One minute Jimmy Rabbitte was 21. He was the manager of a band called The Commitments,
although they’d just broken up. He’d got over that shock and was just about ready to start a new
band. He’d learnt from the Commitments experience: never let a bollix be your singer, even if he
can sing; and never let your elderly trumpet player ride all, some or even one of the group’s backing
vocalists. Armed with this wisdom, he’d been gearing himself up, listening to new sounds, all set to
knock U2 off their fuckin’ perch.
The next minute he was 48 and he had bowel cancer.
How the fuck did that happen?
The author, Jimmy’s creator, Doyle, heard the word ‘recession’ on the radio one morning a few years
back, and decided to bring Jimmy back. Or, so he’s telling anyone who’ll listen.
Now, if Jimmy was doing one of those word association tests and the chap at the other side of the
desk said, ‘Jimmy’, one of the last words Jimmy would think of would be ‘recession’. ‘Rabbitte’, his
surname, would probably be the first word he’d grab. Or maybe ‘stop’ – because ‘Jimmy, stop!’ was
the thing he heard most often when he was a kid. But the point was, he’d have gone through most
of the English language and a fair bit of Irish and Swahili before he’d have thought of ‘recession’.
But your man says he heard ‘recession’ being used on the radio back in 2009, some report about the
state of the Irish economy, accompanied by a Eurythmics song. And it annoyed him. Not the song
- he likes the Eurythmics. But the use of the song, to bring the listener back to the 1980s, when
Ireland was in a recession so long and deep that no one knew it was a recession. The nostalgia -
that was what annoyed him. The fuckin’ glee. (He’s a bit of a hypocrite, Doyle, because he’s
listening to The Human League while he’s tapping out this shite.)
So anyway, Doyle began to think about Jimmy and his family for the first time in years. He
wondered how they’d be coping in this new recession, because he’d invented them in the middle of
the last one – the Eurythmics one.
So, there you go. Jimmy Rabbitte is 48 and he’s in a new book called The Guts. He has a wife and
four kids. And the funny thing is, it isn’t really a shock. He looks at them and he knows them,
everything about them; he loves them. (His wife’s gorgeous, by the way; some of you probably
want to know that.) Even the cancer – it isn’t a shock. He knows he has cancer in the first chapter,
when he’s telling his Da about it.
-Could be worse.
-So they say? said Jimmy.
-The doctors an’ tha’. The specialists. The team.
-What colour are their jerseys?
The only real shock is the football. Back in the Commitments days Liverpool, Jimmy’s team, were
the best club in England, probably the world. But now they’re shite. Nothing could have prepared
him for that.