Cork writer Conor Ward presents the opening chapter of his new regular column..." />

Justin Barry “My Side” - Chapter 1

Posted on Aug 31, 2007 in Justin Barry - My Side


Justin Barry - My Side (Chapter 1)

I wake suddenly, my hand reaches in desperation from under the quilt, I feel frantically around the top of the bedside locker. I had the crazy idea of setting my phone alarm on the voice mode…some sarky-sounding tramp in her neutral yet incredibly irritating tone of voice relentlessly repeating those horrible earth-shattering words - "IT'S TIME TO GET UP, THE TIME NOW IS SEVEN THIRTY". I heard you the first sixty-six times. I slap the snooze button and slump back underneath - I'll be safe there for a while. My legs shake involuntarily and cold beads of sweat gather effortlessly around the centre of my forehead like a bunch of taxi drivers standing around outside the train station. Just enjoy the next ten minutes, I'll definitely get up at twenty to. I drift back into that place halfway between the panic of being awake and a relaxing slumber.

No sooner am I there than she starts to pipe up again. I hit the snooze again, I'll be ok to get up at 8, no need for a shave, I had one before I went out on the tiles on Saturday night. I let go of the cunning and original plan to call in sick and admit defeat at 5 past 8, heaving the covers off myself in a gallant move and head for the shower. Our shower has two settings: the 'Siberian Winter Special' and 'Burn Your Bollocks Off'. Given my tender condition I decide to brave the latter, quick splash of some of that nice strawberry smelling Herbal Essences crap around me and I'm out of there faster than you can say "You know when you've been tangoed", dry up, whip on my new brown suit and it's Auf Die Gappe, dash across the road and onto the bus. Just made it.

There's this total knobjockey called Steve something who I sort of know from college sitting on the inside of a 2-seater, trying to look cool with his poxy Ipod on, glancing up towards me with a stupid friendly look on his face as I walk by. No doubt the clown expects me to be just over the bloody moon to see him and snuggle in there and exchange boring anecdotes for the next twenty minutes. You can't just fold with these people because, like a cat that's given milk the first time, if I cave in now he'll be all over me like a bum on a BLT every time I slum it on this shitbucket the government calls public transport. I hit the gas and make for the back, giving him an old "You gotta love Mondays wa" as I go past.

Nice work if I do say so myself, the streets of San Francisco will be safe for another day at least. We get a nice run at the lights thank flock, and there's not as many selfish pesky pram-women hogging the aisles and taking about 46 days to dismount the thing as there usually is. So we hit the Mall at 5 to 9, which is sweet as a nut because it gives me time enough to caress my palate with a quarter-baked excuse for a sausage roll in the shop, washed down by extra-cold extra-energising Lucozade - God bless it, just what the doctor ordered, champs elysses mange chateau vous.


So allow me to introduce my good self folks. My name is Justin Barry, 24 years old, law graduate, apprentice solicitor with MurphyDaly Solicitors on the Mall, heterosexual male, intellect, part-time nice guy and post-modern impressionist piss-artist. I consider myself a people person. Most of my mildly endearing qualities you'll see as we go along. I'm allowing the public a glance at what makes me tick and basically what the big guy is all about.

I'm just about settled at the computer and ready to tuck into a nice hour of Footbal365 when I get a call from the bald eagle, El Arsehole himself, my boss James Daly Es-fucking-quire. "Could you pop into me for a moment Buddy", "Ok, no problem". Good morning to you too old boy, can I just have a medium dose of the condesention today please, if it's all the same to you. I push back my hair, tuck in the old shirt, fix my tie and hit myself with a double-dose of Airwaves in case he gets that distinctive twang of stale Beamish off my breath.

I'm not sure if I'm hungover or still a bit tipsy as I make cautiously towards his office, pen and pad in hand. You can't be too careful with the prick. He's second in command of this little People's Republic, but at the same time he's fairly powerful and tends to have his own way with things, kind of like Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide, except he's a bit older and looks nothing like Denzel.

"Bit of an emergency this morning Justin, Sharon (his secretary) is out with the flu, I'm up the walls with meetings, so need you to take all the calls for the day. Take some notes and give me the list before lunchtime". "OK". A couple of points of note here: a) I realize that Sharon is an integral cog in the wheel here, a vital component in the smooth-running of this operation, but if we need someone to yap on the blower all day long about the Brown Thomas shoe-sale and touch up their foundation at 10 minute intervals, I can easily call my sister or any one of about four thousand head-wreckers up in UCC to fill that gaping void, 2) I didn't go to college for four years to take calls from your missus whining about the gardener not showing up "to trim those bothersome hedges" and the little nipper throwing up his porridge all around your nice new rug, and d) flu my backside, use a little imagination Sharon you absolute muppet.

