DOOLEY DOOLEY DOO
It was a fairly uneventful trip although I have yet to experience what might be termed a perfect landing when flying EasyJet and the pilot was in fact sufficiently skilled to at least find the right airport, the wannabe London Luton...the name a triumph of marketing over any geographical factors that's for sure.
So, off to find the courtesy bus to the carhire centre and encounter the first evidence of the unease and incapability with which your average Brit deals with airports, the first staging post on the way to 'abroad'.
"Is this the bus for the Station?"
"Er...no. That would be the one over there waiting next to the sign that says, 'Station'"
There were at least six variants on the above before the bus drew away which did give me the opportunity of tanking up the depleted nicotine levels. Step out of any airport these days or indeed, out of any building and your first intake of breath is no longer fresh air but rather a fug of cigarette smoke. Strange when in the quest for something decent to breathe, you have to open a window and stick your head inside.
Anyway, off to Avis...sorry, no interestingly buttocked Mégane and have to settle for a brand new silver VW Golf instead which took no time at all to remind me that there is nothing like automotive equipment to force one into taking several steps back along the evolutionary ladder. I was just glancing around for something with which to twat it one when I finally discovered that the switch to open the boot was operated by the VW logo itself...the badge being fitted with a dampened spring system that must have put at least 100 of the folding on the list price. So...load 'er up and climb in.
It was a little like 10 steps forward and 5 back. I was, it is true, feeling slightly less neanderthal after figuring out the boot mechanism but, faced with the array of bright lights and cabin controls, I morphed effortlessly into Dee-Dee mode.
"Oooooooooooooooo. What does this button do?"
There was even one marked 'ESP'. I mean, what? Of course I pressed it, concentrated very hard on sparking up the ignition...fuck all. So much for German engineering.
I eventually got out of the car park having resolved, for safety reasons, not to even look at any of the LCDs...I mean, adept as I am at rolling cigarettes on the roll as it were, trying to decipher and understand merely half of what the thing was trying to tell me would have involved severe lane indiscipline at best and several pedestrian fatalities at worst.
Whoever decided that six fucking gears might just be a whizzo idea had obviously never driven through Luton on the A505 to Hitchin and Letchworth. Used, as I am, to changing gear both with the right hand and rarely, and once I had given up trying to change gear with the seat adjuster lever, it took me precisely not very long to develop RSI in the left arm. Obviously a marketing ploy to encourage up-grading to the automatic version and parting with even more of the folding.
Onto the A1 and a chance to play with the cruise control, something I had often wished for on my journeys across Europe back to the UK. Complete waste of time. Two questions naturally occur almost immediately on return to Blighty. The first, 'Where did all the drop-dead gorgeous women go?' is irrelevant here but the second, 'Where did all these fucking cars come from?' is germane to our discussion. I mean, I defy anyone to find a stretch of road anywhere in England where a constant speed is attainable and/or advisable and just what is the use of a cruise control that is de-activated not only by use of the clutch and brake but also the bleeding accelerator?
Oh well...home and the first Stella session catching up with my brother. We had both had the same idea and arrived home at different times, I with 8 Stellas and he with 8 Tesco bitters that I wouldn't brush my teeth with. Very much a case of each to his own that evening I can tell you.
I got to Sheffield about 11 o'clock on the Saturday and headed down to BDTBL and the Blades' Superstore, the name again an attempt to market-morph reality I'm afaid. I was under orders to purchase two Captain Blade dolls for two Frogs of my acqaint but was informed that they had sold out yet they might have some left at Streetwise on the Moor. Half way there and it occured to me that I had walked further this day than on the previous god knows how many but I soldiered on anyway. Past several open pubs it must be said but I was a man on a mission. Streetwise was happy to impart the news that the dolls were such slow movers that the line had been discontinued and none were to be had for love nor money. Bollocks. I was in such a bad mood that I completely forgot about the proposed ram-raid on Tongey's opticians and headed back to Shoreham Street where I consoled myself with a greasy chip butty before heading off for the hotel. Check in and tootle off out immediately for a trip to Tesco. Henderson's, only three bottles, sheeyit...check, Colman's...check, malt vinegar...check, Cheddar cheese...check, giant fuck-off block of Cadbury's Dairy Milk...only mildly amused to note the Made in France label...check, fajitas for lunch on the morrow...check. On the way back I stopped at a newsagent's on Wostenholme Road for more bottles of Henderson's, climbed back into the car and pulled away. There was a loud metallic clang from somewhere under the car and an almost complete lack of power. Stall. Bugger. By keeping the revs up at extraordinary levels, I managed to limp back to the hotel where I called Avis. The RAC chappie arrived promptly and we went for a wee drive. Naturally, everything was fine and we parted company. Hmmm.
