It was just another day in the office, dull dull dull, and then the phone rang.
“Awright, thats the tickets in!”
“Aye, for The Mousetrap”
“The what now?”
“Aye the women arranged a night out for us all, got tickets for theatre”
“Oh right, when is it?”
“But its the fitbaw”
“Och dont worry about daft fitbaw mate”
“Aye you would say that seeing as your teams in the Ramsden Cup the night afore” ( And we all know why he disnae care for fitbaw noo!).
I put the phone doon and shrugged. Regardless of how crap i felt, I knew I was duty bound to attend. I owed them for a previous grant they had bade my way.
That was last week, during weekend in between I had a stag do. Cue introductions and random queries to ascertain the allegiances within the party. The Celtic men were soon slagging me when I explained what was behind my replies of ‘ Naw Im busy wednesday” as they asked what part I would be playing in Celtic’s return to the Premier Club Football Competition in the World ( copyright Sky no doubt!).
There had to be something I could do. Had to be.
By the time Wednesday morning came around, I had devised a plan.
A plan so cunning, it could be blindfolded and still hide 3 cream cakes from Kris Commons in a pantry while teaching Fraser Forster how to limbo dance. I resolved the only solution was tape the game, attend the Play, and then get home whilst avoiding all mention of the game whatsoever. If it was good enough for a plot for an episode of The Likely Lads, it was good enough for me!
The game was afoot, or not as it was still only 9am but you know what I mean. I set the Cable box to record SkySports 3 while noticing the available space was getting rather low, “Still .. can’t be that much scheduled to tape on a Wednesday” I thought as I clicked record, considered removing the batteries and hiding the remotes, and exited for work.
Within the working hours I received 11 texts, all from distant Celtic fans, people I now call former friends, heading into Glasgow for the game. One from Perth, one from Blackpool and one from Dublin. All combined the elements of calling me a self abuser for missing such a game, a weakling for being under the thumb, a mug for allowing such schedule clashes, and to be fair to their compassionate souls, most asking just how sick (with jealousy) I was feeling with every passing minute inching towards 19:45 and cue the CL music time!
I, as you may expect, replied with dignified, considered and dare I say so myself, noble ‘GIRFUY’ style texts whilst also highlighting my fancy for a classic Fixed Odds Double, Big Wanyama for first goal and the Butler in the Drawing Room for first murderer. Strangely even Ray Winstone at Bet365 wasnt entertaining me with that wager. So much for “Its all about the ‘in the back with a letter opener!'” adverts eh Ray?
6pm came and it was time to depart work and head to meet the Mrs and pals. A walk along Sauchiehall St saw a scattering of Celtic fans heading East and every pub I passed had Celtic v Benfica chalkboards standing loud and proud outside, calling out to punters like Sirens. On each passing, I valiantly shook my head and said ‘It will be fine’ in that voice Danny Alexander must use when his wife asks ‘But what happens in 3 years time?”.
After some quick food to try and settle my stomach it was time for quicker beers to try and kill the voices. It was after 7 and by now I felt like I was part of Terry Aldertons comedy act with 3 separate voices having a chat in one head
“They’ll be warming up now“,
“He likes the warm up…gets a look at the crowd building, yes“
“Yes, he does, can you feel his pulse racing“
“Im fine, It will all be fine!“
“Fine…yes fine, nothing to worry about, fine, nothing but“
“Yes nothing to worry about but, but“
“But what but?, but what?, what but?, but but but what?”
Thus went the internal dialogue as externally I stood with the Pensioners heading into the Theatre Royal. The seats were taken for the play with me noting ( inwardly of course!) that the theatre seat and view werent as good as the ones I could be enjoying at Celtic Park, although in fairness the Theatre Royals audiences Werthers Original unwrapping decibal levels would easily trounce any cheers from the Celtic crowd saluting the Huddle.
The curtain began to rise and I looked at my watch, it was edging towards kick off. It was then I noticed a guy along from me, his face aglow as he stared down at his mobile phone. “GET THE PHONE AFF!” screamed my inner voice. Easier said than done in a theatre seat that was built for the 5 footers of the 1900s and didnt expect theatre goers to have a bag at his feet and a plastic half-pint glass in hand. After a panic stricken minute or so, my phone was off and any texts from friends in need ( or worse at the game) or emergency calls from my dear old mother would just have to wait 6 hours. A man has to have his priorities in life after all.
