Rabbitte Guts 3:
Jimmy Rabbitte had never been to a book launch. He’d been in a fair few books but no one ever thought about inviting him to one of the launches.
Because he was fictional.
But anyway. The Commitments launch, back in 1987, was legendary. It had the look of a legend while it was still on.
And there was a reason for that: free drink.
Or, at least Doyle thought it was free.
But anyway. The Commitments was self-published. Back in the days when he had hair and a teacher’s jacket, he couldn’t find a publisher. So one day he said, ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.’ His first-year English class didn’t really know what he meant but, still, they cheered.
Anyway. He got a bank loan – Jimmy had no idea how many times he’d had to listen to this shite – and himself and his friend, John Sutton, published the thing. Some of Doyle’s students posed as the band on the cover. (Hello, Mick, Jimmy, Enda, Darren, Louise, Caroline, Lorraine, Ken, Kevin, Tucker, and Michael. Hope middle-age is treating you well.)
Anyway. The launch. It was in – swear to God – Christchurch Cathedral. Or, in the old Synod Hall that had been converted into a nite club. (This was in 1987, so ‘night’ was spelt ‘nite’.) On the day of the launch, Doyle was told that a famous brewery up the river was sponsoring the launch. Doyle announced this to the crowd, became an instant hero, and found out the next day that it wasn’t true.
The drink cost more than the printing.
But still, it was a great night. So Jimmy had heard again and again over the years.
Some people had never made it home.
One man finally got home in late 1995, and discovered that his wife had married his brother while he’d been at the Commitments launch. She’d thought he was dead – she said. There was no texting back then, and he hadn’t the change for a payphone, to tell her he’d be a bit late home from the launch – 8 years.
Anyway. The latest launch, for the new book, The Guts, was a quieter affair.
Although it wasn’t exactly quiet. It was upstairs in a well-known Dublin pub called Doheny and Nesbith’s. It’s well known because all the politicians and their cronies drink in there.
In fact, a few weeks before the Guts launch, Pat Rabbitte – no relation – the Minister for Communications and Pomposity, was attacked in Doheny and Nesbith’s by a small horde of Republican head-bangers called Eirigi.
Doyle thought this was funny. Not because he supported Eirigi. Far from. But because that was how he came up with Jimmy’s surname back in 1986, when he was just starting to write The Commitments. He was experimenting with names and he thought of Pat Rabbitte, then a member of the Worker’s Party and beginning to make a name for himself.
Doyle liked the name. He liked the rhythm of ‘Jimmy’ and ‘Rabbitte’ together. He checked the Dublin area phone book and found a full column of Rabbittes. That was enough for him.
So. Jimmy Rabbitte was born.
It killed Jimmy, having to read that sentence. He had a mother and a father but, apparently, they were fictional as well.