DUH DU DU DU DU DE DE DE DA! DUH DU DU DU DU DE DE DE DA! The monotonic ringtone of Put ’em Under Pressure that I’d downloaded onto my trusty Nokia 3210 the previous week crashed into my head like an ice pick as I awoke in a severely disorientated state.
The clock on the stereo beside the bed read 4.30am and the phone was flashing with Woggo’s name on the screen. I hit answer and was barely able to mumble a “Hello” before Woggo starting roaring down the phone at me. “GET UP OUT OF THAT BED NOW! GET UP, GET UP! I’M NOT GETTING OFF THIS PHONE TILL I KNOW YOU’RE UP! YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY TRASHED WHEN I RANG YOU AT HALF 10 LAST NIGHT SO GOD KNOWS WHAT STATE YOU WERE IN WHEN YOU GOT TO BED. MY DA IS DROPPING US TO THE AIRPORT AND WE’RE COLLECTING YOU IN HALF AN HOUR. YOU BETTER BE READY! ARE YOU UP YET???”.
“Yes,” I slurred as I bolted to the bathroom and threw my guts into the sink. Slowly the realisation hit that today was the day we were to set off on a 7am flight to London, then an 11.30 connection onto Munich and finally on to Tokyo for three weeks following the Boys In Green. How the hell had I let myself get into this state before even making it onto the plane?
Our flight was on a Monday morning and I’d been in great spirits all weekend looking forward to the trip. I’d been out on Saturday night which had turned into a bit of a late one but, having accompanied a few friends back to a party, I’d made my way home around 6am with an invite back up for dinner the next day following a goodbye snog from the hostesss at the door.
A few hours kip, stick the last of the clothes I’d left washing as I left the previous day into the tumble drier, back up to Broadstone for dinner and then hit town for some last minute shopping before coming home to finish packing and an early night. Perfect plan or so I thought.
All started well enough, up around 12 and shifted the white wash from washing machine to drier. Back up to Siobhan’s with a bottle of wine as a thank you for dinner. Very civilised.
Problem started when I got up to the house to find everyone in a delicate state following the previous night and declining my offer of a glass of wine. “A wee glass with dinner won’t hurt,” I told myself as I poured.
Following dinner a second glass followed as I settled down to watch the Monaco Grand Prix reckoning that I had time to take that in before heading into the city centre. A further glass got poured during the race and the bottle was practically finished by the time David Coulthard crossed the line in first place and I said my goodbyes to those present for the next month.
The guts of a bottle of wine aside, things were still relatively on schedule and I got through the shopping handy enough with a new holdall, a couple of retro Ireland shirts and various tee shirts purchased. I was about to move for home when my phone rang. It was Aido ringing from his apartment on Parnell St.
Like Woogo, Aido was a Bohs man that I’d shared many a trip, both with Bohs and Ireland with. “Come on T,” he said. “One or two pints in Conways to see you off, I’ve not seen you since the season finished.”
“I dunno, Aido, pissed last night and early start tomorrow, should probably get home.”
Maybe it was the wine or that rollover feeling you get after a heavy night the night before but after a little persuasion I said ‘fuck it, just the one though’, and made my way up to Parnell St. Bad move.
Having arrived up there about six, Aido and his flatmate Graeme were there already and before I knew it there was a pint in front of me and I was in a round of three. Two more pints followed and the craic was mighty.
Another call from Bailey, another pal of mine and he joined us. Then a further call from Helen and she came in to see me off as well. By 10.30 things were getting a bit hazy and I vaguely remember Woggo ringing to arrange the pick up the following morning and me reassuring him that I was fine which, funnily enough, he didn’t seem convinced by.
By 12.30 Helen took matters into her own hands and decided she better get me home. Reluctantly I said goodbye to the lads and stumbled over the corner where I’d left my new gear in the holdall I’d bought that day. No sign of it.
Cue spending the next 30 minutes stumbling round the pub checking every nook and cranny to see if I’d moved it somewhere but to no avail.
Nothing handed in behind the bar either so some little prick had obviously lifted it. I was fuming but after further persuasion from Helen had to give up on it and let her put me in a taxi back home.
