Thursday, 4 October 2007

happy holidays

I was just preparing to plunge my hands into the washing up bowl on Wednesday night when the mobile rang. It was Neil asking if I was up for the second half of a Champions League match.

“I didn’t call because I thought you’d be guarding the children while your missus was at the day –feel- lays,” I said.

No, he retorted, “The défilés were last night.”

“So what’s the look?”

Neil told me that the look from Jean Paul Gaultier — which is where his missus is a designer — is of pirates.

“But wasn’t that 15 years ago?”

“We’re all pirates now,” Neil reminded me.

Well after my fashion update, the brigand in me wanted to just leave the dirty dishes there. But admirable behaviour prevailed. I completed the assignment, got on my bike and met up with Neil at the usual venue.

Quigley’s Point is an Irish bar near one of the side doors of St Eustache, a massive church that somehow seems belittled by the sprawling modern complex of Les Halles.

What I like about the area around the church is that it is well illuminated, animated but yet the building emits a powerful calm.

Chelsea under Jose Mourinho used to pump power and as I went over to greet Neil, I looked up at the giant screen to see Liverpool trailing at home to Marseille.

“Chelsea are two one up at Valencia,” he informed me.

“I’m off Chelsea,” I replied. He laughed.

We were watching Liverpool’s increasingly frantic bid to equalise when one of the immigration officers from the Gare Du Nord came up to say hello.

I’d bumped into her when I was at the bar with Neil sometime last season during a Champions League match.

“The last time I saw you, you were having trouble with that bloke…”

I told her that I saw him in the Frequent Traveller Lounge without his family. She just rolled her eyes.

We got chatting and she told me that her three-year posting to Paris was ending and she was off to work at Calais.

This would lead to no end of domestic difficulties as her partner worked for French immigration at la Gare du Nord but there were secondments she could do in Paris.

Neil suggested that she could get medical leave if I attacked her during one of my next trips through.

She pushed her lip out while pondering the crocked genius of it.

I must admit it was inspired but ultimately flawed but then he is an architect.

An architect hailing from north-east England. So Newcastle United Football Club is the logical team for him.

And in the days when Chelsea were falling short in the Champions League, he used to say: “At least your team is in the Champions League.”
Couldn’t argue with him on that. Now that I am teamless I just looked at the results and thought about the surprises of the night.

The Chelsea win at Valencia was a shock given that Chelsea couldn’t beat their struggling neighbours Fulham last Saturday. So coming from behind against a team that had five straight victories under their belts in the Spanish league was something of a coup.

After the Liverpool match we stayed and watched the highlights from the other games and caught up over a couple of drinks.

His girls are learning to play the flute and guitar. From next week for 10 days I’m going to have to be teacher to mine.

I went to see the teacher of the six year old at 8am this morning to find out what she’d have to do while she’s in America.

I squinted as the exercises were explained to me briefly. I’m glad I’m not going to school every day.

As for the tasks for the eight-year-old, they are much simpler. She has to prepare a review of her trip, taking in things like the people she meets and what she does.
And then she can present it all to the class soon after her return.

Her teacher says that she can catch up on the lessons missed during the half-term holiday in Paris.

We’re obviously entering the realm of hothouse holidays.