"Oh and one more thing, can you draft up a reply to this letter from John Macnamara about this personal injury case I'm working on. You'll need to read back through the file to catch up". He tosses me this chronically obese bursting-at-the-seems file for my amusement and to add to the fun, Macnamara's letter is about half a page shorter than the combined works of Shakespeare - I doth wonder what sayeth The Bullshitter of Venice on this fine morn. So on top of nursing a fairly severe headache following Super Sunday which went about seven pints further than planned, I've got to wade through that mountain of crap being interrupted every 2 seconds by greedy money-grabbing clients on the phone. At least I might not see too much of the Daly-meister for a while. Lunch can't come soon enough - a nice bowl of chicken soup for the patient followed by a solid ham sambo with all the trimmings methinks. As the boy Phil Collins would say, its just another day in paradise.


Just to give you an idea of the set-up of the firm, there's fifteen qualified solicitors, three apprentices and a few secretaries (its hard to keep track of them). While Daly is in the Denzel Washington role, the Gene Hackman of the piece is Billy "The Bollocks" Murphy (as he's affectionately known throughout most of the south Munster area). He's been top dog round these here parts since about 157 BC. His old man founded the place so I'm told. I just dread to think how old he is, seventy at least, wrinkled and haggered yet always somehow incredibly tanned. Even Daly feels like a little teeny-bopper compared to him and is just biding his time until the old codger either chokes on a tuna sandwich or finally gets fed up with ranting down the phone to unsuspecting victims and absolutely coining it in the process.

There's about another 8 or 9 old warhorses who've been here for about as long as Cliff Richard has been melting hearts and a few thirty-somethings, who you can just see getting older by the day with the sheer decay that surrounds them. Some of them have their own offices, the rest (myself included) sit at bloody open-plan desks. Most of the crowd are sound enough but some of them would just do your head in completely, so I try to keep a safe distance. My main problem is that I sit right next to Mary Ryan, a grumpy old mare who specializes in property law and generally making a nuisance of herself. The woman would give anadin a headache.

I try to keep it strictly monosyllabic with her because if you give her an inch she takes about three miles. She clutches onto those things she thinks she can make chat about like rugby, even though she knows about two players on the Irish team. "O'Driscoll's a brilliant player isn't he" she declared one time she overheard me talking about a match to somebody else. What incisive commentary from you Grandma, now if you don't mind, this is kind of a private chat. She gets her claws into you and before you know it, the muscles in your face go numb as you rapidly lose the will to live.

Thank God one of the other apprentices is a grand bit of gear, Emer O'Neill from the year ahead of me in college - great body, decent rack and a saucy minx at that. She's caught me checking out her finest asset, that booty, on numerous occasions. She said nothing either, loving it no doubt, so we all know where we stand on that one. The other bonus is that she's pretty handy at some of the old work as she's been here a year longer than myself, so I just keep her sweet and she's always handy to get me out of a spot of bother. The other apprentice is only a social-climbing suck-up, total degenerate bookworm, always trying to take the credit for all my good work around the place. Let's not waste any more time on him.

My buddy Kieran Roche calls me to "do lunch" (as he so coolly puts it) in Scotts and I'm not that hot on the idea, but hey, I haven't exactly got a million other offers flying in my direction. I head out at 5 to 1 and walk swiftly down there, keeping the head down in case I get caught for a chat with some acquaintance or other who I couldn't be bothered with. I get in the door and it's absolutely jammers, bogeys everywhere. I queue for my sandwich and do the old flick through the phone routine for fear of making eye-contact with someone. I get a lucky break as Stevie Murph comes in behind me in the queue so I can shoot the shit with him anyway.


We get a 4-seater upstairs and Timmy O'Connell comes over like an energizer-bunny, all chit-chat about some pleasantly plump bird he was with on Saturday night in The Classic. "We were texting each other lastnight, she's really cool". The cringe factor is flying off the scales with the guy but I'm there like "Good stuff out to you big man" - you absolute child, just give her the Mickey Thomas and be done with it.

I'm just a bit on edge too, I haven't got my Andrew Cole in over a month and I'm twitching like a Mexican at US customs with a bag of white stuff in my stomach. Really need to do some damage in the very near future. I don't even want to know about next weekend now though given that I'm fresh off the kind of two-day bender Robert Downey Jr. would be proud of.

I manage to drag myself back to the office anyway. Its so stuffy in the afternoons it really is a struggle to stay awake. I hit the net for a while anyway and I'm going solid till about 4 when I hit the Godfather of all afternoon slumps, so I brew up a big cup of coffee for myself out of pure necessity. I don't like doing it because it gives me the Bradley Pitts, and sure enough by half past I'm in there for a fairly major Donald Trump. I get home by 6 and just flop like a giant sack of spuds on the couch. I wrestle the suit off me a short while later, throw on the trackies and curl up in a ball for the night watching some quality old Seinfeld and Scrubs on Paramount. I treat myself to a nice Tom Hank for what it's worth and then all roads lead to the Baroness Thatcher. Out like a light as soon as my poor little head hits the pillow - oh the joys of life in the fast lane.

Conor Ward

More from Justin very soon...



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