Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fixture, Tout, Derby . . .

So what do the words in the above subject heading have in common? Until less than a month ago, I would not have known either. Now I know they all have to do with soccer. Er, pardon me, football (English translation).

I always thought they spoke English in England but now I'm finding out they almost have a language of their own. Fixture refers to sporting game dates, touts are ticket brokers or "scalpers", and derby . . . well, I'm still not certain of the meaning there except that I'm taking my sons to the north London derby in less than a month.

Scott had been planning a last bachlor's fling, er, holiday (English translation) with his brother Greg prior to his upcoming marriage in May. Scott considered taking Greg to an English premier league soccer game as Greg has long been a fan of the Arsenal Football club in London and of English premier league football in general, but Scott nixed the idea because of the cost.

When I heard about it, I thought maybe we could make it a father-son bonding adventure as we'd not had one of these in a while. It wasn't an easy decision, however. I don't like to fly and haven't flown in 25 years. The cost of an extended weekend in London is more expensive than you'd think. And as you get older, you find it's easier to say, "No" to such adventures. Maybe just for that last reason, I decided to go for it.

So I have my hotel reservations, plane tickets and a package that includes tickets to see the Arsenal face off against the Tottenham Hotspurs, a game called the north London derby because the clubs' respective stadiums lie about three miles apart in northern London. It is a fierce rivalry, I'm told.

We would be sitting with the home team Tottenham fans, the Spurs, I understand and expected to support them, much to Greg's chagrin. I did post a question in a London on-line forum, asking whether it would be inappropriate under such circumstances to cheer on Arsenal. And what other do's and don'ts might apply to this English premier league match-up.

Good thing. My first response said, "Do not under any circumstances wear anything red or cheer for Arsenal--you'll be at best ejected from the grounds by stewards or worse, well, I'll leave that up to your imagination."

Yes, I can imagine. Got it. No red. And no cheering for Arsenal. A couple others warned me to refrain from using the word "soccer" though they said my seatmates might cut us some slack when they heard our American accent. Accent? What accent?

Yet another warned, "If the home team loses, there will be some angry individuals outside afterwards looking for 'some afters.' Best to just ignore them and move along." Okay, but what does that mean--"some afters." What are they after and how will I know it?

Looks like I need to bone up on my king's English vernacular a bit more before I go. I think I'm on my way. Somebody directed me to the cartoon below. I actually laughed. I got the joke. Pour me a pint of fizzy lager, I'm feeling more English already.


Blogger Lynilu said...

Definitely get the vernacular down before setting off.

A friend, transplanted from England with her American military husband, was a teen during WWII, and worked as a secretary at the American military base somewhere in England. One day she was late for work because she wasn't wakened by the man who came around with a long pole with a knob on the end who knocked on the window every morning. Seems the gent missed his rounds that day, and my flustered young friend rushed into the large office area, filled with Am. military personnel, and sputtered with embarrassment to her boss that she was sorry to be late because "the man didn't come to knock her up this morning."

She was mortified when the whole of the American staff collapsed into raucous laughter, and then again when she found out what that meant in the American language!!

I suppose that particular terminology wouldn't be a problem for you, but jus' sayin' ....

7:08 PM  
OpenID caroldee said...

HI DAVE Here's hoping your anti-freeze works.. we are headed for some colllld temps next week., Stay warm and well :)

8:37 PM  
Anonymous enforcer said...

Sound's like a riot!!!

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prediction: Scott learns what life is like in a British jail.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--I'm hoping that times have changed there in London and we'll have a more traditional wake-up call, rather than a knock on the window. You do have me worried though.

CAROLDEE--Thanks for the warning. Our furnace is older than dirt, so I just have to hope it's up to the task.

ENFORCER--Riot, eh. Riot as in the kind of riots that take place at football games sometimes? Or riots as in the kind of anti-Israeli riots they had in London this past weekend?

