Wednesday, 10 October 2007

First Class Part 2


So, spent several minutes attempting to place an AVI file into yesterday's post - you know, "262Kb of 20MB uploaded" etc, etc. Finding the file was in itself no mean feat as AVI files (my old camera used to save video in MPEG format, sob) have a kind of semi-existence on a Mac anyway, but find it I did and then lost myself in reveries of dial-up data transfer while I made some crumpets, went to the toilet and kept an eye on the blue bar crawling across the bottom of the screen. I was slightly perturbed by the ! in a triangle and the message saying "Unable to contact Please check your connection by clicking here." but I didn't want to move away from the page in case I lost that which had already passed through the intarpipes, so I persevered to the end.

"20MB of 20MB uploaded" it said at last. But the blue bar kept pulsing away. How long is 5 seconds in the broadband age? It is an eternity, that's how long. Nothing happened, and the window saying "Your video will be displayed here" was nothing more than an object in Powerpoint, complete with grab handles at the corners. I deleted it.

On with the show

Beswick.  City fan

After The Only One I Know, Roll With It came on and the ground was starting to fill up, with the exception of the upper tier of the away section. (I thought they were supposed to be BIG footy fans?) Kept my eye out for the eye-catchers, watched Dunney and Micah warming up, Petrov pinging it about and the almighty Elano stretching. I was sitting in the family stand, but had no fear of repeating some of my previous foul mouthed rants during the reign of Keegan as I had a good feeling about us.

Holidays in the rain

Boro's lineup wasn't exactly the most intimidating either. Who the fuck is Craddock? And I've just noticed that the BBC report on the match doesn't mention Tuncay in the Boro lineup. He was their most annoying, and most effective player. Very strange.

Goalmouth action

Steve Bennett was a total wanker and let 4 or 5 bad tackles by Boro go unpunished. They couldn't live with us in the first half and either shat themselves (our first goal a classic example) or hacked our players down every time we broke forward. We looked a bit shaky (Joe Hart) and a little lacking in energy (Micah) but Boro rarely threatened. And they don't have an Elano in their side like we do. His first was an absolute belter and the ground rocked when it flew in.

Half time and no balti pies left, so I unwisely shovelled the scalding grey mush of a cheese & onion in before going back up. Vile.

Second half we were at the City end, and not expecting to see much action. I had a perfect view of Elano's brilliantly taken free kick sailing in though and proceeded to do the arms aloft Blue Moon.

Three nil and that was Boro fucked, despite Tuncay's badgering and moaning. Woodgate was solid in defence for them and I feel we would have had more if he hadn't have been playing. He got booked though. Ha! City fell asleep at the end, with large numbers of the fans having already left, and Hutchison got a consolation back for the Teesiders, but on the whole it was a great day at the office. It says a lot for how far we've come that I heard people saying they were disappointed we hadn't kept a clean sheet, and that we hadn't played as well as we did against Newcastle. Last season we would have killed for a home performance like that.

We wound our way back through the post-apocalyptic surroundings to the car and there was the little ginger girl, this time on a bike, as we approached. She wasn't on the ball like City but, and didn't approach us for the promised quid. "If she ain't gonna ask," said our Manc driver, "Then I certainly am not going to fork out. Let's go!" and we fought our way through the horrendous traffic back to Piccadilly.

It was to be a long journey, but if I had known quite how long, I wouldn't have been anything like as relaxed as I took my seat in First Class and proceeded to read my King of The Kippax, waiting for the optimum moment to trek down to the buffet (or 'shop' as they insist on calling it these days) for a g&t and a packet of Big Eat cheese & onion. The carriages down in steerage were very crowded, and even First Class was almost full by the time we reached Birmingham New Street. I gave up any hope of getting some kip when someone sat in the seat opposite me, but my troubles were just beginning.

At Birmingham International, another large crowd - off the planes - got on, most notably a Paul O'Grady clone (when I say clone, I mean lookalike, 'mk?) who sat on the floor of the vestibule and began to yell into his mobile. Every time the doors opened, I would catch a snippet of what he was saying ("Look at me, just got off a first class flight, and I'm sitting in a fuckin' corridor!") and he seemed to be more or less repeating the same story.

Ten minutes out of B'ham International, the train ground to a halt and our guard informed us that there had been signal problems, that there were four trains ahead of us and that there would be some delays. Was he ever right! Two sodding hours we were stuck, inching forward every 15 minutes. Paul O'Grady kept telling different people his story:

"Table for two please."

"The entry charge is 6 Euros," (in a very good Dutch accent) "You go around the side, and we will refund the money, but you must take off your clothes... It was a fucking sex party! Jesus Christ! Table for two please. Take off your clothes! Can you believe it?" This went on for the entire rest of the journey - 4 hours, ladies and gentlemen, 4 HOURS! - in various forms and to various people. I must admit to finding it amusing the first couple of times - he seemed like a comedian - but he could have flown from Amsterdam without the help of an aeroplane and seemed unaware (unless he was extremely narcissistic and thought that we all wanted to hear his story again and again and again) that he was repeating himself.

After about an hour, I could smell cigarette smoke drifting in from the vestibule. Paul was smoking, and he had little to fear from the guard (or 'Train Manager' as they insist on calling them) because the guy was locked in his cupboard in fear of his life. One elderly man I passed at one point could be heard calling the 'Train Manager' a 'loser' in a loud voice, because he had failed to make any announcements for the almost two hours of us being stationary. I could not but agree. We arrived in London at around midnight, after 6 hours on the train, and Virgin Trains had laid on taxis for those travelling on to other destinations. I overheard Paul say that he was planning a trip to Southend-on-Sea.

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