England 1 Russia 1

Later the same day we set out in search of the Irish pub. The matches here start at nine, so we had already eaten, ham and cheese sandwiches made from two excellent bread rolls, and were looking for a bar. It was still early when we arrived, but the outside tables were rammed with our fellow English supporters, finishing their evening meals in front of the wide screen TVs. John went boldly into the bar and found us an entire screen to ourselves in a boothed corridor to the toilets. We sat in one of the booths sideways on to the screen with a beer each. For a long time we sat in splendid isolation. Occasionally people would wander through for the toilets. One pair of girls looked round and asked why they weren’t sat in here with the air con, but they obviously failed to sway their companions on the matter. Eventually a solitary Englishman came over with his pint and sat in the booth behind us. John asked if he could see and he assented. The three of us settled down for the anthems. The bar maid came over with menus and three very glamorous looking girls and sat them in the booth next to ours. They ordered food and a bottle of wine. Russians.

The game started. England played well, did all the things they normally frustrate you by not doing, including scoring. The Russian ladies were passionate, but desponding. The one behind me blew kisses to their goalkeeper each time he made a save. He seemed to make quite a few. We all shouted and groaned for our teams, while politely ignoring one another. Occasionally people waiting for the toilet stood watching and on occasion John had to speak up for our fellow Englishman when they stood in his view. As the match drew to a close the Russian trio was more subdued. We English were also rather quiet, knowing what we are capable of. Sure enough, just before the end came the sucker punch. The ladies were ecstatic. The final whistle blew and we three Brits shook our heads and shrugged. The Russians whooped and squealed. A small balding fellow Russian wearing Harry Potter glasses  came over and took each of their hands between his own in turn, nodding happily at them. We concluded glumly with our fellow Anglais that we would just have to beat Wales and came away.

Tomorrow we are heading off down the Riviera, blink and you will miss it.

















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