Big Lad: Put Mary Lou on the line, right away.
Mary Lou: Yes who is this?
Big Lad: Gerry, Belfast. Don’t get smart and pretend you don’t know the voice. I haven’t gone away you know.
Mary Lou: Lighten up Gerry. Nobody being smart. I just had the phone handed to me.
Big Lad: By who?
Mary Lou: One of the constituency office staff.
Big Lad: And she didn’t know my voice, nor tell you it was me?
Mary Lou: It never occurred to me to ask her.
Big Lad: Shorter memory than the one I am often accused of having.
Mary Lou: Possibly. No real reason to ask. Loads of calls come through each day. She might not have considered it an important detail.
Big Lad: It wasn’t Geri then. She considers me as very important.
Mary Lou: No. She’s blocked again.
Big Lad: This shouldn’t really need spelt out for you Mary Lou. I have given long service to this party, sent the IRA to the Knacker’s Yard to make it what it is, performed U-turns and summersaults which I practiced naked with my dogs on the trampoline, conned and shafted more republicans than you could shake a stick at. All of it for the struggle. My political career is not yet over. Even if a lot of what I do is in the shadows I don’t expect to have my valuable time wasted being kept hanging on the end of a phone while people powder their faces or whatever it is they do. It really is that simple.
Mary Lou: I’ll talk to the staff about it.
Big Lad: When you do let them know that no one will reduce me to a mere footnote at the bottom of the page. I authored this project. Anybody getting ideas about themselves to the extent that they no longer think I have a very important contribution to make to this struggle, will find themselves talking to Big Bad Bob.
Mary Lou: Okay - what can I do for you?
Big Lad: Why did you announce that you had the Coronavirus?
Mary Lou: I didn’t at the start. I waited almost two weeks.
Big Lad: You are with us long enough to know the drill. We don’t like bad publicity.
Mary Lou: What was bad about it other than having the thing was bad for me?
Big Lad: It tended to deflect attention away from the pivotal role I play in the project. Years have been spent profiling me at everybody's else's expense. And you didn't mention me once in your public pronouncement.
Mary Lou: And should you have been mentioned when it was me who had the bloody thing?
Big Lad: The party handles these things strategically, not on a whim.
Mary Lou: I was only telling the truth.
Big Lad: When did that ever matter?
Mary Lou: And your point is?
Big Lad: Ted had other plans and you have sort of queered the pitch.
Mary Lou: How so?
Big Lad: I was to announce that I had it and you stole the thunder.
Mary Lou: You didn’t tell us. How can we obey Ted and the boys if we don’t know?
Big Lad: You didn’t ask if you could make it public.
Mary Lou: Did I need to?
Big Lad: On a ship as tightly run as this one you know any action can rain on somebody else’s parade. You need to get things cleared by Ted and co. Have you forgotten O’Muilleoir already? I don’t mind if you have forgotten him but you are not to forget the important things, one of which is my role.
Mary Lou: I’ll keep it in mind for the next time.
Big Lad: There won’t be a next time. I can no longer get the same bounce out of telling people I have the virus. The moment has passed. You have it – that’s the story, not me having it.
Mary Lou: Why is it so important that people know you have the virus?
Big Lad: You thought it important enough for you to tell them you had it.
Mary Lou: They were asking where I was. A woman can’t just disappear.
Big Lad: Oh yes, she can.
Mary Lou: But that didn’t exactly go well the last time you made that happen.
Big Lad: Was it because you wanted people to think that you are more important than mise? I can’t help being important. It is just the way the dice rolled and now I am stuck with it.
Mary Lou: But I am the party leader. You stepped down.
Big Lad: Let me chide you. I stepped back not down.
Mary Lou: You didn’t tell the public that.
Big Lad: If I am ever to get my hairy hole on the big seat in the Aras, I have to maintain a high profile. The part you play in the strategy is to clean up the party image and give the Aras project space to grow, uncontaminated by the pesky past. It is not ego on my part just the humble role I have in the service of the party. I would rather be teaching at a university or writing poetry, even gardening. The thing is, people have to remember me. I need to be in the public eye. Not for vanity purposes. It is a party-strategic thing. It seems your constituency worker has forgotten me already. If she can forget after such a short period how will the public remember? This would have played well in the States with those eejits who renamed St Patrick’s Day as Gerry Adams Day, particularly when I would have gotten around to telling them I was working on a cure and therein ley the real reason I had to be treated by proxy.
Mary Lou: There is a logic to it. They must all be the ones in hospital for swallowing bleach and sticking UV lamps up their holes.
Big Lad: Exactly. Dicky D was ready to go into hospital in my place and get put on a ventilator in the ICU.
Mary Lou: Dick Dingleberry – why him?
Big Lad: My time is too valuable to let it fritter away in hospital. There is the eternal work of the peace process to be getting on with. If I am not present people would lose faith. Me out struggling with the virus to the extent that I had to send Dickie D in to get my treatment would have enhanced public sympathy
Mary Lou: But what does Dick think?
Big Lad: Dickie D is not paid to think.
Mary Lou: Do you actually have the virus?
Big Lad: What difference does that make?
Mary Lou: Credibility. I can’t be telling voters something ridiculous like you told me you have the virus, and I believe you.
Big Lad: I told you I was never in the IRA and you told the public you believed that.
Mary Lou: But this is different don’t you think?
Big Lad: Same principle.
Mary Lou: I didn’t know we had any of them.
Big Lad: Focus child. What was the urgency?
Mary Lou: There was none.
Big Lad: Really?
Mary Lou: Do you have it or not?
Big Lad: Sort of. I am pregnant with it.
Mary Lou: And pregnant with it is what you will be telling the public?
Big Lad: You could have said that about yourself but you rushed it out. You even went on the Late Late Show when you know the party likes that sort of thing for its big hitters.
Mary Lou: And presumably I, the party leader, am just a small gun.
Big Lad: Guns are a thing of the past, not my past but the past in general.
Mary Lou: After two weeks was hardly rushing. I rushed to get treatment because there was a shortage of agents for authenticating the test.
Big Lad: In a party like ours, you claim there is a shortage of agents. You are having a laugh.
Mary Lou: Anything but laughing. It even made my eyes sore.
Big Lad: If you wanted an agent we could have spared you Morrison.
Mary Lou: I mean a different type of agent. Something that is useful, not a useful idiot.
Big Lad: No shortage of them in Belfast, lots of different types too. Discovering new ones all the time but not making it public. I told you earlier about bad publicity. We keep these things internal, just like your virus should have been managed.
Mary Lou: That's a Belfast thing.
Big Lad: From now on follow policy – it's me first. Understand?
Mary Lou: I suppose.
Big Lad: Suppose what?
Mary Lou: I took it as given.
Big Lad: Okay. We are done here.
Mary Lou: Before you go one. last thing.
Big Lad: Which is?
Mary Lou: We have a problem with Brownie.
Big Lad: I’m not or ever have been Brownie.
Mary Lou: Will you stop thinking everything is about you?
Big Lad: Are you saying it isn’t?
Mary Lou: Not this.
Big Lad: I have been wrongly accused of being Brownie before. Dickie D had to take one for the team on that, even proclaiming to the world that my wife and son were actually his.
Mary Lou: This time it’s not you but Murphy up in Stormont.
Big Lad: How is he Brownie?
Mary Lou: For all the shite he talks.
Big Lad: Take it up with Ted.
Mary Lou: wait a …
Big Lad: Slan mo chara.
Constituency office worker: who was that?
Mary Lou: The Virus.