On their first holiday without parents, Solid Sam and ADHDave* took the ferry from the Netherlands to Newcastle. The 17-year-olds purchased a day ticket from British Rail and travelled as far as they could. Which was Dingwall, north of Inverness. They picked the local football club as their team to support for life. Fastforward 25 years. Sam and ADHDave are still best friends and FC Ross County play in the Scottish Premier League. One drunken night at our house, we discovered they’d play Celtic at home in the spring of 2022. I love Glasgow, visited a lot when I lived with a Glaswegian in England (back in the day when we used soap to spike our hair). The husband loves football, we all love pubs. We’d have to go.
Away at Celtic Park
Arrangements were made with children and (ex)-wives. Sam and ADHDave would only go if we could get tickets for the away section at Celtic Park stadium. “And you can’t get away tickets unless you collect them at the FC in Dingwall,” said Sam. “I emailed them and that’s what they said.” For days we tried just about every other route we could think of. Other football clubs, international connections, auction sites: no luck. Then I did a drastic thing and picked up the phone to call Dingwall. I put on my best accent and said I’d like four tickets tae the away game, but Ah could nae come an’ collect thaim. It wisnae a problem at aw, said the lovely lady on the phone. [Skipping the phonetics, they’re annoying]. We just had to keep an eye on the socials and they’d send the tickets to the Netherlands by carrier pigeon. Overjoyed I let the friends know the trip was on.
Cheap flights, cheap flights
Silence from ADHDave for two days. After much prodding he admitted he’d had some unexpected expenses and couldn’t really afford the trip. We called him an idiot for not saying something sooner and could turn the weekend into a birthday present. Guess what: Sam had said exactly the same. Problem solved, the trip was on! Flights were booked with EasyJet, an affordable place to stay was found and we waited patiently for the tickets to go up for sale. All was well.
Until the husband let us know that, after Brexit, ID’s were no longer enough to enter the UK. Proper passports were needed. This is when ADHDave discovered he wasn’t allowed a new passport until autumn. The Dutch authorities had decided he’d lost one too many travel document over the years. “We sometimes make an exception for special cases,” said the authority and ADHDave wrote a heart-wrenching email explaining why he should be allowed to go to Glasgow for a weekend.
They said no.
This was four days before we were due to travel. By then, husband and I both tested positive for Covid and were fervently wishing it would pass soon. Meanwhile, I phoned the Dutch customs police and explained one of our friends was an idiot. Could he get a note from teacher saying he was allowed out of the country for a few days? “Go to the airport and ask there.”
Two days before travel (we were still positive) Sam and ADHDave drove to the airport in the early morning, to request a teacher’s note from a row of burly men, fully armed, in royal blues and bullet proof vests. Apparently, they looked as impressive as a boat full of bears during the Amsterdam Canal Pride. They issued ADHDave with a temporary passport. The day before travel we tested negative. The trip was on. Again.
Ross County got trashed by Celtic, but that was to be expected and nobody cried. Not in our wee company anyway. The sun was shining, we had long walks and many beers in a marvellous city, and a good time was had by all.
Again with the Brexit
On Sunday, the two friends left to fly home. Husband and I were having romantic whiskies in Argyle Street when his phone went. Sam: “We’ve been refused to board the plane.” Travellers from non-EU countries (again with the Brexit) required a negative PCR-test max 24 hours before travel. We checked websites and boarding passes and there it was indeed, in the wee print. The next affordable flight was on the Wednesday. The boys came back to town. We changed our plane tickets too, extended our collective stay at the apartment and checked the data plan on our mobiles. The following mornings we pretended to be digital nomads. Meetings and interviews were held in the four corners of the apartment, since these days we’re all managers and self-employed professionals and what not. And I looked at the four of us, and wondered about the time that had passed since I spiked my hair with soap.
*not their real names of course