ANONYMOUS (??)--Don't predict that Scott's going to end up in a London jail just because he hails as a Michigan State student from East Lansing. I'm betting that he'll be more interested in the literary history of London--re-tracing the footsteps of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, etc. The student in him will flourish across the pond, and not just the MSU student.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

I would hope so, too, Dave, but if not, be sure *you* don't get knocked up!

7:19 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

I love soccer-maybe it's b/c I am a "true soccer mom". I even went to watch our son when he played on his fraternity college team. Yes, in the rain, wind, freezing cold and the blazing heat from the time he was 6 until he I broke my foot 2-1/2 years ago.

I also went on a "bonding" trip w/ our daughter, which was one of the highlights. we did NYC.

Here's hoping that your trip together is filled w/ great memories and stories to tell!

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you hate Tottenham Hotspur clap yer hands,
If you hate Tottenham clap yer hands,
If you hate Tottenham Hotspur,
Hate Tottenham Hostspur,
Hate Tottenham Hotspur clap yer hands.

Come on you Arsenal!!!!

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I'm pretty sure it's a safe bet he ends up in a british jail.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Best of luck for the trip Dave, DO NOT sign up for any "afters" those Pommy "soccer" hooligans play very rough.
My son Marcus has been a Spurs fan for well over 20 years.. so his older brother supports Arsenal just to nark him.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Geri said...

Holiday my foot. All the women know what you guys do on those bachelor flings.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--I plan to be VERY careful.

CARINE--My wife and I went to see our son play in a college intrumural game. Not many fans at all go to those. His classmates commented to my son that it was "cute" that his parents came to the game.

ANONYMOUS (Greg)--I went to the fan chant site and I can't decipher what they're saying. Probably nobody will know what we're cheering either, with the accent and all.

ANONYMOUS (think this is Gabe)--Better a British jail than a Costa Rican prison.

PETER--Hea, you understand the vernacular? Can we take you for a translator?

GERI--What happens in London stays in London.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OH WOW! You're actually DOING it! You're actually going to fly across the pond? Bravo to you! And all the more so because of not being fond of flying....but, you're DOING it! I'm impressed, Dave.
Hey, we reach an age where life's a true adventure, IF we partake of it. I'm very happy to see you're going to partake. And what fun and memories you'll have with your sons there. Keep practicing that King's English and you'll do fine.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens in London, stays in London. Well, could you 3 just stay in London?....Please.

7:51 PM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ I have a friend that I work with who lives in London. I am forever telling him that I wished to spoke English, but he isn't as bad as my ex-brother in law who had a cockney brogue that was almost NOT decipherable at times. I hope your holidays were nice? ~ jb///

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Scott will probably end up in a British Jail.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gabe here (my first comment by the way). Somehow I see this vacation looking like the Griswolds trip to Europe. Did anyone end up in jail in that movie?
Sounds like your trip will be very fun. I hope Costa Rica is recovered from the large earthquake they just had. It hit the area that we are staying the first 3 nights so we might have to do some humanitarian work on our vacation.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ How great for you to take a trip to London to 'bond' and enjoy a football match together. I hope you have a really great time. I like your stein and its inscription - -
'Careful, or you'll end up on my blog.'
Thanks for your comments. Your son did well with his stock. Sorry it is so very cold there. Zero F is `18C
We never get it that cold, thank goodness. We get a few -3 or 04 s but not THAT cold. Take care,
Have a wonderful trip and time with your sons. Regards, Merle.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

TERRI--I'm getting acquainted with King's English. For example, a loo is a toilet.

ANONYMOUS (1 & 2)--Now let's be civil. It'll be nice to be in England where EVERYBODY behaves. Scott will too.

LZ--I've been trying to learn some Tottenham cheers to sing at the game. Not easy, even without the accent.

GABE--Wow, planning on doing some humanitarian work during your own trip? I'll drink a toast to you from a London pub. You're the shining light of your family there.

MERLE--You wouldn't like it here today. Below zero fahrenheit.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

What, I didn't comment on this blog?

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:47 PM  

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