As you've probably heard by now, my trip to London wasn't all about museums and art galleries, I also managed to take in a football match , mostly because S., who I was staying with, is a football fan and it was either watch the match with her or spend the next two days sleeping in the Tube station. S.'s original plan was that we would go to a pub and watch the match from there, thus making it a quintessentially British experience, but she thought the better of that after I pointed out to her that a) I had no medical insurance in the UK b) as my host she was honor bound to defend me against any and all hooligans trying to batter me to pulp and c) my comments during football matches tend to be along the lines of "Oooh! he's cute!". So instead we settled for watching it from the privacy of her home, with, in deference to her Amriki visitor, a ready supply of beer and chips laid on for the event.
Here's roughly how it went (times are approximate):
7.45 pm: Turn on television. Players coming out on field. Get told by S. that 'we' are going to be cheering for Chelsea. Look appropriately enthusiastic. Ask for beer.
7.50 pm: Match begins. Ask for second beer.
7.55 pm: Ask for third beer.
8.02 pm: Give loud cheer for Chelsea and ask for fourth beer. Wonder why you ever thought football was dull.
8.10 pm: Chelsea scores!! Cheer loudly.
8.11 pm: Get glared at by S. Discover that Chelsea is the team in BLUE. Realize you've been cheering for Man U all along. Ah well.
8.15 pm: D. (who's joining us for dinner) arrives. Discover she doesn't much care for football either. Convince S. to mute volume on TV set so we can have conversation. Point out that the commentators are a bunch of idiots anyway and an aficionado like her should form her own opinion by watching the match with the sound turned off. Reward S. for seeing the logic of this by getting fifth beer yourself.
8.22 pm: Glance at TV while reaching for chips. Notice score is now 1-1. Chelsea must have scored at some point. Mention this casually to S (who is busy on the phone ordering food - at least the girl has her priorities straight) and go back to conversation with D.
8.32 pm: Glance away from D for a moment and give out loud bellow! S. has just kicked over the bowl of chips! Foul! foul!
8.42 pm: Glance at TV to make sure score is still 1-1.
8.55 pm: Decide to make effort to watch match. After all, it can't be that bad.
8.57 pm: Biryani that S. has ordered arrives. Forget match. Focus on food.
9.05 pm: Glance at TV to make sure score is still 1-1. Make polite comment about match to S before asking her to pass the raita.
9.20 pm: Glance at TV to make sure score is still 1-1.
9.25 pm: Glance at TV and notice that it's raining in....wherever the match is. Watch game with renewed interest, having realized that the only thing better than a bunch of cute guys running about in shorts acting all butch is a bunch of cute guys running around in soaking wet shorts acting all butch.
9.35 pm: Players seem to have given up on playing football and are standing around playing a really violent game of charades. One guy is waving something red. Ask S. if this is a good thing. Withdraw question hastily after you see look in her eyes.
9.45 pm: Penalty shoot-outs! Yaay! Wonder why they bother with the hour and a half of people running around and elbowing each other when this part is so much more fun.
9.50 pm: Watch penalty shoot-outs thinking fondly of your days being goalkeeper during PE period back in school . Wish all those doubting Amits who argued that you weren't doing it properly were here now so you could show them that diving gracefully to the left while the ball is flying right is, in fact, a perfectly legit football move.
9.51 pm: Laugh wildly at guy taking penalty kick who manages to miss the goal entirely. Stop in mid-cackle because the guy is from Chelsea and S. is now looking positively murderous. Console yourself with knowledge that you were going to sleep on the couch anyway, so you have nothing to lose.
9.55 pm: The match is over! Someone has won! The guys with the goalkeeper in green ! Yaay! Yaay? Oops, Man U won. Look suitably crestfallen. Bitch about the unfairness of the umpires (what's that? they're called referees - ya, well, same thing) and the stupidity of having penalty shoot outs.
9.57 pm: Have awwww moment watching cute guy you've had your eye on through the match dissolving into tears. Restrain yourself from saying "Come to Papa!" out loud.
10.00 pm: End of match. Console S. by pointing about that it's just a silly national tournament - it's not like it's the World Cup or something.
10.01 pm: Discover that it's actually an all-Europe tournament and is pretty much the biggest cup these clubs can compete for. Oops!
10.02 pm: Display sensitivity and tact by refusing to talk about the match and / or football anymore. Change subject to talking about art galleries and museums. Make mental pledge not to talk about football at all for the rest of your trip. All in the interests of taking S.'s mind off it, of course.
 I mean, of course, real football. Not the blink-and-you-missed-it, guys-wearing-the-kind-of-shoulder-pads-that-went-out-in-the-80s variety they play out here in the barbaric West.
 See here.
 Seriously, why is it that goalkeepers in football never seem to have uniforms that go with what the rest of their team is wearing. Is there a union of football uniform makers who will only work in multiples of 10 or something? And how hard could it be to find something to wear that at least vaguely approximated your team's colors. Can you imagine if the same thing happened in cricket. There would be the Indian team, arrayed all around the field in their trademark cheap distemper blue - all except for the Wicketkeeper who was wearing a shiny magenta number with a pearl choker under his helmet.