There is more than one way to get back to Chelsea from Turin, and likewise more than one way to celebrate Chelsea’s march into the Champions League quarter finals. Last Wednesday I came across two Chelsea fans who’d found a way to resolve both these dilemmas by commandeering the bar cart on the Eurostar from Paris to London.
Having spent the day in Paris with my girlfriend, taking in an exhibition at the Pompidou Centre (”Vides: a retrospective.” a rare modern wonder – till March 23rd) I wandered up to the bar cart and saw a hefty blue flag draped over the window.
Follow the Rising Sun across Europe. Ah… Chelsea boys I thought, I’ll be in good company. But then I had a look at the two surviving protagonists and thought, yeah well, maybe they’re alright as is, because clearly this leg of the journey was a long way down the line from Turin. The fatigue, the rattling of the train and the lack of bar stools combined to create an eerily hypnotic display of drunken swaying and the bar queue was nervously giving them as wide a berth as the carriage allowed. Behind me however, a young woman had no such reservations:
Girl: Chelsea yeah?
This is a bold move at the best of times, but considering the cumulative effect of twenty hours of drinking and a high speed train, it was downright foolhardy.
Man 1 (lighting up): Chelsea CHELSEA!
Man 2 (staying slightly dim): Chels..
Man 1: Chelsea! CHELSEA!
Man 2 (after a pause): Chels..?
Girl: Yeah! The Super Eagles. My favourite, I love the Super Eagles.Man 1 (a little taken aback by this assessment) Er…
Man 1 (lighting up again): Didier DROG!
Man 2 (also lighting up, although less enthusiastically): lallallla
Man 1: Didier Drog!
At this stage it becomes evident that Man 2, although happy with the lyrics of the chants, is perhaps a little hazy as to which one he’s just started.
Man 2: CHELS!
Girl: He’s great Drogba, so strong, a Super Eagle.
Man 1: Ah, Drog…. he’s … (I suppose finding it hard to forgive a generally sketchy season on the back of one, admittedly resurgent, goal) He’s a bit of a drama queen, isn’t he? He’s a bit, you know… he likes a performance.
Man 1 (happy with the success of his diplomatic language): You just want to give him a hug. Don’t you? A bit of a cuddle, you know?
Man 2 (clearly confused by the conversation’s new direction): Who?
Man 1: Drogba
Man 2 is apparently less convinced that the Drog deserves a bit of a cuddle; he draws a deep breath. The remaining occupants of the carriage hold theirs.
Man 2 (letting rip): Didier DROG!
Men 1 + 2 (instinctively): LALLALALAA!
Man 1: Didier Drog!
Man 2 (after a pause): … Chels?
Man 1 (to the girl): Are you a Chelsea fan?
Girl: Of course.
Man 1 (suddenly emotional): I (hic) excuse me … I’d like to buy you a beer.
There’s another pause, this time the members of the carriage, the waiter, the two fans, the members of the queue, all seem to take a moment to consider the situation and quite possibly reflect on the notion that all that stood between Scolari, Chelsea, several million pounds and a successful Premiership campaign, was a bit of a cuddle.
Girl (addressing me for the first time): Excuse me, I’m just queueing for some water, do you think I could jump ahead of you? I’ve got a bad headache.
So that was that. Chelsea surged forward, the girl in the queue surged forward and so too, importantly, did Liverpool surge forward. This may seem an odd thing for me to say, but you see my girlfriend supports Liverpool and I took advantage of her good spirits and mild Parisian inebriation to slip in a quiet proposal. (Editor: And now you’ve put it writing! Hope she said yes?)
Being a red, she will have wanted rubies. She got sapphires. (Keep the blue flag flying high.)