The play reached half time, interval schminterval!, and we headed for another beer at the bar. As my friend chatted with his wife and mine, I stood there staring blankly, watching out for anyone carrying our looking at their phone. Everytime a phone user approach, I would attempt the long forgotten skill of closing up the ears using ESP, the Perception thing, not the sports channel. Somehow I survived and just before heading back in, i heard my mate asking who we thought would be the most likely culprit to commit a heinous crime. “The Major” said my wife, “Hmm the old Tourist” said his beloved, “Forster losing concentration” I replied.
The play eventually ended and as we left I found myself actually relieved when the girls said they didnt want to go to the pub and wanted to call it a night. I felt my mate was taking the piss by going for a piss, taking an age to battle through the sea of Pensioners but 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises and a return to the 3 voice inner dialogue saw me through. Soon we were at my mates car.
“Before we head home, can we keep the radio off?” I asked.
“Err sure” said my mates wife, oblivious to my inner turmoil.
“Oh look, your cousins updated Facebook” said my wife.
“GET IT OFF” I screamed like a nutter.
My mates wife, for some unknown reason, then felt it might be safer for my wife if she sat in the back with her. Thankfully my wife explained my dilemma and the reasons for my stressful disposition. Within 10 mins we had exited the car park and were at the motorway. Given it was just after 10pm, sure enough we hit the football traffic. My mate and my wife, in a moment of sweet revenge, took pleasure in teasing me with such sweet patter as :
“They people in cars and buses dont look too happy eh?’
“Probably just because of the traffic”
I swear i heard a giggle at one point.
Eventually we pulled up on the sunny southside and I was home. Taking a breath, I managed to retain a semblance of manners and bade my friends farewell and thanked then for a pleasant evening, i thought having to wave them off was a bit much but my wife had given me that “Dont you dare run away” stare and there was no game worth defying that.
Finally they were out of sight and I was up the stairs.
Door unlocked…into the Living room and my brain engaged William Wallace mode and screamed “HOLD!“.
Despite my eagerness I still had the awareness to realise it would only take a second for the TV to relay the score to me and ruin my night. Duly I stopped there in my tracks. I looked over and as feared, the Cable box was indeed showing a channel that could give away the score. I picked up the remote and changed the channel number displayed to 132, Rangers TV aka Comedy Central.
I knew there was no way repeats of Two and Half Men or Roadshows presented by the dire Michael McIntyre aka “Size of Two and a half men” would be relaying anything to do with Celtic v Benfica.
With the Channel secured, I turned on the TV, the warm up screen appeared and then evolved to show Charlie Sheen. “Phew” i sighed ( well no-one says Phew but kids could be reading) and just as I went to look down at the remote and activate the recorded channels, the screen showed a pop up that read:
“Scheduled recording could not be recorded as insufficient space!“.
“FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK OFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF” i screamed ( sorry Kids!) and my wife ran in the room. “Has it no worked?” asked my wife as I stood there motionless, open mouthed and pointing at the TV in a quite brilliant Donald Sutherland from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers impersonation.
I clicked the V+ button to see recordings and it showed FAILED!
My heart sank.
“Oh that’s rubbish” said my wife as I stood there numb.
“I will have to try and catch up tomorrow” she continued as I continued my empty stare at the TV.
The words drifted in the air and hung there for milliseconds that seemed like years. “Whats that?” I softly exhaled. “My program “Housewives of Orange County didnt tape” my wife replied . Somewhere a bell rang and an Angel got its wings. I looked up at the screen. The recordings showed a show on ITV2 had failed. Below that read a line worthy of the Bard
Sky Sports 3 UEFA Champions League, records Duration 2 hrs 37mins….RECORDED!
Even poor Atlas has no idea what that weight felt like falling from my shoulders.
“Who teh feck want to tape housewives of Orange Country” I croaked as the adrenaline rush edged into a cold hard yet welcome come down.
My wife sighed, turned and walked out the room not realising the monumental event she had just been part off.
I took a few steps back and fell back, exhausted onto the couch.
And it was then I pressed Play.
Have you ever had to AVOID a Celtic game or result…tell us in the Comments
( Thanks to Colin Malcolmson for Feature Image via Twitter)