Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its sixth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which started on Monday and runs till Saturday week. Called Droid, this story is about a boy who designs a robot, and was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. You can catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie, where you can also hear a podcast of the story. In the fourth episode, Lucca shows off his robot on TV.
The series is read by Anna O'Donoghue. Listen here...
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Antenna is not impressed by Lucca’s robot.
“Looks like those weird yokes you’d see on one of them rudie shows on Channel 4,” he says, looking Grim up and down.
Lucca’s mother, Aileen McNally, is even less thrilled.
“What did you use to make that?” she asks accusingly.
“Bits and pieces,” says Lucca. “Grim knows code. He can speak three languages, like.”
“Bits and pieces,” says Aileen thoughtfully.
CC organises an interview with The Echo. “It’ll be great publicity for UCC,” he tells Howard O’Dwyer, the university’s president. Howard O’Dwyer holds his chin in his hand and stares at CC. He stares at the picture of Lucca and Grim. He can’t imagine the UCC Feminism Society taking kindly to this.
“Will it?” says Howard.
Later on, CC talks to Maureen while she’s watching EastEnders.
“One of my students,” he tells her, “is a genius.”
Maureen looks vacant. “Where did he go to school?”
“I’m telling you, Maureen, he’s a nobody! Never went to private school. Lives up in that Knocknaheeny area… and he’s one of the most extraordinary engineers I’ve ever come across.”
CC begins to make wild gestures and splutter wetly.
“His robot — the Grim thing — is not just a robot, it’s a real, complete person. A superhuman! Lucca Grimes has begun a journey to becoming one of the most famous people in the world, and Maureen…”
He grins manically.
“I’m going to be a part of it. I participated.”
“What’s he like in lectures?” asks Maureen.
“Oh, he’s never there,” says CC. “But that’s not the point.”His phone rings. “We’re getting this young man’s story out there,” says CC, sweeping out of the room. “And letting everyone know this was my student. Big things are coming, Maureen!”
Trinny is watching The Late Late Show. It’s the first time he’s ever sat and watched it. The presenter introduces Lucca Grimes and his robot, Grim McNally. Trinny’s phone is cupped between his hands and lighting up with flurries of text messages. He sends brisk replies with patters of his thumb. The incoming texts are from an over-excited Hunter, who is also watching from his apartment in Ballyfermot.
The presenter is keen and inquisitive. Lucca slouches back with his legs spread apart. The robot sits upright, looking more artificial than ever now that he’s in a sitting position next to a human. It looks like someone has bent him into place. Lucca is speaking.
“Yeah, he’s named after me and my mam.”
Trinny sends a message, You seeing this?
Sex Pistols reject Hunter replies.
Trinny: This guy is a sham
Hunter: This f**ker wouldn’t remember his own name.
The presenter tells Lucca he makes a great role model for the young people of Ireland. He then asks Lucca about his experience at UCC. Trinny’s muscles tighten.
Off the cliff you go Hunter texts.
The presenter grills Lucca further about his robot.
“I named him Grim McNally,” says Lucca scratching the lightning bolt shaved into the side of his hair, “Grim as in Grimes after me and McNally after my mam’s surname.”
“And you grew up in Hollyhill, is that right?”
“Yeah,” Lucca confirms.
“What the f**k,” Trinny whispers.
“Could we have a conversation with Grim?” the presenter asks, leaning forward.
“Sure, yeah.” Lucca pats Grim on the shoulder.
“He wants to talk to you, Grim!”
A burst of pop-ups from Hunter.
That guy is a puppet for someone.
Reckon CC is behind this
Hunter: Colin Cassidy head of AR @ UCC
Hunter insets a link to CC’s academic profile. Trinny can’t bring himself to give any part of the UCC website any additional traffic.
You know him? Hunter texts.
Trinny remembers Colin Cassidy well. They’d met at a conference and spoken about the Advanced Robotics Masters.
“Of course,” Trinny had said to CC as they were discussing news coverage of their universities, “Trinity College has had a lot to live up to from all the media attention they’ve received.”
“Gay Byrne’s finest moment,” said CC, smiling. “May he rest in peace.”
“UCC wouldn’t have been right for me,” said Trinny.
“It was good enough for Graham Norton and Cillian Murphy, wasn’t it?”
“No, it wasn’t.” said Trinny, walking away. “And that’s why they’re famous.”
Trinny bites his nails as he stares at the screen. Grim begins to speak.
Hunter texts, Holy s**t. He follows up with a smiley face emoji.
Trinny glances at his phone. He doesn’t smile.
“I would kill,” Trinny murmurs, “for that robot.”