Mr Williamson asked me to fill in for him this week. He’s very busy in Tokyo “working” i.e. hanging out at the Apple store, dining at Birdland (the best yakitori place on the planet) and shopping at my favorite Tokyo housewares store (Tokyu Hands) for a second toothpick holder for me so that I have a matching set. (If you’re reading this, dear, feel free to throw in a surprise – a hard-boiled egg mold in the shape of Hello Kitty might be nice.)
Disclaimer: I’m more of an editor type than “creative.” I can’t think of anything interesting to say about Scottish football (Billy: neither can I, usually), and Billy’s suggestion to write about “being Mrs Williamson” would put anyone to sleep. So I thought I’d just share a couple of my most memorable experiences on the road with The Tartan Army.
Netherlands v Scotland, April 2000
We arrive in Amsterdam, next morning take the train to Arnhem and walk right into a square chock full of jolly, hairy-legged Scottish fans singing and drinking their hearts out. The scene felt like a reunion – most people seemed to know one another. I even ran into someone I once met, the man who is partly responsible for Mr Williamson and I being together. I thanked him profusely and drunkenly, but he had no idea what I was talking about, and I couldn’t even remember his name.
Mingling with the Scottish fans were the always-friendly and even more inebriated Dutch fans. Being of 50% Dutch extraction myself (Sneek represent!), I decided to pretend I was a Dutch supporter for the day. My disguise consisted of an orange jumper along with a very smart inflatable orange crown provided by a local bank. I was also prepared to slip in few key Dutch phrases I learned from my Dad while growing up: “Snert how you brookfast” (“Pea soup – hold your pants!”); “You’ve got the aaaz ooot” (which he’d tell us when we were pouting or in a bad mood, but literally means sour mouth, I believe); “Du bist un schveinhund” (my Dad meant it as “you’re an ass”, but it’s literally pig dog); and “Panakooken, panakooken, ja ja ja!” (“Pancakes, pancakes, yes yes yes!”).
Unfortunately I never got a chance to use my Dutch language skills, but I must have fooled the locals anyway, because an orangeman (not that kind) mistook me for one of his own. As I was walking down the stairs from the toilet (a bonus of Scotland games is that the ladies’ toilets rarely have a line), a couple of grinning male Netherlands fans stopped me, and one of them said something in Dutch. I smiled back and apologised that I didn’t understand. So, being European and knowing more than one language, he kindly translated for me: “Your breasts are very small, but I like them!”
I don’t remember much of the game, but I think Scotland lost (Billy: we drew 0-0). Immediately after the game, however, something really special happened, which is forever etched – no, burned – in my memory. There was a perspex fence between the supporters and the pitch, and a daring Scotsman decided to try and climb it. He got pretty far up but, in the end, slipped and dropped down. He fell right at our feet, so we had a front row view of his kilt over his head, exposing his frank/beans and hairy arse for all the cheering fans.
France v Scotland, September 2007
Another memorable experience took place during the France game in September 2007. It was the first time I had ever been to Paris and, being a cynic and thinking New York was the greatest city in the world, I was sceptical. My friends wouldn’t shut up about how romantic it was going to be, and I was sure I’d prove them wrong.
The first night we were there, we lamed out and decided to partake in one of our favorite hobbies: watching television. As we were flipping through channels, we stopped at a bizarre, psychedelic-looking program with singing, dancing, cockneys, and a talking ape. We sat mesmerized for a couple of hours, watching “The Mighty Boosh” for the first time. Right then I had a feeling that maybe my friends were right about Paris.
The day of the game. I know a lot of fans enjoyed the march to the stadium, but it seemed to take forever and I probably bitched and moaned to Mr Williamson the whole way (Billy: we didn’t take part in that march; we sat in a cafe near Gare du Nord all afternoon and got the subway to Parc des Princes, arriving just before kickoff). Once we were inside and I could sit down and have a beer, things started to look up.
As everyone knows, Scotland beat France. I can not only remember the actual game itself, but also the nickname of the player who scored, because one of our friends was almost in labour and Mr Williamson and friends were texting the father-to-be that he should name the kid Faddy if it appeared that day (Billy: child appeared and was christened Abigail – why, Malky, why?). But what really convinced me that Paris was wonderful was the look on Mr Williamson’s face. I had never seen him so elated! It was by far the happiest I had ever seen him, and I have yet to see that look of joy again (Billy: because we have yet to have as good a result again!). They say that Paris is for lovers, and my man would say it’s true – for lovers of beautiful moments in football.
Photo Credit: Peter Macdonald