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Memories of Paris 2001

by David Stevenson


Isn't air travel wonderful? It is so fast, once you have spent an hour or two sitting at Manchester Airport. Fortunately, someone decided I had a Business ticket [hehe!] so I spent the time quaffing free vodka in the Lounge. At Charles de Gaulle Airport they directed everyone wrong, made us queue interminably for passport control, and then sold me the wrong ticket on the Paris Metro after another 40 minute queue.

Eventually I reached my destination station, but the barriers refused the ticket and there was no attendant. Now what? Phone the helpline provided. They spoke perfect French, of course, but I don't. I tried my French, then my English. Nothing. Stuck for ever on the Paris metro..... I tried the helpline again. Suddenly a gate that had not been there a moment ago opened, so I shot through before someone changed their mind. Free!

Christina MacEachen and the group from Milan bought the same tickets, but they got caught by an Inspector and fined. She's very cute, so the Inspector just fined her and not the rest of the party! Perhaps someone could tell CDG booking office to where their Paris tickets are valid.

I was in Paris for an EBL Tournament Director's meeting, held in the headquarters of the FFB, the French Federation. It is a wonderful new building with offices, conference rooms, kitchens, bars and a playing area on the bank of the Seine. Max Bavin, the English CTD, was green with envy, and Rui Marques of Portugal said his federation's offices would fit into one of the bars.

On the Friday evening we set out for a drink. Nothing! It all seemed closed..... One of our party asked a passer-by in perfect French where the nearest pub was. "Sorry, mate, don't speak the lingo." he answered! So we tried English and he directed us to an Irish pub. Whenever anyone tipped the bar staff they rang a bell, which was quite fun.

On the Saturday evening we sat in the hotel and discussed Italian superstitions with Gianarrigo Rona, the EBL President, Christina, his PA, Jens Auken and a few Directors. Christine is Scottish, but her husband is Italian, and she told us that he shocked her by his reaction when she tried to put an umbrella up indoors: he nearly threw her out! She was also told to go home and change the day she appeared in the office wearing purple. Apparently the female Italian minister of sport had visited the Juventus players once wearing purple before an important match against a foreign team: Juventus lost, and questions were asked next day in the parliament as to why she deliberately sabotaged Juventus!

We were told all the things to avoid saying to Italians, like wishing them luck: Jens had his notebook out so that he knew what to say next time Denmark played Italy. I wish I could remember all of them: if you said various things to Gianarrigo he would get up, turn right round, and sit down again! Antonio Riccardi from Milan told us it was mainly Italians from the South who are superstitious. He was doing business once, and a southern colleague drove him 70 km to another town: on the way back a black cat crossed the road: now the colleague insisted on a detour and they had to drive 150 km over the mountains to get back.

We did a fair amount of work, setting up an EBL TD course for the autumn, and arranging for a register of EBL TDs, and various other things, but it was much more fun to go to Paris than Manchester for such a meeting!


Editor's note:

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