Monday, May 26, 2008

A hooligan’s game…

Watched by gentlemen. And now, me and Hannah.

Mr Hannah, aka Patrick Doyle, invited us to the live final of the Heineken Cup Final between Munster (Muuuunstar!) and Toolouse. I was pretty excited about charming Patrick with my opening line of ‘so Patrick, who do you think is going Toolouse?’ but I think I built it up in my head too much as it took two bottles of wine and half of the game (by which time they were, in fact, losing) for me to find the courage.

The last time I sat in a stadium this big and witnessed a spectacle this spectacular was the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Sydney 2000. Actually, I did see Pink Floyd play at Earl’s Court last year, but my brother had force fed me a very large and toxic marijuana cigarette beforehand so all I remember is being slightly sleepy and wondering why there were so many bright lights on the dark side of the moon. Couldn’t someone turn them down a bit so I could have a snooze?

But this, like the Olympics, was amazing. The atmosphere was warm and contagious. I can count the things I know about rugby on one hand but it didn’t matter. The important thing was how much fun Hannah and I had from start to finish.

Our train to Cardiff was packed and we ended up sitting with some OAP rugby fans who kindly told us where the best places were to go shopping. They all had lovely little Irish accents and to be sure, I wanted one too. Hannah thought the one I sat next to was a bit of a dish but he reminded me of that pregnant guy in America.

Settling down to watch the game, I watched as a medic ran on to massage a player’s upper thigh. With my eye sight, from my seat, it looked a bit like he was…you know… and so I said to Hannah. It seems to be my curse that I accidentally swear in front of my friend’s fathers, when all I really want to do is impress them.

‘What?’ asked Patrick after I’d pointed out the medic giving the player a hand job.


But lo! This father wasn’t schooled at the same stuffy Muslim school as my Switzerland friend’s, so when Hannah repeated my observation, he laughed whole heartedly and slapped his thigh. Phew. Still room to charm him. Still room for my Tooloose pun.

As our journey to Cardiff was so uneventful I thought I’d be able to write a blog where I don’t have to rant about the downfalls of our public transport system.

But then we tried to get home. Maybe, after a Cup Final, they hadn’t expected 40,000 people to try and get on one three-carriaged train. Maybe they're all just idiots. We stood outside the station for about 7 hours and when we were finally let on a train, it took us to the wrong station.

From there, we had to get a bus, as did 40,000 other people. But I managed to squeeze on to one bus and I saw Hannah being eclipsed by burlier, bigger people left behind.

I was one of the last people to board and I turned back to grab her from the sea of hands below. So did my nemesis, some pointless and annoying human being who decided she wanted to be the last to board too.

‘We’ve only got room for one more!’ shouted the driver. I felt like I was on the last safety boat for the Titanic. All those left behind will drown in a sea of doom! Only room for one more!

‘Let my girlfriend on! I’m not going without Hannah!’ I screamed.

‘Let my boyfriend on!’ shouted boring face. Only one of us can win a seat for our other half. She is bigger than me and the driver looks like he’s going to have a small heart attack.

I was just about to give up and step off the bus when I heard chanting coming from inside the bus.

No, not ‘We love Munster’ but ‘WE WANT HANNAH!’ over and over again. The bus wanted Hannah! In slow motion, the other girl was ousted from the steps as I leant forward and grabbed Hannah from the sea of desperates who’d have to wait for the next bus, to the whoops, roars and cheers of a bus full of people who’d decided Hannah was the Chosen One.


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