Did we lose?

Paris, yesterday afternoon. Shortly after 1.30pm father and son emerged from drab and dreary Gare de Lyon into the hazy sunshine of what is slowly beginning to look like spring. The climate matched the spring in their step as the two made their way towards the Seine, for the beginning of what, they already knew, was going to be a memorable 24 hours. Safely tucked away inside Father's coat pocket was the object of their visit, two pieces of paper which would make them the envy of many of their landsmen on a similar pilgrimage but without the pieces of paper, or alternatively, if sold, would enable them to dine in the best restaurants and spend the night in the best hotels, without denting their meagre budeget in the least. But, thoughts of selling were alien to them as they sang their way along the Seine's south bank towards Notre Dame and the city's latin quarter. Father and son were on a mission to watch their countries heroes beat the French rugby 15 on home soil and continue their relentless march towards a second consecutive grand slam.

The circusmtances which brought them there were worthy of one of this writer's most intricate plots, yet we all know fact can be stranger than fiction. A staff worker for the FFR (Federation of French Rugby) received twice his usual allocation of tickets. He offered some to friends who accepted with joy until the daughter's wedding was announced. The tickets were shoved back and for until they final arrived into the hands of a friend who was leaving the previous evening for a skiing holiday. And so ended their weeks of wandering when they finally found permanent resting place tucked inside the false pocket of father's anorak.

The interpid pair were greeted with looks of mild amazement by those who understood nothing of the significance of their red T-shrits, but with understanding bemusing by those who themselves would have given an arm or a leg to be in possession of what they now had. Several half-hearted shouts of "Alllez les bleus" were recipocrated by much more vigourous ones of "Cymru am Byth" and the singing got louder.

After a short pause in a somewhat bare jardin des plantes the two walked through the strange sculptures that formed the Seine open-air museum of modern sculpture, where they saw something looking remarkably similar to the English scrum, done up in white, and looking as if they didn't know where to push. Apart from that, most of the pieces were surrealistic and left our heroes quite perplexed as to what they might represent.

It wasn't until the two arrived at Notre Dame that other red shirts began to make their appearance and before long the melody of 'Bread of heaven' was echoing around the square in front of the world-famous church.

Singing is thirsty work and our heroes were soon looking for a watering post. The ideal place was found in a packed out Irish pub where two pints of cool, strong cider was enough to get our friends back into voice, and soon the whole of the pub, Welsh, Irish, and even some rare specimen of a French being was rocking to the sound of singing in all its states of quality. The singing continued as we hit the streets again and ran into an extemore Welsh male voice choir, the ranks of which were soon swelled by our own strong and melodious voices.

And so we made our way down to the stadium, not before stopping at one of the small Asian restaurants in the Latin Quarter which serve excellent meals at even more excellent prices.

Well, to tell the story of the match is a difficult task, even now some 20 hours later. Not only did we lose, but we deserved to do so. That did not, however, stop us from singing, and we passed into the new day back at the Irish pub singing and dancing our hearts out. As our train home wasn't due until 6 am and we had not bothered booking into a hotel for the night, we stayed there until they kicked us out to go home at 5 am. Actually, the very nice barmaid did offer to let us go home with her and her husband and get a little sleep but we politely declined and made our way back to the Gare de Lyon as quiet as mice; not out of any respect for our fellow human beings trying to get some sleep but simply because everything has its limits even the voice of a Welshmen. So, into the station we rolled, found our train and were soon pulling out of Paris, tired, hoarse but very very happy. You see we may have lost, but in reality we had what can only be described as a winning weekend. And the most amazing part is that I'm still in a fit enough state to sit here and write all this. But it's off to bed now. There's another match tonight.


I could feel the camaraderie and joy of this experience as if I was there. Great read!

1 March 2009 at 02:32  

i love the positive note and learnin in the end :)

take a peek into mine at

1 March 2009 at 14:48  

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