The Secret Tradesman Confesses To Squeaky Floor In Leaders Debate Election
Kelly Ohlmus
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The Secret Tradesman Confesses To Squeaky Floor In Leaders Debate Election

I’m out hanging Election posters with Jimmy for the Party That Cannot Be Named. Really, it can’t.

To be fair, Election 2016 has opened a few doors. Ever since I got into building modular homes it seems like I’m in some sort of political circle of trust - although to be fair, you couldn't actually trust anyone in it.

I got the call a week ago. An anonymous number came up my blower. I normally don’t answer them, but I just did for this one. There’s a heavy accent on the other end.

‘This Joe?”

“The one and only” I go.  

“Dead on. I have a job for yah. I represent ******** and need yuu to hang some posters. Meit me in the Read cow car park at 8pm. Come aloine.”

I don’t know why I did now.

I pull into the car park in my Hi-Arse van and a car over the far side flashes its lights at me twice. I pull up beside it. From the driver's side a bald lad about the size of a  46A bus - except with an even bigger boot – gets out and opens my door. It’s like there’s an eclipse and I’m definitely gonna need my shock absorbers checked the way the van lurches to one side as he sits beside me.

“Yuu Joe” he goes.

 “ Er, yeah”

“ Yuu aloone ?”

I look around. I’m sh*tting myself. “Er, Yeah”

“Goood.” He goes, smirking at me. “We have 10,000 posters. Haang them all over South Dublin. We’ll deposit 10 graand into yuur bank account when its done. Nay messin. Nay questions?”  

I don’t.

Then he hands me a package in a brown paper bag.

“Ooh, and if you come across any opposition, don’t’ be ‘fraid to use this” he goes.

I’m pretty sure I’m having a seizure. I must go white too because he starts howling with laughter as he gets out of the van.

I wait a full 10 minutes after his car rolls out before I can even look at the bag. I steady my fingers and open it. Permanent Markers! About 10 of them, with lots of different colours. I pull myself together, smile at a job well done and head home for a good kip.

So here we are flying through the posters. Me up on a ladder banging up the posters on every lamp post I can find. Jimmy up another one drawing moustaches, lamb chops and other stuff in varying colours on the other posters.

Just then the phone rings. It’s Anonymous, but I know who it is.

"Joe, yuu're needed. Saime as before". I nearly fall off the ladder. If you'd met him you'd understand.

We're in the car park. Alone. "I heair you're a handy won on the tools" he goes, looking into my eyes like he knows something.

I'm staring at my feet now.

"Er, yeah. I mean, I'm a chippie and that. Never had a disappointed customer." Then I look at him and decide to correct myself "well not one for a while nanyways"

"I have a job. Listen gooid, yuu don't want to mess this up"

He proceeds to tell me that they have an inside man in RTE and have the opportunity to build the set for the last leader's debate. He wants me to build it. He produces a set of plans with all the measurements and the speaker's podiums clearly marked.

"Can yuu read plans, Joe"

"Eh, yeah" I still don't know his name, "second nature. Like a big Jigsaw"

I'm probably talking too much. I can see the doubt in his eyes.

"Heirre" he goes. It a brown paper bag. Bigger this time. Instinctively I put it to my ear to check if it's ticking.

 He's confused for a minute, then he breaks his hole laughing. In my face, like.

"Jasus Joey, yuur some muppet" he howls." What'ya think we're gonna do, bloow up RTE. Feic saikes, this is a bit of fun, that's all. Open the baag"

I do. I'd describe the contents as a squeaky toy. A monkey to be fair. I give it a squeeze.

"Ooh Ooh Oooh Eee Eee Eee Aah Aah Aaah” it goes. Pretty loud too.

"Gimme the plaans" he's all serious now. He points to one of the speakers podiums in the middle.

"Put it under the fluor of that one. It's the Taoiseach’s. I want it so when he starts raantin and gesticulating, the monkeiy gets hearrd".

I'm speechless.

"You can go now, Jooey. Saime as before."

 I climb out of the car.

"Oh Jooey" he goes. "2 things."

" First, we never had this conversation. Second, don't feic it up. I don’t want to have to explain any Sitcheayshuns"


I'm in RTE the next day. I bring Jimmy and, to be honest, with all the celebs around he's about as productive as a dehumidifier in the west of Ireland. We're working off the plans, and making good progress with the floor.

"Here, Jimmy" I go "hop off to the canteen and get us a cuppa will ya?"

"No bother Joe. I saw that Miriam lass heading that way earlier. Beautiful and loaded apparently. So I might be a while"

He was always full of it but, to be fair, I don’t want him getting involved in what I do next.

I take the squeaky toy slowly out of my toolbox. I look around to check if anyone's watching. With the coast clear, I carefully place the toy into the bare floor under the Taoiseach’s podium. Then I click the wooden floor into place over it. It's a tight fit but it looks ok. I can't really test it for fear of getting caught.

The rest of the job goes quickly. I even head off early to visit a potential customer. I leave Jimmy to clean up.


We're in the boozer on the night of the debate. We don't normally head out on a Monday, but I've told the lads we’re celebrating my work being on national TV. I need the company for this. Of course, Damo's loves being out for the debate so he can show off his politics and that. The complete sap.

Miriam kicks it off on RTE. Jimmy's phone is out showing everyone his selfies with herself and Claire Byrne in the canteen. Fair play to her.

Then the camera pans to the Taoiseach. I'm crapping myself and kind of excited at the same time?

He starts slowly. His hands are motionless. No sound. Then he gets onto health. The hands start going in an apology. Still nothing. Then Michael Martin kicks in with a barbed comment and the hands are literally flailing now. But no monkey noise. I begin to panic.

"What's that noise?" goes Damo. I nearly jump over the table to him.

"Did you hear it Damo?" I shout. "What did it sound like, a monkey yeah?"

Damo looks scared. "Eh, no Joe, calm down. Just a bit of a squeak or something."

I'm apoplectic now. A feicin squeak? I don't understand. I listen closely and there it is. Not a monkey's wail, but a faint irritating squeak.

"Sounds like the sets squeaking, lads” Damo goes. "Shoddy workmanship on the national broadcaster, hate that! " all smug-like.

I look at Jimmy. He's staring at his shoes.

"What did you do Jimmy? What happened to my monkey..."

Jimmy obviously didn't hear the last bit. "Eh Joe, not my fault. The boards under one of the podiums had a bulge in it. So I used a few nails to fix it. It was like I punctured something at first but then it sat ok. Was just a bit uneven and squeaky like...."

I'm sat there with the faint squeak from the TV bouncing around with the thoughts in my head. I’m trying to get my ducks in a row, but the squeak is so irritating it’s hard.

Then the phone rings. Anonymous. I let it ring for a bit and then answer. No choice really.

"Joe, saime as before. Come aloine"


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