The Quidditch World Cup or something has come to the Abbey, and in some style. Leave aside all naked FIFA corruption, the riots and the general unpleasant side of the ‘beautiful game’, the tournament is up and running.
Now, I am not much of a footie man. I quite like a bit of international egg chasing, and I keep my eye on of the odd bit of rowing and beach volleyball now and again (just for balance, you understand). But ‘Thug Ball’ is not really my thing. That said, it is a good excuse for a knees up.
One of our commentators asked the other week: what has become of my special friend, Sister Eva Longoria, and my old mucker, wit, author, raconteur and bon viveur Randy Hack. The answer is: plotting.
Both are steeped in football. Sister Eva used to play in goal for Hereford United Reserves, and Randy is a highly experienced football administrator. He has formerly been chairman or executive director of a number of clubs, including Old Corinthians (in administration), Putney United All Stars (in administration), Peas Pottage Rovers (in liquidation) and Birmingham Special Needs Academy (in Special Measures). He is also a special advisor to FIFA’s ethics committee.
Preparations began in earnest on Monday, when Randy, Sister Eva and a few of the guys from her mixed martial arts classes turned up in a small van and – quite without a ‘by your leave’ – started to unload a number of large second hand sofas and some trestle tables. Your author was pressed into reluctant slavery as the sofas were installed in the games room and the whole place re-arranged to form something of a large amphitheatre, and the trestle tables stored in the shed.
The next day a knock on the door from someone who claimed to be from the Amazon heralded another delivery; a huge 56 inch plasma TV, and Eva duly spent the day setting up in front of the sofas.
On Wednesday the pace hotted up with the arrival of supplies of food and drink with the aid of a special delivery by a lorry from one of our leading supermarkets. I looked at the delivery note.
100 cans of Fosters lager. 20 boxes of Romanian Cabernet Sauvignon. 20 boxes of House Dry White. 6 bottles of Every Day Value Gin and another 6 of vodka. 6 cases of Cava. 6 bottles of something called ‘Sambuca’, 20 shot glasses and curiously a bag of coffee beans. 200 large packets of crisps (assorted). 20 extra large value packs of salted peanuts. 20 value packs of miniature pork pies. 100 sausage rolls. 40 packs of chicken pieces. 1 kilogram of curry powder and 10 bulbs of garlic. 6 pounds of roast ham. 30 packets of pork sausages and 50 rib eye steaks. 200 plastic glasses and assorted England bunting. 30 loafs. 200 paper plates and plenty of plastic spoons, forks and knives. There was more, but I lost track.
And later in afternoon when Randy turned up with two ribs of beef from the local butcher and started to assemble a large portable barbecue in the garden I started to suspect that something might be up.
What was ‘up’ was the Ing-Er-Land World Cup Party which occurred last night. In all fairness, Eva, the old dear, worked like a Trojan, setting up the trestle tables and filling them with drinks and food, heating up the curry and making sandwiches. She appears to be in the Keith Floyd school of cooking, by the way, and was making regular inroads in the Cab Sauve. I leant a hand with both, of course.
The event was scheduled to begin at 6 pm. In retrospect it might have been a mistake to start the event so early, because the guests started arriving at about 4, and they were already in the spirit of things, shall we say. Sister Eva’s Zumba mates arrived first in a mini bus, looking like the hen do from hell, and singing witty ditties like “get your t**ts out for our lads”. They appeared to have been to a wine tasting. They started on the Cava and gin straight away, and had these strange vuvuzela things which they delighted in blowing in my direction. More assorted wasters and oddballs began to arrive; at 5 there was another mini-bus arrival, this time from Sister Eva’s mixed martial arts club. The garden was starting to fill up now and the smell of curry and lager filled the evening air. There was another rather pungent smell as well, which I took to be someone with an unusual brand of foreign cigarettes, or perhaps incense.
At about 6 there was the arrival of rather tough, fit looking and sunburned men in a trio of busses marked “Hereford Tours”. There must have been about 20, and they introduced themselves to me. They were all called “Bob”. What an amazing coincidence, I thought. It must have been very confusing for them, but it made talking on first name terms very easy. They seemed to work abroad a lot.
It might be thought that with all these arrivals there would not be enough food and drink to go round, but fortunately every one had come with a little contribution in the form of wine or beer or spirits, or all three.
Surprisingly since there was a lot of alcohol about Randy arrived rather late, looking a bit breathless, and in the company of a rather charming young lady from Russia called, I think, “Anastasia Dating”. She seemed rather pleasant, even if the dress was a little short (or is it long) on décolleté. He immediately set to with the barbecue, but there seemed to be some health and safety issues when he poured a litre of diesel on the barbecue to ‘give it a kick start’.
It all went rather swimmingly really, and I was particularly impressed with the human pyramid by the boisterous gentlemen from Hereford, until the thunderstorm set in. It was not that the lawn started to churn up, and we got most of the food indoors only slightly damp, but the lightning strike that took out Joyce and Mary from the W.I. was a bit of a shock. Fortunately the Hereford gentleman had some trained medics in their number, and pronounced that they had ‘seen worse’.
I decided discretion was the better part of valour and retired to my private apartment about 9.00, armed with a bottle of port and a copy of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I recommend it:
This morning, the aftermath. I am told Ing-Er-Land played quite well but lost. This is an improvement on playing badly and losing, so there is still cause for optimism. I am also told that in their next match they must play Uruguay, who have a cannibal as their main striker.
I have to say that the Abbey is a bit of a mess. The garden looks like the Somme, littered with paper plates and cans and sodden bunting. The gentlemen from Hereford have made bivouacs in the undergrowth, and one slept in a tree. They are ‘brewing up’ on hexamine stoves. However, they are very happy to help in Operation Clean up. Randy is wrapped around the stone griffin. There appears to have been a food fight in the games room, and there are assorted comatose bodies lying about and someone had been sick in the corner. Anastasia is being a dear and making tea.
I shall make a bacon sandwich and a coffee. And get ready for the next time….
Gildas the Monk