It is funny how fast time passes. I had been saving this post up for a reason, and then I almost missed the time slot. Thanks very much to Rob Smyth for reminding me of this.
The other big event of the first year that Helen and I spent together – other than completing her workbook – was the 1990 World Cup. Even people who weren’t born at the time now know this as the tournament where England lost to Germany on penalties in the semi-final, and Paul Gascoigne cried.
It didn’t quite happen like that, of course. England were not very good for most of the tournament, were forced to change tactics midway through it and, come the knockout stages, struggled to beat Belgium and almost lost to Cameroon.
On the other hand, a game against Germany – or West Germany, as they still were – was a contest worth savouring for all sorts of obvious reasons and I, along with a good chunk of the population, was looking forward to the game.
I was therefore very surprised when I was given that day off of work. As were the other members of staff at the branch of Oddins that I worked at. Hal, the manager, was not a sports fan and it seemed that the whole World Cup had entirely passed him by. Either he hadn’t realised that we might be busy that day, or he was being needlessly generous to those of us who wanted to see the game (the match started almost two hours after we closed, ample time to get home or to the pub).Whatever the reason, he decided that he was going to man the shop on his own that day.
The scene that greeted us when we opened the next morning had to be seen to be believed. It looked like the store had been burgled. There was stock everywhere, the beer supplied were almost all gone, and the fridges were empty apart from a few bottles of a bizarre tonic drink named Purdeys that had been there since Francis, the old assistant manager and the only person I ever met who drank it, had left. Even in the so-called ‘commercial district’ of town (i.e. the bit where the offices were), Hal had been overwhelmed, like a hapless hedgehog who had some how strayed onto the M6.
I have no idea how much of the stock that went was actually paid for. I like to think that most of it was. I know that we had a pretty easy few days until the next week’s delivery, because we had almost nothing left to sell. Goodness knows what we would have done had England made the final.