These days we travel with computers, mobile phones, tablets and so on, which means that it could not be easier to keep in touch with events back home when we are overseas. Very importantly, this means you can find out the football results as soon as you could if you were at home; no more hoping to get a dodgy signal from the BBC World Service during one of the three sports bulletins they broadcast every 24 hours.
Many times on holiday abroad in the previous century (see how old that makes this phenomenon, and me, sound) I’d contemplate whether it was worth forking out an unreasonable sum of money to buy a British paper in order to find out the footy scores.
And it wasn’t only me. One guy I knew went on a fortnight’s holiday to Spain on the Saturday that his team were playing away to their main local rivals. (The fixture list hadn’t been released when he’d booked his trip.) By Sunday afternoon, it was no use – he was beside himself and decided he’d have to buy a British newspaper to find out the score. He knew he couldn’t go on like this for almost another two weeks.
He bought the paper and, tremulously, turned to the sports pages. The result was there, only in small type; just the score, no details. His team had won 6-0. He couldn’t believe it. He was ecstatic. The rest of Sunday was a celebration.
The euphoria lasted two more days. By Wednesday morning it had been replaced by something else. Disbelief. They couldn’t possibly have won 6-0. Away! In that game! No chance. The newspaper had surely got it wrong. There had been a typo. It should have read 0-0. Or, far worse, 6-0 to the other team, which on the face of it would have been the more likely outcome.
By Friday morning he had resolved there was only one thing he could do. He’d have to ring his mate, who he knew had been going to the match, to find out the score. Amassing a significant number of coins to make the phone call that would either revive or ruin the rest of his holiday, he got his friend at home. Within seconds he’d had it confirmed: they had won 6-0. Before the phone gobbled up the rest of his cash, his friend had got quite some way into his description of what was, “without doubt”, the greatest day he’d ever had at a football match. When the money had run out and the he’d hung up, he realised his feelings had not been revived. He should have been at the match, not on this sodding holiday.