Adultery, When is it acceptable?

When your girlfriend encourages you to do it, that’s when. Ever since the move to Rome became concrete one of the things that I looked forward to was the chance to watch regular top-level football in another country. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Italian game ever since James Richardson stole my football heart all those years ago with his witty wisecracks and big gellati. I’d been to watch the giallorosso a few times already and almost always seen a truly shite game, bar the thrilling 2-1 comeback against AC Milan last season but always enjoyed the atmosphere; the constant singing, the passion for their club and the fact that groups of mates went together and weren’t all doddery whiny 40 year olds. In short, what it used to be like for me at Chelsea. There were even some fascists to make me feel at home. Then the chance to actually buy a ticket in the Curva Sud came up and I had second thoughts. Buy why, asked Spangles (my girlfriend, who from now on I shall be referring to thus)?

The Curva is supposed to be the place where the most passionate fans gather and sing and chant and bounce and all that. But more than that, these people really care about their team the same way I care about Chelsea. I used to hate it when people would sit in the Matthew Harding end and not join in with the singing or not look like they cared that much. Don’t get me wrong, I want Roma to win and everything and if I was going to pick a team in Italy it would be them, but they’ll never be my team, not really. I’ll never feel that level of dejection with Roma as I did when Liverpool knocked us out of the Champions League last April and I’ll never experience the unadulterated joy of getting our own back a couple of months ago. I’ll never be able to really hammer out Grazie Roma the way I used to bawl Blue is the Colour after a great win, or join in pre-match with Roma, Roma, Roma like I did with The Liquidator. What right did I have to be in front of some kid who’s wanted a season ticket in the Sud all his life in the queue? If the roles were reversed I’d be fuming.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday morning I found myself in the queue for season tickets, which went on sale at at midday at all eight Roma shops in the city and at various shops that were authorised ticket sales points. As there was one of these shops two minutes walk from the flat we walked past it on the way to the market; at 10am there were a grand total of four people outside. Contrast that with the number of people who had gone to the Roma stores the previous night to queue for tickets and I was pretty confident of getting my hands on one. I thought I was onto a winner, and come September I was going to be feeling slightly uncomfortable in other people’s territory, maybe even getting bundled every time Roma scored.

So I stroll back there at about ten past 11 and the queue has stretch to a humongous nine people, including three really fit girls. I was feeling bold and had a croissant for breakfast so I decided to ask people what the deal was, in Italian, but instead of being flirted with by three hot young things who just love shiny pates and the lived in stomach a short, portly middle-aged man pointed me to the piece of paper on the wall with a list of names on. I plonked mine at number ten and thought I’d proffer some sort of conversation, even though he had a wild stare and dribble down his chin. This is your chance to translate along with The Liquidator! Go on, get Babelfish on the go and please tell me if I accidentally offered my arsehole up to a bunch of strangers.

‘Sono di Londra.’ (this provoked a look of shock and awe in him)

‘Wow, Londra??’

‘Si, sono tifoso di Chelsea’

‘Woooooooow, Chelsea.’ (he gave me the same look, I was starting to think he was taking the piss.) Perchè sei qui?’

‘Mi ragazza è una tifosa della Roma, e nella Curva Sud ogni stagione.’ (this provoked a laugh from everyone there, I just realised I’d told everyone I was firmly in the position of ‘bitch’ in my relationship.)

‘Lei è Italiana?’

‘No, mezza Italiano e Inglese. Abito sulla Via ***** ****.’

Buono eh? Before I’d let myself get too far over my head I slipped my iPod on and made myself look like I was listening to the most totally happening and latest London sounds, when in fact I was listening to the Buzzcocks. As the minutes ticked by and midday inched closer to us with everyone fell into a nervous silence, worrying about whether they were going to get a ticket or not. The three girls’ cheery chit chat died out and was replaced with cold, hard and stony stares at the door, broken only when one of their mother’s came over to hand them the money, before being shooed off as soon as she tried to strike up a conversation. Nothing like an uncool mother cramping your style around tall sexy strangers I suppose. While the girls were basically on their marks by the door, the rest of the group switched between stalking the pavement, sitting on their scooters and peering in expectantly through the doorway, blocking it for people coming in to buy fags or scratchcards. The dribbly guy kept looking at me.

