My journey has begun. Rucksack on my back, notebook in hand and credit card in pocket. Travelling light, you might think, but I just thought travelling with Shazza might require a certain fleetness of foot at times!
Perhaps I should say a little more about my Geordie travelling companion and satisfy your curiosity as to why a middle aged and happily married man can apparently dash out the house at the drop of a hat with the blessing and best wishes of Mrs Northern Light and embark on a trip to the World Cup with, it has to be said, such an eye catching and sometimes controversial younger lady such as Shazza. Well, who amongst you would pass up such an opportunity? The delights of travel across many countries, the prospect of World Cup football, guaranteed adventure, and all with a delightful companion who exudes such joie de vivre, ready wit and repartee, expressed with a dazzling intellect and the ability to put a stiletto quite firmly into one’s mouth. Or as Shaz would say, ‘Why, pet, I’ve dropped more bollocks than a knife wielding eunuch’s apprentice.’ So, now you are fully in the picture I shall continue.
I am writing this from the George V Hotel in Paris seated at a neat little Louis XIV baroque bureau by the open doors leading to a balcony overlooking the Champs-Elysees. A nice room I must say, with a huge four poster bed. No expense spared and such extravagance for our first night. Shazza is in a similar ‘modest room’ next door. All literally ‘no expense spared’, guests of some Arab pal she bumped into at the Gare du Nord.
I’ll start from the beginning. With rucksack packed I had caught the train from York to Kings Cross and then skipped over to St Pancras to meet Shazza. She had booked tickets on the Eurostar to Paris for the first leg of our journey and I was to meet her on the platform. She had not said where, not that it mattered as it turned out. You know that sinking feeling you get when you arrange to meet someone and you start to doubt they will turn up. I had just started to sink. All were on board the train and it was almost time to close the doors. Suddenly there’s a huge bellow from the barrier, followed by a “Howay, man, put yer arse in gear, canny mind all day I’ve a train to catch.”
There she was, Shazza. Her tall figure resplendent in a tight fitting T-shirt covered in all the flags of the World Cup nations, designer jeans and heels and pulling a Louis Vuitton suitcase on wheels.
“Well, don’t just stand and stare, pet. Help a lady to her seat.” With that we tumbled into our seats and with hardly a moment to spare we were off! Shazza was certainly off, snoring gently in her seat within seconds before I could even say a word. The man opposite just looked a little disapprovingly and buried his head into his newspaper. He soon came round and struck up a conversation. Politics. The new Coalition Government. Not so much a conversation, more a one way monologue. He did not like the idea of the Tories and the LibDems being in bed together. On and on he went. Suddenly the snoring to my left stopped, an eye fluttered open and fixed intently upon the man opposite.
“I’ll tell you what it’s like to be in bed with a LibDem. Knackering. And I should know. I’ve just left an all night sitting of the House. So if yers don’t mind…..”
As 10CC used to sing, ‘Paris is only one step away’.