Sad, Rad and a Tad Dangerous to Know
Manchester Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
My only problem with attending this meet was that due to work commitments, as is usually the case I wasn’t going to be able to make the majority of the meet, and was likely to miss out on the true moments of wanton drunkenness, imbecility and crimes against humanity or at least common sense.
However determined to make the most of it, I jumped in the Warrior and at set-off about mid-day towards Didsbury where Matt had informed me; they would be getting together for the afternoon to watch the footie after the previous night of reserved partying ............... not! As I got to the outskirts of the town I sent Matt a text to find out where they actually were, his reply; Didsbury! Now I am aware that the town can hardly be described as a major megatropolis of urban entertainment, but I was pretty sure that it almost certainly had more than one pub in which they would be hiding/recovering. I therefore texted him again requesting a little more information, which to his credit he replied with immediately. So after finding a place to park I struck out on foot to find the fabled Manchester meet.
Now I’m sure many of you have been on probably a few meets before but I this was my first and as a neophyte I wasn’t sure how you go about letting people know who you are. Nobody was likely to be wearing red carnations or dressed as James Bond, so the group wasn’t likely to be immediately obvious. As I arrived at the particular pub in question where we were going to watch the Liverpool derby my concerns seemed well founded, there seemed to be several small groups which could potentially be the TB one. The question was how to find the correct one, and say ‘Hi’ without appearing a complete idiot and avoiding total embarrassment. I decided the sensible approach was to stick close to the most likely group and eavesdrop for a little while, hopefully reducing the possibilities if not in fact all possibility of complete humiliation.
A few minutes later I had decided on a likely looking group (which turned out to be two separate groups) so ordered a Guinness and enquired gingerly if they were “here on a TB meet or summat?” To my relief the replied in the affirmative and a few moments of introductions, male bonding and some firm hand shaking later I knew this entire select little band. In attendance were Matt, Bondy, Wayne and Marc, there were also two girls and a guy on the sofa who turned out to have nothing to do with this us at all, I’m glad I hadn’t chosen them to introduce myself to, can just picture the looks I’d have received.
Matt is an Everton supporter, and everybody seemed to be cheering for them either as support for him or because they were Jamchester United supporters (no explanation required to real footie fans), so as a Blackpool supporter, true neutral and in the spirit of fair play I decided to support Liverpool (might have something to do with my rebellious side also).
There was a bit of banter, some short but descriptive chat about the previous evenings activities, which seemed to feature Bondy getting drunk quite a bit. I chatted to Marc for awhile, a Feyenord supporter and as I don’t know that much about Dutch footie I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He was also off to Asia in a few days, which he took every opportunity to remind Wayne of, and something I was more than happy to assist him in doing for the rest of the afternoon, don’t you just love a good bit of banter.
It didn’t turn out to be the best afternoon for Matt as Liverpool ending up winning a fairly disappointing game, in which Everton I have to say failed to turn up for. He won’t thank me for reminding him of that, especially as it was his birthday the next day, and not the best way to celebrate.
We were then going to move off to watch the Jamchester game at another pub which Bondy had been assured would be showing. So we headed off down the road, first in one direction and then after receiving some directions off in the other. We wandered around a bit lost for awhile, which isn’t too impressive for a group of guys located in a relatively small town who claim to be world travellers! Bondy decided to ask directions in one of the local shops; an opticians and proceeded to ask everybody in the shop except the people who work there ............ should have gone to Specsavers. I then asked two girls whose initial reaction was “Is it an old man’s pub?” Not the answer I was hoping for, but they did seem to know where it was; obviously in the direction we had been going originally! We did eventually find the place, but it wasn’t showing the game, in fact I found out later that due to some agreement between UK television stations and complicate European legal issues, there aren’t any games which kick-off at 3pm showing on any of our channels. This is a conspiracy which equates as equally sinister as the Kennedy assassination or Roswell! Before I start receiving any hate mail, I am only being serious!
After a little more toing and froing we decided on O’Neill’s for some scoff, of which I was extremely pleased as I was so hungry I could have eaten a scabby horse between two pieces of bread, or even some roast guinea pig if it had been offered (there’s an in joke in there somewhere)! We all ordered some food, I had some sort of fish stew, which was really quite good and Bondy managed to con me into buying him a huge bottle of Jacques cider which cost almost a month’s beer tokens in Nepal, or a two night stay in the Timbuktu Hilton! To be honest he did offer to some money towards it, but you know what they say “Never let the truth get in the way of a good character assassination!”
Nobody was especially interested in the footie and we had several wide ranging discussions most of which I can’t remember apart from one on internet relationships, chiefly between Wayne and Matt and a lively discussion about whether Darren Fletcher would make it into the first team of any Premiership team outside the big four(yeah footie again, sorry girls) Bondy was of the opinion he would, and every other man and his dog who hadn’t downed several pints and a large bottle of Jacques disagreed. Matt and I in particular wanted to know who he would replace in the Everton, Villa or Tottenham midfields. Believe it or not we probably kept this topic of debate going for at least quarter of an hour. Incidentally Jamchester won, to nobody except Bondy’s interest but much more importantly so did Blackpool!
As the afternoon wore on the effects of the huge bottle of Jacques seemed to wear on Bondy more and more, and by the time I had to leave there were some rumblings of doubt as to whether he would actually make the rest of the day. Although I didn’t really know him, I personally would have happily placed a substantial wager that after a short rest he would be a major player in what was to come. From all accounts this seems to have been borne out.
Eventually though all good things must come to an end, and I had to depart my first meet-up. I was there for a total of about four hours and maybe, although I doubt it some sort of record for the shortest attendance at a meet ever! Marc claims that they tried extremely hard to persuade me to stay, well I don’t really remember that much arm twisting going on, although Matt did offer me the extremely tempting prospect of sleeping on his floor, for which I must thank him. Reluctantly though I had to decline the kind offer as I was at work in just over an hour and I had a bed of my own not twenty miles away. I did get some info on the meets planned for Edinburgh (which the curse of the working classes prevented me from attending again) and the Laos meet next April, which would be cool to get too, tubing on the Mekong sounds too good to miss!
I thoroughly enjoyed my short but ummm sweet first meet-up though and will certainly look forward to my next ....................... can I suggest everybody attending dresses as James Bond though?
By the way if anybody is wondering about the title it’s a tongue in cheek reference to Sir Ranulph Fiennes’s autobiography. It doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to the meet, (at least whilst I was there anyway) but I couldn’t think of a better one and I liked this one, so there!