Monday 20 January 2020

Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage: He who shouts loudest…


Charlie Savage. BH
Charlie Savage. BH
Roddy Doyle. Photo: Mark Condren

I'm standing in the kitchen. The wife and the daughter are with me. There are 'warm' smiles and 'happy' and 'affectionate' and 'winning' smiles - but can a smile ever be described as 'determined'? I ask, because they're smiling at me but their eyes are doing something else entirely.

They look a bit like a pair of aliens who've been taught how to smile but they haven't quite mastered it yet. The upturned mouths tell me they've come in peace but the eyes tell a different story: they are here to take over my world.

I've been half-expecting this. Now, I don't actually think the wife and the daughter are aliens. What's the name of that book I saw in the wife's sister's house once? Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Well, the wife's from Coolock and it's only a mile up the road.

No, what I've been anticipating is another campaign to get me to change my lifestyle. I've been expecting exercise regimes and dietary demands. They've tried it before and I find that the best policy has always been to go along with it until they forget.

But this time it's different. It's not about broccoli or body fat. The daughter has just told me that I'm going to become a social influencer. I don't know what that means but it doesn't matter; the words - 'social' and 'influencer' - grab my heart like two hands, and squeeze. The answer to the question "What in the name of Jaysis is a social influencer?" will more than likely kill me. And it's my own fault.

The radio was the bait. The daughter had turned it on when she was walking out of the kitchen. She knew I'd shout at it, and I didn't let her down. I come from a long tradition of men who shout at the wireless. It works for telly as well, but the newer media - phones, iPads and what have you - are all useless. Show me a man who shouts at his phone - at, not into - and I'll show you a nitwit. But one who shouts at the radio? You're looking at a man at ease with his masculinity.

It was my father who taught me how to shout.

- Is he a gobshite, Da?

We were listening to Mícheál Ó hEithir criticising the Dubs.

- He is, son, let him have it.

- Gobshite!

- Good man. How did that feel?

- Brilliant.

He taught me when to shout and when to wait, when to stare at the wireless with incredulity and when - and how - to stride across the room and turn it off. And, just the once, he even showed me how to throw it out the window.

He shouted at the wireless, even when there was nothing on. My mother asked him why and he answered: "I know what they're thinking."

Anyway. My father grew up shouting at De Valera and Churchill - a golden age of shouting. But I shout at everyone - politicians, most football pundits, at virtually everyone on between the hours of 9am and midday, and at the bells of the Angelus, all 18 of them.

- Bong, yourself!

And this, the daughter tells me, qualifies me to become a social influencer.

I look it up - I Google it - I slip on the reading glasses when she's not looking. A social influencer is someone whose opinions carry more weight with their colleagues and the general public than is the case with most individuals.

It's drivel, but I'm flattered. Social influencers establish large followings on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and are widely considered authorities among their followers.

Oh, Jesus. She has the wrong man.

I know my mistake. I've been shouting too often, and at too many. I've been shouting at chefs and consultants and style gurus - and everyone. When I roared, "What would you know?", I never meant to suggest - not for a minute - that I knew. I'd shout at myself if I heard me on the radio.

I know: they - the wife and daughter - have been worried about me. I went to the GP a few weeks back. He took my blood pressure and told me I was grand but I needed an interest. And I made the mistake of telling them. And now, apparently, I have one. I'm a social influencer and, unknown to myself, I have been for the past week.

The daughter holds up her iPad and shows me the Facebook page she's designed for me: The Shouter. She points at a number.

- You have 87 followers, like.

She shows me a video. It's me - I'm standing in front of the radio. I've just heard Leo Varadkar saying that he represents the people who get up early in the morning. And I shout.

- That's it, so! I'm staying in bed till the next f*****g election!

She points at the number.

I have 91 followers.

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