A few years ago we toured Paris as a rugby team. Well the boys were doing the playing, we were the alikdoos.
We left on Maundy Thursday from the club, having had a little tipple before we left. The Vets were also leaving that day for Ireland, and with Ireland being notionally dry on Good Friday, their little tipple involved a large number of drinks and hitting town, and they were already in a much worse state than us when both coaches left in the early hours. The coach trip down to Dover for us was a long one, and knowing that sleep was about 28 hours away, the sensible ones refrained from starting drinking too early. That wasn't the case for some of the dads, who will remain nameless. When we got on the ferry at 7am, some were already tired and emotional while others ate a hearty breakfast. Call me lightweight KW, we'll see later won't we? NB the initials are just coincidentally mine as well.
Drinking for the rest of the adults commenced when the sun passed over the yard arm - with still another 7 hours before the game. We all had Easter Bonnets as a tour theme. This showed up my lack of handicraft skills - just sewing a couple of chickens onto a baseball cap seemed a good idea to me. The stuffed rubber chicken that one of the dads had just had that hint of sexual perversion that perhaps was inapprpriate for a children's tour. Removal of the hat meant a tour forfeit, and watching the early offenders Morris Dance at the Service Station left several French families bemused at the eccentric English. When we arrived at the club Ris Orangis, we were concerned that our 14 year olds would be playing boys who arrived on scooters, smoking Galloises, and needing to shave. However, when the Brits are underdogs they usually beat Johnny Foreigner, and especially the French. (Why are there so many tree lined avenues in France? To stop the Germans from getting sun-burnt when they march on Paris.) The hospitality was great, even catering for the parents, who by this time would have indulged in eating Shergar, again just like the French did years earlier.
We retired to our airport hotel, with the space age cubicles for bathrooms which cut down the time needed to sh1t, shower and shave as it could all be done at one time. Of course that was only after we had drunk the bar dry.
We had doctors on tour, often the worst drinkers, so why do you get a lecture when seeing the doctor about your vices as theirs are much much worse. KW, who had by now exceeded 24 hours drinking fell out of the lift, banged his head and lay bleeding on the floor. The 2 doctors declared him dead, so legally he can be buried, but he remains uninterred visiting the club regularly. On one floor, the doors opened and RM was standing in the doorway eating Pringles. The doctors stole them off him and the lift doors shut on RM without the Pringles. Do re-constituted potato count as one of your 5 a day? - obviously as a doctor was eating them, they must do.
The next day we visited Stade Francais for the stadium tour. Again our satisfaction at winding our neighbours up was complete with the boys' rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot on the pitch to the guide and a steward.We then got on the coaches when the afternoon's drinking started. Being a tour legend and alikadoo, meant that I had learnt to pace myself, unlike two of the other mums who used the Easter Traffic jams to clear the bus of any wine that was on the coach. We amused ourselves with singing a variety of songs. Music Man went on for ages, although it is doubtful whether any of the lads knew who Lord Mountbatten, Airey Neave, or Nikki Lauda were. One of the 2 Winos, LM, used the mike to sing 'Man I feel like a woman' by Shania Twain, but her real piece de resistance was the title song 'My Heart will go on', the dreadful dirge from 'Titanic' which was accompanied by lager flavoured sea spray, whilst she sang. Can't remember the name of the club, which I should do as I have their calender at home 'signed' by their first team, but our late arrival was welcomed with open arms. They were really pleased to see us as we had arrived nearly two hours late. They must have thought we weren't coming.
Being three 'single' women, meant that we didn't pay for another drink, as our French hosts were more than generous. My half of lager was matched by JA's half of white wine, and LM's half of gin, with a smattering of tonic. The host team played in blue, and we played in white, and so 'Allez les Bleus' was countered by 'Allez les Blancs' France v England and I think les Blancs won. The corniness in me would say that the game of rugby won again, as the hospitality was second to none with a barbeque and free drink for ladies.
We were so late we had to go straight to the Renault Restaurant on the Champs Elysees for food. LM by this time didn't know what continent she was on, let alone what city she was in. The gurgling meant we all knew what was coming, and MT provided the nappy bags which we hooked over each ear. The smell of baby lotion was enough to start off the regurgitation, although it didn't catch it all. When we got to the restaurant we sat her in a chair, while her long suffering husband bought her a change of clothes. NB as obscure as it seems, its actually an excellent place to eat and I have since returned there for food.
Meanwhile on one of the other buses, the late KW had left something in his bag, and crawled into the coach hold to get it. Somehow the hold door got closed and it was only half an hour later when the coach driver tried to find out where the knocking was coming from was he discovered, Must have been spooky hearing a dead man knocking from his coffin!
G would rather forget the next day. In fact I still don't think he's forgiven me. Instead of going to Euro Disney with the lads, I dragged him round Paris sightseeing. Except it was foggy and cold. We went to Musee D'Orsay, which has a fantastic collection of Impressionist Art for a 14 year old boy to enjoy (Not), and then the highlight of the day, walking around Pere Lachaise to see Jim Morrison's Grave. I don't really know why he wasn't impressed by the roses and half smoked doobies on his grave. They weren't on Edif Piaf's, or Abelard and Eloise's graves. Still I bet EuroDisney wasn't as good as the ones in Florida and Cailfornia that he's visited, and Mickey Mouse would have been Michel Souris.
And so we left Paris. Touring with boys is an interesting study in human relationships. They all start off quite tentatively, not always interacting with each other, but by the end they have really bonded well. On the return trip, they'd found a way of rigging a coin machine, so that its bounty of bouncing balls could be retrieved without payment. The parents spent the rest of the journey to Calais waiting for the blue lights to come on behind the bus. The sight of them bouncing all over the service station car park didn't give the game away to the owners - maybe they weren't there, but I do think it probably was a lucky escape.
This bonding on the tour came into its own on the return ferry journey, as they asked customer services to look for their team mates 'Phil McCavity', and 'Ben Dover'.
Light My Fire - The Doors - one of many Jim Morrison classics.