. Think about it. Your son the local TD.’
‘I see. I’ll think about it.’

He kisses the top of my head and switches on the football. I plug in earphones so I can finish off The System. What I don’t tell Rory is this. I see too much of my father in him.

The charmer, the fella who thought things could be done quickly and easily. Who had schemes and plans and who could walk into rooms and have everyone eating out of his hand. And like Rory, he thought he had it all sussed out. He knew it all. But my father was easily led. And he got led into trouble. By fellas who were a bit better at deluding than him.

Colm O’Regan is a comedian, columnist, broadcaster and anything else that will keep the wolf from the door. He’s the author of Irish Mammies and also Bolloxology, as well as the Ann Devine books. Ann Devine: Handle With Care is out now, published by Penguin.

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Colm O'Regan

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