(I feel like this quote was coined by someone that never drove in LA during rush hour.)
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL DAY
Up to this point, most of my thoughts on this trip have been spent on a seeming irrelevance to most of you.
Football/Soccer/that absurd game that doesn’t have 100 commercial breaks.
Liverpool football club is a major part of the rollercoaster I’m strapped to and we have somehow blasted our way to the final of the biggest game in world football (World Cup be damned).
I have been a plastic scouser since a young lad, when my dreams were a bit more extravagant than a please just get me through today, and yes, nothing says fragile personality more than relying on 11 overpaid men in shorts to give one emotional satisfaction but so be it. Today is the day. And I’m feeling almost relaxed. Most likely because I’ve spent the last month telling myself we don’t stand a chance against the richest and most successful club in the world: Real Madrid, who were notoriously bankrolled by Franco and I’m pretty sure Satan himself (or herself).
(3 ghastly hours later)
Well, that didn’t go according to plan, unless the plan was for everything that could go wrong to go wrong. I don’t think I need to say much here. Our German goalkeeper made some of the worst errors ever concocted in a football match, let alone in a professional game, and strongly pissed all over my ‘they’re efficient’ chips.
There’s always one isn’t there.
I actually feel pity for him, and some concern over the backlash he’s going to get, rather than any anger. The anger is solely directed to a certain Madrid player, called Sergio Ramos, who broke the wonderful Mo Salah’s shoulder. Ending his season, and ours, and most likely Egypt’s hopes at the world cup, with a judo move that [insert famous judo person] would have been proud of.
(edit: he apparently also concussed our hapless goalkeeper with a rather sly forearm smash which might have contributed to his child disowning performance. Germany, I’m sorry for doubting you.)
I don’t think he needed reminding, but I felt it was worth tweeting to him about it.
Special mention should go to the lady from the wedding party who showed up wasted at the bar in the final few minutes to tell me it’s just a game, and that having cancer is far worse.
THE WEDDING DAY
It was finally here.
The day of the wedding.
After months of deliberating as to whether it was a sensible thing to go half way round the world for a friend’s wedding, when the budget is on shoestring status, and having had my voicemail, in which I tested the waters for a possible no show not just rebuffed but apparently saved and replayed whenever the bride and groom felt like they needed a laugh (really can’t remember exactly what I said but I guess my despair wrapped in politeness didn’t elicit the response I was after), it was time to dust off my suit and get my face on (the I’m friendly and like social events one).
The groom, a particularly thoughtful fella, had booked a bus for those who had previously driven in Italy and thought, no thanks I’d rather eat my own foot than go through that hell again. Which was quite a few of us it seems.
His faith in the ability of my friends and I making the bus meant that we were given a departure time so premature the bus driver would probably still be at home enjoying his breakfast, and having his second argument of the day with his mother about when he’s finally going to move out.
We however knew that missing this bus was not really a suitable option, especially considering the millions of miles we had already travelled by this point and so we ignored our natural inclinations and showed up early. We expertly google mapped our way to the pick up spot, on the outskirts of Como, and began waiting patiently for the bus to arrive.
Other wedding attendees, who had spied our sharply dressed attire and decided we were one of them, slowly began to join us. Hands were shaken and instantly forgotten names exchanged.
After a good while of painfully sober introductory chatter, people slowly begun to utter some concerns about where this bus was, as we were now running a little behind.
When anxiety hit a level of defcon 2 and reached the point of “shit, are we even going to make this wedding?” some bright spark walked around the corner and discovered a bus, with a driver who was utterly bemused by a lack of people on board.
It wasn’t a time to point fingers and lay blame. We were going to make it. Maybe cutting it a little fine, but there wasn’t going to be a kick in the balls from the groom for ruining the biggest day of his life (he’s a Juventus fan and was too young to appreciate their victorious Champions League run in 1996).
However, it was legitimately the bus drivers first day on the job and he hadn’t come across a gear system like this before. At one point we stopped for full ten minutes while he tried to get it back into first gear. From then on he didn’t want to come to a halt again, so he became Sandra Bullock for the rest of the way there. Red lights were managed perfectly. And by perfectly, I mean completely ignored.
Eventually we reached our destination.
Just not the right destination.
We were dropped off at a cemetery no less, and a good mile or so from the venue. The bus driver was refusing to go any further as he felt the road was too narrow.
Judging from my experiences so far, he must be the only person in this country who has been daunted by such a dilemma.
At this point the ceremony has been delayed 45 minutes as the bus held pretty well much the entire wedding party, sans the sensible few who had rented a car. Taxis it had to be. What fun.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a collection of family members and rental car drivers who were red in the face and hot under the collar. It was a gloriously sunny day and there had been no shade for these punctual lot to sit under for the past hour. We tried to stem the tide of hatred towards us with apologetic facial grimaces and overly elaborate silent sorries, and found our seats.
The ceremony could finally begin.
It must have been the sound guy’s first day on the job too. He was obviously trying his best, but we crackled and popped our way through the proceedings. The speeches were lovely though. A lot wasn’t in english but judging by the tears of people who had learnt more than just sodding one language, they went down very well.
It was also a quick ceremony. None of this let’s spend an hour singing hymns and listening to creepy vicars talk about love. It was delightful, poignant and….err…efficient.
Weddings are a time for reflection. A time to evaluate one’s life choices. Or lack thereof. And then channel all that disappointment into drinking yourselves stupid. Which is what most of us did.
I’m far too old to take any pride in how much I might have drunk last night so I’m not going to detail it. But it was a lot, and it varied tremendously. If there are any hangover Gods out there, please let yourselves be known and what animal/child I have to sacrifice in your honour. I shall do your bidding.
Things I remember..
- Knocking over someone’s child by accidentally elbowing his head as I excitedly greeted a friend. He didn’t cry, to my astonishment, which I can’t thank the heavens enough for. Nothing declares you’re a shitty human more to a group of people than making a little child cry. Even if it’s a life lesson he needs to learn (stay away from the drunkards).
- Responding to someone telling me they were gay with an over-zealous fist pump and a cry to the heavens of how much I adore gay men. It sounded like a great thing to share in my head but it of course it came across as incredibly patronising. I did apologise later in the evening but couldn’t help myself and got back into it again.
- An album from a band that played every night for a number of years at the show Sleep No More, where I worked for a very long time, was the brides choice for the music. Post Modern Jukebox. I love them to bits and greatly enjoyed my time there, but memories of making cocktails to non tipping tourists certainly added fuel to the drink to forget protocol.
- Reaching an unsettling place of being too drunk to properly move my limbs but too paranoid not to dance. There’s a time and a place to be a miserable sod, and miss out on the collective fun by sitting on the sidelines, but a wedding is certainly not one.
- Finding a bakery that was strangely open at 3am and eating a lot of pizza and chocolate croissants. I thought this would prevent a hangover. I was wrong.
I have tried hair of the dog (an aperol spritz that made things worse), throwing up, deep breaths, and some charcoal tablets my friend has given me (edit: sometimes it’s worth listening to people. I ignored his advice to only have one and took 5 of them. It’s legitimately been over half a week and I still haven’t felt any urge to do a number 2) and nothing has improved things. My train ride later should be interesting.
The only bright spark is that my suffering is mine and mine alone. Unlike my friend, who pushed it too far last night and vomited over himself and quite a lot of the bus on the drive back from the wedding. Schadenfreude flowed happily through my veins when this happened but he’s now feeling right as rain. Lucky guy.
My rule of thumb with booze is that if you go to bed with it, you’re married to it.
No parting ways now. This isn’t Vegas, and you ain’t Britney bitch. Sadly.