Sunday 23 October 2016

Brendan O'Connor: I'm the almost-famous Brendan (not O'Carroll)

Published 03/02/2014 | 02:30

Brendan O'Carroll
Brendan O'Carroll

I'm a bit zonked coming out of the pool these days due to the HIIT, that's High Intensity Interval Training. Impressed are you? And so you should be. Without the aid of a trainer or any professional I have embarked upon a course of HIIT, which essentially involves me 'sprinting' for every fourth length of the pool.

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Now sprinting might be too strong a word for what I am doing. To the naked eye, or the semi-naked swimmer, it might not be that obvious that I am sprinting. Indeed, even if you were to set up finely calibrated sensitive equipment and train it on me, it is doubtful that the needle would go near 'sprint'. The only way you would really notice a difference between the sprint laps and the other laps I do is that the sprinting has necessitated the other three 'resting' lengths becoming much slower. So there is a difference between the sprints and the other laps, but the difference is due to a downgrading of the other laps rather than the speeding up on the sprint laps.

If I were to put some stats on it, I would be inclined to say that I have increased the speed of one lap in four by 10 per cent and as a result have decreased the speed of the other laps by 50 per cent. And that's just an average. The lap that comes immediately after the so-called sprint could be decreased in speed by as much as 100 per cent. Indeed, I worry that there is a danger that the lap immediately after the sprint could see me going backwards, such is the deceleration required for the little rest required after the sprint. I would be smoking a cigar for that lap if the conditions weren't so wet, and I would have my feet up on the desk if that wouldn't lead to potential drowning.

Anyway, it's all taking its toll and I come out of the pool a bit dazed these days. And it was in just such a daze last week that I noticed a missed call from a vaguely familiar number when I came out to the car. I also noticed that the caller had left a message. It was still quite early in the morning at this point so I was slightly concerned. My mother's new mantra is that everything changes with a phone call, and she is so right. So, I listened to the message. It was a well spoken woman. It began, "Congratulations Brendan ... " Now bear in mind that the mind is working quite quickly while listening to a strange message. So initial relief, then slight puzzlement. Who is this woman and how does she know it is my birthday and why is she congratulating me on it? Then again it can't be about my birthday obviously so maybe I have won a load of money. And then she says something about well done on your wedding. And would I come on the Pat Kenny show for a few minutes to talk about it. And then I realise what's going on. And then I puzzle for a minute. I thought Brendan O'Carroll was already married. But maybe I just assumed that, and maybe he wasn't and maybe he had a surprise quickie somewhere yesterday and it's in the papers.

You're wondering how I knew immediately it was Brendan O'Carroll? I just know these things. Firstly, I have had these calls before. Over Christmas some guy from a tabloid paper rang, being all nice like and congratulating me on my ratings and looking for quotes on it. And initially on listening to the message, I thought, "I mean, the ratings were good enough but they don't really merit a story in the newspaper, and since when did my colleagues in the press get so nice", and then I quickly realised it wasn't me he meant to ring.

Also, I know because there is a certain tone of voice that people use when they ring Brendan O'Carroll compared to the one they use when they ring me. I hesitate to use the word subservient, but it's a little more respectful. And, by the way, I checked the paper when I went home. She said win, not wedding, and she was referring to his triumph at the TV awards in Britain.

This has been the story of my life in a way, that half light of notoriety that you have in Ireland when you are nearly famous. For a long time it involved being called Dara by people (trust me, Dara O Briain is equally insulted when he gets called Brendan) and for the foreseeable future it seems it will be my lot to get early morning calls reminding me of the great achievements of Brendan O'Carroll, and reminding me that I am not him.

It could break a lesser man, this constant reminder of relative failure. But I am like everyone else in that Brendan O'Carroll is one of the few people to whom I do not begrudge his success. So I am happy to deflect some of his early morning disturbances. But maybe he should consider changing his name.

Irish Independent

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