Our Lass and I decided on a little visit to the capital of Bohemia last weekend. It had been a couple of years since I was last there and Our Kid had never been there, so it was a big adventure, eagerly awaited by all. Well, maybe not by me because I’m not a fan of big cities although I was looking forward to catching up with some old friends. And probably not by Our Dog because I could see no evidence that she understood what I was talking about, either in English or Czech. And actually, Our Kid is just going along with whatever happens because he has no choice and pretty much everything is a big new adventure for him. But Our Lass was definitely buzzing with excitement and after a discussion about which train to take and how much baby stuff we would have to lug there and back and what time I could knock off work on Friday, we seemed to be set for the big trip.
Everything was set, bags were packed, trains were selected, timetables consulted and customers contacted with finalised times for meetings on the morrow. Our Lass would have all morning to sort Our Kid out and I would have a comfortable 2 hours after work to get home, shower, change and get to the station. What could possibly go wrong?
‘Oh NOOOO!!!’ howled Our Lass, just as I was about to turn in. ‘Banik are playing Sparta tomorrow, we have to take a different train!’
Banik Ostrava and Sparta Praha, to give them their full names, are soccer clubs. Anyone who grew up in Britain during the 70s and 80s will know the type. A bunch of hooligans pissed out of their minds chasing one another through the streets of whichever town their ‘team’ is playing in until they get arrested or beaten senseless by the opposition. After getting out of jail or hospital they may read the result of the match in the paper but that wasn’t really the point of going. Soccer’s for girls anyway, real men rip the seats out of the stadium and slash each others’ faces with utility knives…. ‘Oi, me and Stanley want a word with you!’
So, late at night and with no time to rearrange the times of all my meetings, I realised I would have 45 minutes to get home after the last meeting, load up with bags and Kid Stuff and get to the station. The thought of sharing a 3 hour trip with a trainload of drunken Neanderthals is never a nice one, even less so with a wife and kid in tow. I’m not sure that Banik or Sparta have ever elevated the art of thuggery to the widespread level of some of the British hooligans of 30 years ago but that’s probably what they aspire to. I’ve never heard of an Ostrava Smile before but I have seen Silesian Headhunters sprayed on walls in some of the less salubrious parts of town.
So Our Lass and I settled for an earlier, faster and traditionally more peaceful train (the tickets cost too much for the yobs) and left before Banik and the police started disputing ownership of the streets. If discretion is the better part of valour then our departure for the bright lights of Prague positively slunk through the shadows. Personally, I like a good slink.