Lord of the RamsLord of the Rams

Extract 2 - Turning the Water into Wine

Extract 2

This short extract is taken from Chapter 15 of Lord of the Rams. The year is 1996. Rams and Goosey are now in college in Waterford, living with another Munterconnaught man - a certain Gavin O'Dowd. Money is at an all-time low, but Dowd takes it upon himself to show his flatmates how to furnish the flat with the bare essentials ...

Cablelink was another commodity that the lads could ill afford but couldn’t do without either. For fear of dying from boredom in the flat, they had no choice but to rent a television from a nearby electrical shop. Yet, even with a set of rabbit’s ears that Goosey had brought with him to Waterford, the lads could only muster the faintest reception from the television. A Cablelink connection would supply all the terrestrial stations and many more besides, but that came at a price and, having already splashed out on renting the television, the lads couldn’t afford to pay cable bills.

Dowd surmised that all of the other residents in the building must surely have had a Cablelink connection, and so he decided to pay a visit to his closest neighbour who lived in a flat, which was situated further up the small flight of stairs that linked all the flats in the building together.

X-File Man, as he would come to be known, appeared to be a quiet yet mysterious character in his late forties who had been living in the area for many years. The lads had seen him coming and going but had not yet spoken to him, and Dowd was quite surprised, upon knocking on his door, to find a friendly albeit strange man welcoming him into his sitting room for a chat.

The first thing Dowd couldn’t help but notice was that the walls of the flat were almost completely covered with posters and photographs of Gillian Anderson. She played the female lead character in The X-Files, which was one of the biggest shows on television at that time. A 12-year-old boy plastering his bedroom walls with posters of a television star is one thing, but when a middle-aged man does likewise with his entire living quarters, one could be forgiven for assuming that he needs to get out more often.

The plan was simple in theory. Dowd would ask X-File Man for permission to run a cable from his television to the one downstairs in Flat 4A. But one cannot simply cut to the chase on these occasions, and a bit of small talk was the least he could do by way of a common courtesy to his potential cable provider. Dowd was never a man short of a few words and, having exhausted the topic of how shite the weather had been for the past few weeks, he turned his attention to the posters adorning every wall in the room.

‘I see you’re a bit of a fan of Gillian there,’ he remarked.

'Oh, she’s an amazing woman,’ answered X-File Man, his eyes lighting up at this rare opportunity to discuss his dream woman with a fellow human being.

‘She’s something special all right,’ Dowd said, nodding his head and smiling as if trying to make himself believe what he was saying while simultaneously glancing at the door to ensure that it hadn’t been locked behind him.

‘There’s Gillian eating an ice-cream,’ returned X-File Man, pointing to a photo above the artificial fireplace. ‘And there’s one of her getting ready for bed.’ An uncomfortable silence followed before he continued. ‘That one over there is Gillian’s sister. And beside that is a photo of Gillian brushing her teeth.’

Dowd was beginning to wish he’d raised the subject of the posters after asking about the cable. Meanwhile X-File Man continued ranting, his tongue now hanging out of his mouth, causing drool to slither menacingly down his chin.

Finally, as the Gillianophile caught his breath for a moment, an exasperated Dowd seized the opportunity and asked him about the cable. Fortunately, Dowd’s tireless groundwork had put him into his neighbour’s good books and, despite Dowd’s half-hearted offer to contribute something towards his monthly Cablelink bill, X-File Man agreed to supply cable to the lads free of charge.

Later that day, Dowd and his flatmates visited a hardware shop with the view to buying a length of cable, which would be used to connect X-File Man’s television to theirs, thereby providing them with the free cable Dowd had worked so hard to get.

‘How much cable do you need?’ asked the shopkeeper.

‘About this much,’ Dowd replied, throwing a ball of wool across the counter, to the bewilderment of the assistant.

Rather than risk guessing how much cable would be needed to connect the two flats, the lads had purchased a ball of wool and measured the distance, almost to the inch. Wool was cheap; cable was not and, if they’d haphazardly and incorrectly estimated that 40 feet of cable was needed when 30 feet would suffice, they would have been further out of pocket than necessary.

Returning to the flat with a cut-to-size piece of cable and connectors, the boys set to work in a scene that could have been straight out of The A-Team. Dowd, having briefly discussed the merits of Gillian Anderson’s ample breasts with his neighbour, connected one end of the cable to X-File Man’s television and then threw the remainder out the window to the Rams who was waiting below on a flat roof, which ran along the sitting room window of Flat 4A. He then passed the cable through the window to Goosey who, within seconds, hooked it into the back of the rented television.

Finally the lads had picture, sound and a means of entertainment. Nevertheless, the best entertainment is often self-created and that would ring true over the course of the following weeks and months in Flat 4A.

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