Watching the World Cup. 04/07/2006

Given that I am a pub person and I have come across very few French Bars that I do not like, it will come as no surprise that I prefer to watch The World Cup safely ensconced in some convivial establishment, a drink at hand and with the elation and despair of the moment almost tangibly ebbing and flowing around me.

However, it is clear, even to me, that pouring copious amounts of alcohol into my hard suffering liver every time the likes of Saudi Arabia kicks off against Tunisia is hardly fair, particularly as poor old Larry Liver can’t see a thing. Thus I decided, on grounds of pragmatism, that I would watch just England and French games “au bar” and the other matches, whenever I could, at home.

With this in mind I purchased a TV from Super-U for the astronomical price of €99 as our other two televisions are being hogged, rather thoughtlessly, by our current set of visitors on the feeble excuse that they have rented the two apartments.  Sheila says this is perfectly acceptable but I remain to be convinced!

It is true that the picture on our new TV is so small as to be the definitive proof of Quantum Mechanics but, by putting it immediately next to the couch, I can just about make out different coloured shirts running up and down the pitch, except, that is, on channel 6 whose commentators must be the unluckiest in the world because every time they feature a game it is played in the most horrendous blizzard. This is very odd because every other match is played in temperatures so hot that David Beckham spends all his time puking and losing 15 stone a match whilst, at the same time, having to drink enough water to irrigate the home counties for a day, in addition, referees are so affected by the heat that they forget that a player only has to have two yellow cards to be sent off and another thinks he has to use all 52 in the pack.

Still, c’est la vie as one says in these parts.

So, I watch my two teams in the Café de Ville in Doué la Fontaine. Not that this is the perfect solution.  One TV is mounted so high up on the wall that, unless you hide overnight in order to commandeer one of the first two tables early the following morning, the view is pretty much the same as on my own state of the art, ground breaking, quantum television.  The other TV is a huge Plasma thingy, about the size of a transit van but, for a reason which escapes everyone, is mounted low down adjacent to the toilets. Thus there is a never ending stream of heads and shoulders to-ing and fro-ing in front of the screen whilst they answer the calls of nature, the frequency of which, of course, increases in direct proportion to the time spent imbibing.  Now, for many people, this may bring back fond memories of the good old terrace days in the years BC (before chairs),  however given that I was cursed, by birth, to be a Port Vale fan congested terraces were something I have never had a lot of experience with. The only time anyone came near me was to ask if I had finished the copy of War and Peace I was reading.  I once had a friend who had a plan to build chalets and to create a terraced garden, a sort of Hanging Gardens of the Hamil Road End! 

Still, that’s another story!

Anyway, I called in the Café de Ville one afternoon to check the kick off time for France v Spain, and, over a chilled Rosé, was chatting to Eric, a perfectly normal, sober human being. Except, that is, for the fact that there was not a centimetre of visible hair and skin which was not dyed red, white and blue.  After about 10 minutes of conversation, he looked at his watch, mumbled something about it being time, said he would return and strode purposefully out of the bar together with a huge French football scarf.  He then proceeded to position himself in the centre of the yellow painted “roundabout” on the road outside and proceeded to chant, “Allez Les Blues,”  holding the scarf above his head and causing much rhythmical horn papping, hand shaking and not a few screeching brakes.  ‘La Patronne’, matter of factly, informed me, that he had been doing this, on the hour, for the last three hours. After exactly 15 mins, on the hour, he returned, sat down, and resumed the conversation as if he had never been away. 

When I asked him why he has started his one man campaign so early in the day.  He answered, with impeccable gallic logic, that it would be impossible to do it during the match as, of course, he would miss some of the action.

C’est clair!!