Shanghai Express

Being Shanghaied was something that used to happen to sailors when unscrupulous captains were looking to fill a crew for a voyage.

A man would go into a bar, people there would get him very drunk, and he’d awaken the following morning aboard a ship bound for the far east to pick up spices (and scurvy).

The modern, Tinman equivalent is to go out for a quiet drink and come home having committed yourself to go to a football match in England next Saturday.

I was out with a friend last night when his phone rang. His side of the conversation went “hello…what, why can’t he?…well, maybe we can get someone else…actually, hang on a second.” He then turned to me and said “how would you like to come to Manchester United v Sunderland on Saturday,” and yet again the derealised me heard a voice very like mine saying “sure, I’d love to.”

Now, I do like football, and have been to matches in the UK before. Indeed, this will be my eleventh game. But the first four were when I used to be sent to the UK for work, and was there anyway, and the later ones were reached through the medium of flight. I used to bring Tinson1 to a match each year as a Christmas present, then the last time we brought Tinson2 as well, and the tradition only ended the year I was blacking out, & we decided it probably wasn’t a good idea.

Each year we made an event of it, flying over and staying in a hotel both the night before and after the game. In other words, we did it in style, and, if we weren’t quite part of the “Prawn Sandwich Brigade” so denigrated by Roy Keane, we certainly weren’t the re-incarnation of old fans in flat caps with rattles. If anyone ever chanted “who ate all the pies” at us, we’d have to reply “well, not us, because we wouldn’t eat that crap.”

My friend and his three mates (well, two this week, which has opened the door for me) don’t do it that way. The match is on Saturday. They are leaving Ireland on Saturday, and leaving the UK on the way home on Saturday. And doing it all by car and boat.

As far as I can make out, the itinerary is: get up at six, get picked up at seven, drive to Dun Laoghaire, catch the boat to Holyhead, drive through Wales to Manchester, have a few drinks, watch the match, have a few drinks, drive back from Manchester through Wales to Holyhead, have a few drinks waiting for the boat, catch the boat back to Ireland (having a last few drinks on the boat) and then be driven home, arriving at 7am on Sunday (I should point out here that the driver is a non-drinker – we’re not totally mad). All that just for 90 minutes of football (well, 96 minutes, probably – it is United, after all).

As GoldenEyes here at work says, it sounds like the kind of weekend that four 25-year-olds would have. But, although I am the age of two 25-year-olds, I don’t have twice the drinking capacity, and I’m quite worried.

My mate is hoping that it’s a good game. I’m just hoping I don’t throw up in the car.

2 thoughts on “Shanghai Express

  1. Sean

    I’m sure Tinman and the Argonauts (or was it the Voyage of the Damned?) had an epic journey to Manchester and back. Must have been worth it to see Fergie explode (again) at the fourth official. At least one of the Ferdinands contributed to Utd’s season…


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