Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

How’s your Christmas shopping going?

I know people (I work with them) who have bought, wrapped and labelled everything already but quite frankly that’s just not fun. What can more invoke the spirit of Christmas than panic buying, overspending, lugging heavy parcels home on a rush hour train without losing or breaking anything; feeling exhausted, flaking out at home with a cup of tea, sore feet and a crashing headache? These efficient types have no idea what they’re missing.

So I started mine this week. Having Mondays off is very useful at this time of year when weekend high streets and shopping malls resemble the frantic activity of a termite mound. We decided to make for the quieter – dare I say more select – side of town and headed off to the Kings Road in Chelsea.

However, on alighting at Sloane Square underground station I was transported back three decades to when I worked in the West End, during the conflict in Northern Ireland and a time of sustained danger from bombing or security threats which perpetually hung over our capital. As we queued to take the escalator, a piercing blast from a public address system assaulted our ears followed by an innocuous sounding message – ‘This is a staff announcement. Would Inspector Sands please go to the ticket office immediately.’ This was followed by another ear-shattering siren and the message again, repeated several times. I was up that escalator like a rat up a drainpipe.

Call me paranoid – it’s not as if Sloane Square is a big or complicated station – only two platforms with one train line passing through – where the hell could Inspector Sands have got to, to warrant such an insistent command for his presence?   This may well have been a genuine call for him to attend his ticket office – but as I shot past it on my way through the exit, said ticket office was well and truly shut. Perhaps Inspector Sands has the only key, who knows, but for me, this sounded like a coded warning to station staff that all was not well in Sloane Square and they should start checking their given areas for anything suspicious.

Back in the day, with hoax bomb calls designed to cause maximum disruption up and down Oxford and Regent Street and elsewhere, coded warnings to retail personnel were commonplace. Not wanting to cause mass panic or an exodus of shoppers unless absolutely necessary, it was the sensible way of communicating to responsible staff to check their areas, report back to a central number within a store and then for a follow up message to be broadcast alerting the workforce of the all clear. Without wanting to divulge any particular message, it doesn’t take long to work out that while one store seemed to be forever looking for a lost child answering to the same description another would be having frequent meetings with a General Manager on a nonexistent eighth floor. My lunch hours trailing round various competitors were often swiftly truncated if a tannoyed announcement interrupted my browsing.

So I hope that Sloane Square really does have an Inspector Sands. I hope my suspicions were unfounded but old habits clearly die hard. With heightened security quite rightly sweeping our cities after the appalling events in Paris it’s best to be vigilant and stay safe: but carry on.

Here’s wishing you all a peaceful run up to your festive seasons.

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Ahh….

The smell of  meat pies

The roar of the crowd

Flags fluttering in  crisp night air

Punctuated by a tsunami of tribal chanting

 Highs and  lows on

The green, green grass

Of home

Champions League night

Back at the Bridge.

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I’ve been learning about lines of best fit and anomalies in science with our eleven year olds this half term and have derived a little amusement just hearing them trying to pronounce the word, let alone spell it. (It doesn’t take much to keep me happy).

 I suppose you could say that my love of football is anomalous; an anomaly. It is incongruous amongst my other areas of interest.  If I were to plot a scientific graph, it would lie either above or below my line of best fit. I’m not quite sure what my x or y criteria would be, but I like the word anomalous, the way it rolls off the tongue. (Or not).

Come to think of it, my presence in a science lesson is in itself an anomaly, so let’s stick with football where I am able to hold forth from an even playing field.

Where did this all passion for the beautiful game kick-off, then?  You may well ask; I blame my mother.

Back in 1968 she let me stay up late on a school night, to watch the European Cup Final between Manchester United and Benfica on our black and white television set. Mum was keen to watch George Best play; I think she needed an ally and I was more than happy to miss bed time and oblige. Dad, who didn’t like football at all, sat behind his newspaper and emerged occasionally to cheer Benfica on, much to my annoyance. George Best scored a goal during extra time to help United lift the cup by which time I was hooked. Until he arrived on the scene, footballers looked much the same as rugby players: big and beefy. He was small and looked weedy but moved exceptionally fast with extraordinary skill. The fact that he had twinkly Irish eyes, a Beatle haircut and wore his shirt outside his shorts may also have added to his appeal, I don’t know, but it made me want a team of my own.

Mum said that however much we adored Bestie, we ought to support a team nearer home, (unlike 95% of current Man U supporters who have never even been to England, let alone Manchester), so she suggested Crystal Palace, the nearest team to us at that time. I went along with this for a while but wasn’t convinced as they never seemed to win anything.

A couple of years later, my friend Laura and I returned from a shopping trip where she had bought some hot pants in a shop called Chelsea Girl; it also happened to be the Saturday of the notorious Chelsea – Leeds FA Cup Final. Her grandfather, who ran our local pub, invited several of his regulars upstairs to watch the match once the bar had closed. Laura (wearing the hot pants) and I watched too. The men were all gunning for Leeds which made Laura and I all the more determined to cheer for Chelsea. The rest, as they say, is history.  Chelsea went on to win – eventually, after a replay at Old Trafford – and I found the team I have supported ever since.

Completely co-incidentally, my husband turned out to be a faithful Chelsea fan too, so Son had no choice in the matter and for several years we went to all our team’s home games. The sight of that green, green pitch never fails to impress; the banter in the stands provides much hilarity, albeit a little blue at times.

Football can be a great leveller, and as a female, understanding the finer points of the game can be a distinct advantage, as well as providing cast -iron street cred when necessary.

A couple of years ago, while supporting a geography class of rowdy under-achieving thirteen year olds, one of our, shall we say, less engaged pupils was lolling across his desk, semi-comatose, so I suggested that he sat up properly and got on with colouring in the rivers and mountain ranges on his pre-printed world map.

 He told me to eff off.

This kind of response usually results in removal from the classroom but it also involves paperwork which is a faff so I fixed him with my best icy stare and said,

 “You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to insult me, Peter; I go to football every week and hear much worse,”

He looked at me; he wasn’t expecting this – I had wrong-footed him. I could see him weighing up the situation; for a moment I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d scored an own goal. I held my breath and continued staring at him. Slowly he heaved himself into a sitting position and, with what I can only describe as a rueful grin of respect, began to colour his map.

1-0 to me, then. How I love having the last word…

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