Friday 24 November 2017

Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage... in which I launch my brand campaign with a stiff drink


Roddy Doyle

I've nothing against Bovril. In fact, I'm quite fond of a drop of Bovril. I even put a dab of it behind my ears once - kind of an experiment to see if the dogs would notice.

I woke up in Beaumont A&E.

What happened was this: I'd been down on my hunkers, in among the grandkids, when we'd performed the experiment. The dogs came at me so enthusiastically - before I'd even put the lid back on the jar - that they knocked me backwards and I whacked my head against the side of the fireplace.

When I woke up in Beaumont, I was still clutching the Bovril.

The wife told me the dogs had attacked the ambulance men when they were trying to get me out of the house on a stretcher.

- The kids thought they were trying to kidnap you, she said.

- The dogs?

- The ambulance men.

- Would you have paid the ransom? I asked her.

Now that I think of it, she never answered.

But, anyway, I went home with my head bandaged, looking a bit like Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, I thought - Or a sheep's head in butcher's paper, she said.

My head was killing me but I was just delighted to get out of the A&E with it still attached to my neck.

I once heard about a chap who went in there with a sprained ankle and ended up donating one of his kidneys - a clerical error, they said.

But I was safely out, with both kidneys tucked up where they should be, and the wife even got me a milkshake from the Artane McDonald's on the way home. So I was happy enough and I never held it against the dogs - or Bovril.

So, like I said, I've nothing against Bovril. But I don't feel a burning need to keep telling the world that it's my beverage of choice. Because (a) it's not true - it's far from bloody true. And (b) I feel like a gobshite doing it.

But I have to.

I think I do.

It's the daughter's doing again. She tells me I'm a brand ambassador.

We've thousands of people following me on my The Shouter Facebook page and she says it's time to start cashing in on my popularity.

I stare at her - although it's hard to tell what my face is doing these days. A few weeks back, I thought I was smiling at the young one behind the counter of the Insomnia up the road, but she burst out crying and said she was sorry for my trouble, and she wouldn't let me pay for my cappuccino.

Anyway, she - the daughter - says if I keep mentioning how much I love the product, she'll be able to organise a few quid for us from the manufacturers.Now, I'm all for the few quid - I've a special account in the Credit Union for the grandkids. But, like, there's nothing coursing through my blood telling me to sing out for Bovril.

- Could I not do Hugo Boss? I ask her.

- They've got Gerard Butler, like.

- I wouldn't mind sharing with Gerard, I tell her. - I'm a better actor than he is, anyway.

- Be honest, Dad, she says. - Do you really - really now - know what Hugo Boss is?

I make an educated guess.

- It's either aftershave or underpants, I say. - Am I right?

She doesn't answer. No surprise there, I suppose - she comes from a long line of women who don't bloody answer.


Here I am, sitting at the open kitchen door, looking out at the last of the sun going down behind the back wall. I'm wearing sunglasses and I've a Bovril mug in my hand.

The daughter has her iPad right against my head. She's filming me.

I take a sip.

- Ah, I say, and I do have to say it, because I don't mean the 'ah' - the sigh - if that makes sense.

Or, I do mean the 'ah' - it's the genuine article, a sigh of genuine satisfaction - because I'm not sipping Bovril. It might say 'Bovril' on the mug but it's full of gin and tonic.

I turn to the camera.

- You can't beat a bit of Bovril at the end of a hard day's shouting, I say. - In fairness.

- We'll have to go again, like, says the daughter.

- Ah, Jaysis. Why?

- I could see your ice and lemon poking over the side of the mug, she says.

So, fair enough. Once more with feeling.

- Dad, she says.

- What, love?

- There's no steam, she says. - There should be steam, like. It's a hot drink.

- No problem, I say. - How's this?

I look at the camera.

- You can't beat an ice-cold Bovril and tonic at the end of a long day doing absolutely fuck-all.

She's laughing.

- Brilliant, she says.

Irish Independent

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