Sheaf, Sheaf, Sheaf
Sunday began well. I woke up early, had a shower, a short walk for a paper and first into the dining room for breakfast...indeed a first, this will probably never happen again as long as I live. I made off with the entire stock of bacon before any other guests arrived...after all, this was going to be a very liquid day and I needed all the fat I could get. Then, "TAXI!" over to the Sheaf View which turned out to be closer than I remembered it being and led to my arriving there 10 minutes before it was due to open at 11. A white minivan pulled up and several and sundry Blades disembarked. One walked over to the pub door and read the opening hours, was bereft to read the 12:30 Sundays and turned back to impart the bad news. Having had the foresight to actually phone from Hungary before I left, it was for me the work of but a moment to pour oil on troubled waters and receive a cold can of Stella for my trouble. A contingent of Welsh Blades they were and it transpired that we had a common acqaintance, none other than the only man I have ever kissed full on the lips...no tongues though...Weggie himself. Small world. Anyway, first into the pub...not, as you will no doubt have supposed, a first in any way this time...and, being faced with as fine an array of strange and wonderful beers as you could wish for, asked the disturbingly young looking barmen for a recommendation. Quetzlcoatl it was then. They did rather venture out of their own particular field of expertise when they attempted to enlighten me about the differences of language and geography between the Aztecs and the Incas but I am sure they were grateful for the information that the Incas did in fact speak Cechua, a language quite unrelated to some of the 'click' languages found on another continent entirely. One always tries to help out, don't you know?
Anyroad, out to the beer garden and wait for the rest of the Euro-Blades. Hamburg actually arrived on the button at 11:30 but it was another half hour before we recognised each other...he going on the basis of my blogger profile picture, which he insisted was misleading in the extreme...obviously, I'm much better looking in the flesh...and I relying entirely on a rather grainy, hand held video of him performing the Greasy Chip Butty on a German train back from a St Pauli match. So, an eventual hail and well met to Mrs Hamburg, Ams, Mrs Ams, Ams Jr, Trigger, Hague, Mrs Hague, Barca, Froggy and, quite possibly several others who have unfortunately been Quetzlcoatled out of the memory banks. A meeting spoiled only by my half hour wait to get served at the bar. Despicably understaffed if I may say so.
Off to t'match and a pleasant surprise to see just how splendid the Lane is looking these days with the new corner stand...shame about the different cambers but an improvement nevertheless. Only a little out of place...I had inexplicably quite neglected to pack my Burberry baseball cap...I enjoyed the match immensely, the highlight for me being Kozzy's Robert Pires swan dive impersonation near the end and the chance to abuse Király Gábor in his native language did not go unwasted. Quite an optimistic attempt from the back of the kop but there you go.
This is not Derek Dooley
The retirement of the Chairman of the Football Club whose duties would seem to have been doddering and wittering on to an almost embarrassing degree was marked by a post match presentation during which said retiree was persuaded by that bastard son of a bastard 70s DJ, Gary Bastard Sinclair to regale those present with a rendition of Sinatra's 'New York, New York'. We will swiftly skim over this episode only pausing to remark that one wishing to perform in front of nigh on 28,000 people could at least have taken the trouble to learn the lyrics if not actually rehearse.
A promotional (in both senses) afterthought, the Blades were awarded a silver salver and medals by Coca Cola representatives which admittedly did provide some sort of logical conclusion to the celebrations which would otherwise have been unfocussed and maybe more anti-climactic than they already were. Warnock took the mic and once again just wouldn't let it lie, would he? Yet another reference to the doubters and glass half empty brigade and this on a day when all Blades were in a forgive and forget celebratory mood. Just deal with it, Neil. Okay?
A short walk to the Nelly and copious quantities of Chav Juice in the company of the clique or should that be the BOM squad? I shall name no names here but preserve internet alias anonymity to protect the guilty. Here's Raul looking inordinately pleased with himself at having found someone even shorter than he and the powers of Stones' bitter are best demonstrated by Keef's beaming grin even in the face of an impending triumph of hope over experience second marriage.
Big Mart was looking as Top Shop as ever which rather goes against reputation...one has great difficulty in imagining anything other than distance, projectile warfare when considering the tiresome bother of trying to remove blood spatter patterns from Stone Island threads. He did have a lovely cardy on though. Shame I didn't get a picture. Now then, Ped. There are several words that spring to mind when thinking of Ped, 'bollox' and 'bladdered' being two of the most common but I am always struck by how such a model of lugubriousness as he can be so much fun to be with. Imagine a six foot version of Droopy Dog with a ready wink, an awesome thirst and...naah, not even close.
There was a rather dimly remembered arm wrestling debate as both for and against Akinbiye massives squared off against each other. My opponent was Big Rods who, I can only assume, has a collection of oversized American custom cars, and I am sorry to say...on the basis of eye-witness evidence only as my memory tells me the opposite...I lost. To Rods, I can only say that thou art a short-arsed little runt and I'll get thee next time, ya bugger. Brownie...fount of some of the ropiest celebratory cigars I have ever tasted. In fact, if I relax my concentration for but a moment, I can still taste 'em. Yodelmeister. How anyone with such an above average liquid content can have a humour so dry is beyond my powers to explain. All I can say here is that he who drinks with the Sponge cannot expect to have more than a partial memory of the journey back to the hotel.
In fact, now that I come to think about it, there were among our number two company chairmen and a sales director. One can only hope that we're all thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.
Oh, and by the way, the Golf switched into Limp Home Mode on the way back from Sheffield which involved a trip to Lincoln in a tow truck and a brand spanking new Peugeot 407. Yummy.
I also set a new record of 2 hours exactly from Budapest to Nagykanizsa which represents an average speed of over 100 kph. Hire cars. Who needs 'em?
We are Premier League, say...