I remember her leaving me at the door and stumbling upstairs where I tried to finish packing the clothes I had laid out on the bed before falling over my rucksack into the wardrobe and giving it up as a bad job. I fell into the bed and slept for what seemed like all of five minutes before Put ’em Under Pressure cut into my consciousness.
With Woggo having finally stopped roaring at me and hanging up, I looked into the bathroom mirror and splashed water on my face to try and wake myself up before jumping into a cold shower. My head was pounding, my stomach was churning and my mouth and throat felt like the Sahara.
“Thank Christ I’d already packed my passport and flight and match tickets,” I thought as I surveyed the bedroom and started chucking clothes into the rucksack while I dressed.
In what seemed like no time the phone rang again. “We’re outside,” said Woggo, “Time to go.” I zipped up the rucksack, hoisted it onto my shoulders and gingerly made my way down the stairs and out into the dawn light.
I was barely able to acknowledge Woggo’s da as I claimed into the back seat but was able to talk about three minutes later while we made our way out of the estate. “Shit, I left the 69ers flag behind, we have to go back!”
“Are you for fucking real?” was the reply from Woggo as his Da turned the car around. Back to the house, grabbed the flag and back into the car and we finally started moving through Drumcondra and out to the airport.
It was one of the most unpleasant car journey’s I’ve ever experienced. I could see Woggo’s Da looking at mein the mirror with a mixture of concern and pity as I gagged twice in the back but managed to keep it down before finally arriving at the airport whereupon I promptly opened the back door, fell out of the car onto the pavement and deposited what remained of the contents of my stomach onto the pavement.
The funny thing was that Woggo, who had been living in Scotland for the last few years studying and working, had a reputation for getting into horrendous states on trips over the years. Some of the lads had been on more trips with him in the years had been away and had been bigging this up in the run up to the trip.
“You’re going to the World Cup in Japan with Woggo? On your own? On the session? For three weeks?!” That was the mantra for the previous few months generally accompanied by a shake of the head. The fact that I was meeting other friends that would be arriving the next day and travelling Japan with us didn’t change the narrative.
Once we were rooming together that was it. Yet, here I was picking myself up off the pavement at the airport while his Da (an absolute gent of a man I have to add) looked down at me wondering what sort of reprobate he was sending his son away with!
I mumbled a goodbye and dragged myself and my rucksack into the airport to save myself further embarrassment. It was only five minutes later in the check-in queue when I realised that in my haste to get out of the car I’d left the fucking bag with the flag on it in the back seat.
Given that Woggo’s Da had no mobile phone, that was the end of that! Which then triggered a memory that all of my white clothes were still sitting in the tumble drier in the gaff. Not an auspicious start!
Having managed to make it onto the flight, I spent the journey to Heathrow shaking in my seat and while Woggo was getting stuck into the beers on the plane and in Heathrow itself as we waited for our connection to Munich, a curer wasn’t an option for me as I was struggling to keep some food down and trying to make myself feel better through willpower alone.
By the time we got to Munich, around 2.30 local time that afternoon, I had finally come around somewhat and managed a beer in the airport before knuckling down to our final 11 and a half hour leg of the air journey which managed to pass off without major incident.
So, things were starting to look up or so I thought as we disembarked in Tokyo. Both of us were pretty exhausted at this stage and still had to navigate a bullet train journey from Tokyo to Nagano where we had made our base for the first 11 days. So, the last thing I wanted to see as we made our way off the plane was an airline official standing there with my name in capital letters on a card and asking each passenger if they were Mr. Considine.
I made myself known and was told in very apologetic broken English that my luggage had gone missing in transit and they were attempting to trace it but it may be a few days before it would be found.
“Well, bollocks anyway,” I thought as I gave them a statement and contact details and realised that I’d be making the train journey to Nagano with only the clothes on my back and a tee shirt and shorts I’d drunkenly thrown into my hand luggage to get me through the next few days. Still, at least I had my passport, train ticket and match tickets so it could have been worse. And things had to look up soon. Hadn’t they?