Anyone who frequently reads these blog posts would quite reasonably be able to draw the conclusion that my life is not made up of a series of staggeringly exciting events. It is highly unlikely that there is going to be a cinematic release of the biopic of my life, and if such a film is ever made it will surely go straight to Netflix with a single star rating under the category: “Films only a completely mad fool who has exhausted all other forms of entertainment would consider watching.”
This post promises to make a mockery of such thoughts, however. Whilst ordinarily I have one single event to focus on when I make these trips to the football, this weekend could have produced exactly eleven different blog titles:
- The night I joined a choir
- The night I talked to a woman without making her cry
- The night I drank minty green shots
- The afternoon I sat at a table on the train opposite an attractive young lady and was vocally impotent
- The night I ate Malaysian food and couldn’t figure out how to use the chopsticks
- The night they played KISS in the hipster craft beer bar
- The night I found the best coffee and chocolate milk stout
- The day I didn’t eat a half-time pie
- The day the guy next to me jinxed the weather
- The day Celtic went an entire league season unbeaten
- The night the quiz ended prematurely
The weekend was blossoming with new experiences. It is often said that if life gives you lemons you should use them to make lemonade, but over the last few years I have been of the view that why would you want to wait until someone hands you a fruit which is fairly boring and not immediately pleasing when you could instead go out into the wild and pick all of the juicy and delicious berries you want.
It was with this fruit salad in mind that I made the drunken decision to go along to a ‘scratch choir’ on Friday night – an event where a group of people come together and learn how to sing a song from the beginning, in this case the audio treat being Erasure’s “A Little Respect” – and on Saturday to put aside my usual reluctance to dabble with unfamiliar ethnic cuisine by making an impromptu judgment to eat Malaysian food.
It was perhaps unfortunate that in my enthusiasm to savour life’s fruits I walked through the door of a restaurant and was greeted by a friendly busboy who directed me to a table suitable for a solo diner and handed me a menu, which I immediately recognised as being one for the Italian restaurant next door to the Malaysian place I thought I was entering. I sat fairly sheepishly at this table by the door, listening to the authentic Italian Muzak taunt me as I feigned interest in the menu and considered ways of leaving without it being too awkward. I contemplated inventing a story whereby my ‘friends’ had decided that they were going to eat elsewhere, but then I had already told this dude that I was going to be eating alone, and I looked very much like someone who would eat alone and so feared that he would see right through my web of deceit and insist that I order. The server returned and I panicked, my mouth operating far in advance of my brain by announcing that I had just remembered that I had already eaten this weekend and that I would have to leave. He looked baffled as I stood up and made a sharp exit, barely able to get my arm through the sleeve of my jacket by the time I had reached the door. My confidence was dented and I took a walk around the block before returning to the Malaysian restaurant next door, where I enjoyed what was at least my second meal of the weekend despite the adversity of trying to master the chopsticks.
Against the backdrop of a sky which was thick with grey clouds Celtic Park was a carnival of colour and noise on Sunday afternoon. I arrived in time to take part in the full stadium display in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions winning the European Cup, squeezing into my row between unfamiliar faces as every seat was taken. The older man to my left uttered some words which were not quite as incomprehensible as those spoken by the Northern Irishman who ordinarily sits close by, but his Irish brogue did require a second listen. He repeated: “It looks like the sun’s going to come out.” Three hours later I walked back into the city centre in a deluge of rain which soaked all the way into my skin. It was probably the only thing that was gotten wrong at Celtic Park this season.
It takes a little rain to help you grow, though, and Sunday was so strewn with historic happenings that drenched denim was never going to be cause for accepting lemons. A win for Celtic ensured that they became the first Scottish team since the 1890’s to complete a league season without defeat, and the first to do it in the modern 38 game era. A feat so phenomenal that it almost put into shade the fact that for the first time this season I didn’t eat a pie at half-time, so full was I from the two meals I had the previous day.
My first year as a season ticket holder at Celtic Park brought a lot of joy and some fun new experiences, even if I never did learn the name of the eccentrically dressed grey-haired man in the row in front of me, or find myself in romantic rapture with the most beautiful steward in the world. My seat may be located right underneath a drip on rainy days, and sometimes the pies have a frustrating habit of clinging dearly onto their foil tray, but you have to go picking berries. I can’t wait to do it all again in August.
Celtic 2-0 Hearts
JJ 1-0 Lemons