Halfway through More songs about Chocolate and Girls by the Undertones I was barged into by number one on the list, a tall (well, shoulder high on me) and rather fat guy who had no idea he’d even walked into, as though everything in his vision had become blurred around his target; the counter in the shop. He had a mildly disconcerting stare that wasn’t dissimilar to Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. I was half expecting him to passive-aggressively toy with the girl in the shops’ life, fuck knows what would have happened if he hadn’t have got the five tickets he wanted.

By now everyone was practically twitching on the spot. It was taking ages to every person, partly because everyone was trying to get tickets in the central section (no chance), or with their mates, and also because the woman dealing with the ticket queue was arse-clenchingly slow. All we could think about were the people at the Roma shops being dealt with quicker and more efficiently, whizzing through customers while we watched this poor thing struggle with the buttons, the forms, the money, everything. Fifteen minutes later we were still only halfway through the tiny queue, with the silly cow stopping midway through serving the hot girls to help an old lady choose a notebook. ‘Jesus woman, what’s she gonna write on it, her will? Make her wait!’ I would have said if I had the balls and the language skills. Then a woman came in for some photocopying, and another came in for a wallet…. Meanwhile the man on the other till just stood there and watched, laughing, enjoying our anxiety, like the massive twat he was. ‘Anyone for the Curva Nord?’ He laughed from his big crusty gob. Very fucking funny, look at us cracking up over here, you bullock headed tosser. Yeah, so I was tetchy about getting a season ticket to a club I don’t support, so what?

A full forty minutes after opening sales we got down to me, the tenth customer. My knees were wobbling with exasperation and we had been joined by a couple of Lazio fans, who clearly have never had to worry about not getting tickets for anywhere. I was expecting a horrible strangled conversation where I try to explain that I want to be *here* and she looks at me blankly, horrified by my missed definite articles and wrongly gendered sentence cappers, while the one poor chap behind me suffers the coronary he’s been threatening since plonking himself practically up my backside. Instead less than 30 seconds later I have a ticket in my hand and weird feeling in my stomach. I feel a bit dirty that I cared so much, that I got swept up in the desire for a place among the ultras, the flags and the general rowdiness. So here it is; my season ticket for the Curva Sud at Roma.

I can’t wait for the new season.

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7 Responses

  1. Aòòò! Now you just need some shit trainers, a baseball cap and a mania for knifing strangers in the buttocks and you’ll fit right in.

  2. Mild knifings only, please.

  3. Well done, lad.

    Spangles forgot the bomber jacket (with fur trim for when it goes below 20).

    I should have lent you my “Milano in Fiamme” t-shirt.

  4. Nah, I’m not getting into any of the rivalries yet. I can’t bring myself to hate Inter with José in charge and I quite liked Milan as a kid, mainly because of Baresi and the San Siro, which looked like a spaceship that you could play football in to my 11-year-old self.

    Lazio are a bunch of tossers, but the fascism-Roma Venn Diagram is slowly shifting inwards so I can’t exactly slag them off for that. Even Juve have good old Ranners in charge.

    I know, I know, I’m rubbish.

  5. Was supposed to be a gift for the missus.

    To sleep in, like.

    You’re hopeless.

  6. I wasn’t aware this even existed Terry. Yes, it’s mostly sensible ‘When Saturday Comes’-esque stuff, but your marketing/ PR team needs a serious kick up the arse – where’s the internet advertising campaign and the hard-hitting television commercials. Time for heads to roll…

    The James Richardson reference is the real reason I’m responding (though I’m sure this comment will twat-up in some way when I press ‘send’ and I’ll not bother re-writing) – he presents a very good podcast for The Guardian. Well worth checking out. He’s stolen my heart all over again.

    While I’m here, see the following link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2540221/Spanish-basketball-red-faced-over-slit-eyed-Olympic-photo.html

    When will the PC police let it go?!

    Hope you’re enjoying Rome,

    Andrew

  7. There’s nothing sensible about this blog Winstone. It’s fucking crazy, just you wait. I didn’t want to turn this place into somewhere mates of mine could scrawl ‘uR GAY lolZ’ all over the place like the semi-literate monkeys they are.

    Rome’s good by the way. Am gonna be back in the UK soon for a week or so if you fancy a beer.

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