COLUMN: Ely Grumpster on St Patrick’s Day

The Ely Grumpster

The Ely Grumpster - Credit: Archant

March 17 (worst day of the year, unless you are Irish).

• At the time, it seemed like manna from heaven – a trip to Twickenham with my mate Crusher, for what should have been the grand slam decider against Ireland. The day arrives, nothing to play for and to cap it all, the slightly weedy son of the “Beast from the East” [let’s call it the grumpy gorilla from Grimsby] has rolled in and it’s back into thermals.

• On arrival at Ely station, it was as if Brangelina had rocked up as, true to form, Grim Northern trains hadn’t put on enough services and half of East Anglia was trying to get to London. Stood all the way – marvellous.

• Hooked up with Crusher at Waterloo and this time it was Grim Western’s turn to raise my blood pressure 10 points. Nowhere near enough trains, so 30 minutes of sardine-in-a tin hell. Those familiar with Twickenham station will know that it is a disgrace and an embarrassment, when you compare it to Cardiff or Paris: a building site, with exit routes so narrow that even Victoria Beckham would struggle to squeeze her scrawny frame through the miniscule gaps, let alone 500 rugby fans in thick coats and heaving beer guts. Jobsworths shouting contradictory instructions. 20 minutes to get out of the station!

• When we finally got to the ground, it was so cold in the open air bars that our hands froze to our pints. After the anthems, forty minutes of bladder-busting misery as England buried what little hope we had of an unexpected victory. Left in disgust at half-time.

• Then, the only decent part of the day: a cracking meal in Chinatown, washed down by a very decent sauvignon. Headed back into the artic chill at 9pm, aiming for the 9:44, so home soon after 11. No chance. Grim Northern struck again. Sat outside Foxton for 20 minutes behind a failed train, before heading BACKWARDS to Royston. Finally got to Cambridge at midnight, only for the driver to announce the train wasn’t going any further. Late running Norwich train got me to Ely at a quarter to one.

• Woke Doris to recount my tales of woe. “Poor old you, sounds awful, but nice for Ireland” she murmured. Before I could respond, she added the coup de grace. “Oh by the way, Mum has reversed into our car”. Thank-you and goodnight!