Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pride

engerland

Yesterday turned into one of those strangely memorable days that London can throw at you. A day of bizarre contradictions, unexpected moments of epiphany and the feeling that trouble was brewing and that you would find yourself in the middle of riot. It was always going to be a little strange, what with the World Cup Quarter Final between England and Portugal and European Gay Pride colliding in the middle of town.

The day started with the tube being startlingly empty. My guess was people were staying at home to barbecue and watch the game. As we got closer to the middle of town and the crowds began to thicken, a mixture of young men draped in St Georges crosses and other young men in tiny tiny shorts and exotic head gear, I knew I was in for an interesting day. The mood before the game was as ever one of pride from all quarters, mixed in with the red and white flags of England supporters where rainbow coloured flags and reworked union jacks, the red, white and blue reworked in a variety of pinks.

We were meeting some friends at Hush, which sits in a tiny courtyard behind New Bond Street and feels as far away from the crowds as you possibly can in the middle of Mayfair. It's one of those places that I never feel entirely comfortable in. The walls are festooned with pictures of vaguely famous people with one finger in front of their mouths (as in, shhhh) and it seems to be the preserve of men in loafers with no socks and expensive watches , plus gaggles of lunching ladies. The food is a bit on the unadventurous side but compentently put together; the girlfriend had a seared tuna salad which helped all the champagne down and I had some pretty lackluster sashimi, (see, that raw fish obsession is still in full swing) but sitting in the sunshine sipping my drink I didn't really mind, as soon we'd all be equals under the footballing sun.

pride2

We watched the game in Soho House, which not only provided us with ample seating, an obstructed view of a plasma screen and Portuguese bar maids but an excellent vantage point for people watching on Old Compton Street. The party was just kicking off when the game started, so the match commentary was always in danger being drowned out by "I Feel Love" which added to rather surreal experience. Now, I make no bones about the fact I was in Soho House. Yes, it is a private members club and frequented by more B list celebs that you can shake a stick at, but, fuck it, I got the invite and the thought of navigating any central London pub was too horrible to consider. So I got to watch the game in no small degree of comfort whilst chatting to probably the only Scotsman supporting England. No bad thing, considering I had to watch the Ecuador game in the backroom of a very dodgy pub by myself. I mean truly by myself since no other living soul seemingly had the bottle to go back there except dumb old me.

Misery. You'll have to forgive me a certain degree of moaning and gnashing of teeth. See, I get it worst than most. I always have the double whammy of both Spain and England getting knocked out of the World Cup. Everytime I get my hopes up to see them dashed, yet again. In fact, deep down I know it's going to happen. That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, that dizzy feeling as the adrenalin that's been pumping through you finally gives up, leaving you drained and empty, I know it is coming. I almost welcome it like an old friend. Football is really all about suffering. It's why we hate teams that are successful, that win consistently, finding any fault we can with them. We just hate to think that other people are not feeling that "gutted" at least some of the time.

Back on the streets and there was a rather marked contrast between those partying, celebrating their sexuality and those with red and white face paint on. Walking down the Charing Cross Road eating ice cream (frankly, the only thing to get myself and the girlfriend out of that football induced funk) I watched grown men cry and gay men dance. An emotional day all round


6 comments:

Sam said...

boo hoo your are making me homesick and I am going to start crying again. Thanks for the post, I wish I could have been there. I used to go to Soho house quite a bit, I am not going to admit it, but I do enjoy the smug feeling getting into a private members club give you. I fell down their stairs once, and somewhere, not quite sure where, there are photos to prove the imoressive bruise.

whenever you are in old compton street next, eat an Amato almond croissant for me!

keiko said...

Are they always so bad at PK? It was really disappointing.

mingerspice said...

I've been wondering - why is it that England is in the world cup as England when it's not really a country? What I mean is - as weird as it would sound, how come the team isn't called the UK team?

Sam said...

keiko - yes always bad at pk. its a curse.

mingerspice. england is really a country.
scotland is a country and so is wales too. (each with the right to enter the world cup - but they didnt qualify this time) these individual countries become Great Britain toegther and when N Ireland is added into the mix they are united into a nation. But they are all separate countries with their own flags.

risingsunofnihon said...

I wonder how many of those crying were cheered up by the dancing in the streets? Although I like your rememdy, an ice cream always does it for me!

Sam said...

monkeyG, where are you?

hope everything is ok, and just to let you know that at least one person in the world is missing your posts.