Micheál gets all crafty over Gerry's artful coalition advances
It was raining cats, dogs and every animal from aardvarks to zebras outside the RDS, while inside the building Micheál Martin was busily pouring equal amounts of cold water on even the scintilla of a suggestion that Fianna Fáil were flirting with the notion of doing the business with Sinn Féin after the coming general election.
Micheál, along with Mayo's Dara Calleary, were touring the National Crafts & Design Fair as a sort of warm-up canvass for the upcoming main event.
It may seem an odd choice to canvass for a party with nary a Dublin deputy, but the fair is both an Aladdin's Cave of gorgeous jewellery, food and Christmas gifts, and a treasure-trove of older rural folk on day trips to the capital - citizens who may well have voted for Fianna Fáil before they plummeted from favour.
"He's nice-looking, isn't he?" mused one grey-haired woman to her pal.
"Very nice, yeah," she agreed as they both studied Micheál as he posed beside bottles of organic oil.
Another passing woman buttonholed him. "You need to sharpen up to get rid of the other crowd," she scolded him.
Micheál looked around anxiously. "You heard that she was talking about 'the other crowd'?" he checked anxiously with the earwigging reporter.
Compliments are to be savoured by the battered soldiers of destiny - a bit like the morsels of sizzling sausages, black pudding, goat's cheese and dry cider which the Fianna Fáil leader was tucking into as he grazed the food-stands.
Another white-haired citizen bustled up as he was tasting a bit of rasher. "You made a holy show of yourself in the Dáil the other day," she declared with spirit. Micheál chose not to speak with his mouth full. He bought loads of vittles as he went - sausages, pots of honey and jam. Soon his obliging sidekick Dara was like a pinstriped Sherpa, with bags hanging off him.
But more than once Micheál found himself crafting an answer to the same question. "Ye aren't going in with Sinn Féin?" demanded two women.
"One hundred per cent no," he assured them.
On one stall, Eamon and Linda Mullins warned him: "We stuck with you through thick and thin, but if you go into coalition with Sinn Féin, we'll never vote for you again."
Micheál was adamant. "It's a non-runner. As long as I'm leader of this party, it'll never happen," he insisted.
As he headed to the exit, he nodded at a stand called 'Away with the Fairies'.
"That's a pretty good description of us right now," he reckoned.
Then he was aghast.
"I meant Leinster House in general, not Fianna Fáil."
But of course.
Then two giggling ladies dragged him away to inspect cheeky cartoons of himself and one of Enda.
The chap manning the stand cheerfully presented Micheál with a little gift - a pair of golf balls stamped with the old Anglo Irish Bank arrow logo.
And underneath the grim design was the slogan: "Making a balls of the country".
He tried to look suitably grateful to the friendly man.
But one suspects he would've preferred any other pressie - even a Sinn Féin badge - right then.