Rabbitte Guts: 6
Jimmy Rabbitte can’t get his head around it.
He’d spent most of the last twenty-five years in the spare room in the back of Doyle’s head. He was 21, kind of frozen, dormant. He was in there with Paddy Clarke; and he’s an insufferable little bollix, that fella.
Next thing, Jimmy was brought out of the spare room and thrown into a brand new book, The Guts. He was middle-aged, with teenage kids, grey hair and a dollop of cancer.
But – and this is the bit that’s keeping him awake – at the exact same time, he’s gone back to being young Jimmy Rabbitte and he’s forming The Commitments again. He’s managing the band, he’s watching them play and loving it while, at the same time, in The Guts, he’s remembering how they broke up years ago and he’s meeting Outspan Foster, the guitarist, for the first time in twenty years.
This – the two lives of Jimmy Rabbitte – is happening because Doyle has written the script for a stage musical version of The Commitments. He did a lot of the rewrites while he was writing The Guts. It was a killer. Young Jimmy leaked into middle-aged Jimmy and left him bollixed by lunchtime. Doyle would be thinking about middle-aged Jimmy’s chemotherapy, taking notes, and the next thing he’d be typing away, sending Commitments Jimmy flying around the stage, putting the band together. Middle-aged Jimmy still loves soul but it isn’t really ideal chemotherapy music.
It’s two full time jobs, being a fictional character.
It’s strange too, living again in a time before mobile phones. Jimmy has to charge all over the stage, actually talking to people instead of just texting. It’s a pain in the hole.
And that’s humiliating as well, the fact that Commitments Jimmy can boot it across vast deserts of stage floor, while the Guts Jimmy can’t bend down to pick up a tea towel without grunting like he’s being ridden by an epileptic elephant.
It’s weird too, already knowing how The Commitments broke up when he’s going through the auditions that brought them together and he’s supposed to be thinking they’re going to be bigger than The Beatles. And he does – he gives it the full Jimmy.
But it’s hard. Because middle-aged Jimmy is there, calling him a gobshite. And that makes middle-aged Jimmy feel bad, because he wants to encourage the young Jimmy, not knock him down.
And that’s the big problem. Middle-aged Jimmy keeps falling into the trap of thinking that young Jimmy is his son. And young Jimmy looks at middle-aged Jimmy and sees his Da, and realises it’s himself in the future – seven or eight times a day. They’re fucking each other up.
That’s not true. It’s not true at all.
But it is.
It is and it isn’t.
Jimmy reckons it rained more in Ireland back then too, in the 1980s. He’d forgotten that. But that’s another thing. Kids don’t care about rain – coats and colds and common sense. Younger Jimmy couldn’t give a shite about the rain and his older self wants to run after him with his coat – and tell him he loves him.
But he can’t.
It’s all a bit mad.