By request

I had an email from a fan today regarding ASLNM. Most unusual. The person asked me would I put this bit up so someone they knew could see it. Even more unusual. Still, I am an obliging authorclient so here it is (it’s from the early part, though I guess that is self-explnatory…)

# 1. Thirty-eight Games from Safety: Bolton (a)

This is what I thought the Premiership would be like: like visiting Monaco. Monaco is fascinating for an hour, or maybe two, but it takes no longer than that before the (full) realisation dawns that it is money, and money alone, that matters here. Monaco is a nauseating place full of nauseating concepts: if you’re the owner of a cruiser with a helipad then you’re a somebody, otherwise, you’re not. Having said that, I was once part of a collective of five Stoke fans who ate an excellent, and reasonably priced, lunch at a panoramic restaurant on the Virage du Portier. At the end of the meal we were the last diners in the place and we killed time talking to the waiters about the Grand Prix which led on to conversations about les femmes, le football, and other important matters. At ground level, as it turns out, there are real people in the principality.

Bolton is nothing like Monaco. In Bolton there are real people everywhere. Some of the residents of Bolton go beyond the real into the realm of the hyper-real. It is the ban against smoking indoors that deposits these hyper-real residents into the unforgiving glare of daylight, and we will meet them shortly. Meanwhile, Jack, who has a business managing and promoting a grime (rap) artist called Tinchy Stryder (who is not widely-known as we head to the north-west, but who will have a Top 5 single by the time we are beating Manchester City) had spent a good part of the four-hour plus journey not answering his phone. He was not answering it to one specific caller who repeatedly re-dialled, number withheld. It would be a disgruntled client, one who hadn’t received their ‘Star in the Hood’ Tinchy t-shirt, Jack said. We were discussing how he might improve his organisation so that members of the general public received their merchandise more efficiently. This was how I managed to miss the slip road that would have taken us directly to the Reebok Stadium. This was how we found ourselves in the downtown area of Bolton. Bad traffic all the way from Norwich had meant that we were running late anyway, it was two-thirty now, and the sidewalks were littered with groups of derelict men. The sun was high in the sky and it threw the men into ghastly relief. It was here that the effects of the smoking ban could be observed in their full horror. The reason for Snug bars is to keep people like these off the streets. Jack let the window down at a red light and asked one of these groups the way to the ground. Close up they were as derelict as they were from a distance, if not more so, with an added touch of the music hall tramp as rendered by Toulouse-Lautrec.
‘What?’ one of the tramps said, leaning forward. The veins on his faces were like boot marks in ice.
‘The football,’ we shouted, a word that only provoked further puzzlement. ‘Bolton Wanderers,’ Jack called out, as an additional clue.
‘No, no, no!’ They all joined in now. ‘There’s no football played round here,’ they said, ‘Hasn’t been for years: Charlie. That’s where they wants to go. Charlie. They play football in Charlie.’
‘Where’s that?’ Jack shouted, an enquiry that provoked an un-rehearsed and un-coordinated choreography as the various arms of the various tramps wind-milled around. Based on this charade, Charlie could have been anywhere. The lights changed and we drove away from the side-effect of the smoking ban, a horror show which has thrown the entrails of the drinking man out onto the outside world, where he does not belong. A hundred yards on we cornered by a BMW garage, which I looked at. I was thinking about a new car; now I was a Premiership fan, I needed an upgrade to go with my elevated status, an upgrade perhaps equipped with Sat Nav (though Sat Nav is a concept I dislike, it would surely make life predictable, like Pulisball, and you would miss out on sideshows such as the inhabitants of Bolton on a Saturday afternoon).
‘What the hell were they saying?’ asked Jack. He might support Stoke City, but his ear is tuned into the patois of rap and grime, and to southern vowel sounds. I asked him look at the map to see if there was anywhere round there called Chorley…

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15 Responses to By request

  1. OS. says:

    I can think of only one person who, while they were having a ball in Monaco, would go into deep thought about the ethics of the place. I need to have a talk with the boy…if I can get him off his Blackberry. 😉


  2. sean evans says:

    hello stephen
    im just writing to say that i absolutely loved this book and it inspired me to become a stoke city fan (im a chelsea fan and have supported them since i was 6,im 14).i was just wondering though,do you think its ok for me to switch clubs like that just because of a book?well thats the thing,its not all because of the book.ive just lost all my love for chelsea and to be honest they’re too quiet at games.but ive fallen in love with the stoke support since i read about them in your from ireland by the way.

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    Hi Sean

    Glad you liked the book so much – that’s a tremendous decision you’re making there & one I can wholeheartedly endorse :–)

    Also there is an added bonus – I don’t know whether you’re in the north or the south, but either way Stoke players Glenn Whelan and Liam Lawrence will be playing for the Republic this weekend and the following week in the play-offs v France.

    Good luck & Gooooooaaaaaaaarrrrrrrnnnnn Stoke!

  4. sean evans says:

    lol thanks for the reply. im from the south and will definitely be going to watch the boys in green get stuffed lol.i just bought your other book,she stood there laughing (for 14 euro by the way!lol), and its just as good as this one.its a bit weird supporting a club that just lost 2-1 to hull especially after leaving one that beat united 1 0 lol.
    and i also just bought the stoke jersey and im wearing it as i write this!


  5. OS. says:

    Welcome to the Stoke City fold, Sean. I just need to teach you how to hate Pulis now. It’s not difficult if you saw how he humiliated the captain of Turkey on Sunday. That’s just one of his little tricks. As one of your comics says… “There’s more. There’s more.”

    Ignore winger, (Mr Foster) he’s a rimmer now. Some of us are more experienced and are called PHW’s. The first two letters are ‘Pulis Hating’ but the last one is too Raffish to post on here. 😉

    Oh, by the way, (BTW) it’s perfectly feasible to love Stoke City and hate the manager. Many of us do. 🙂


  6. sean evans says:

    haha i know what PHW stands for from reading the book lol.and i seen him take off tuncay moments after bringing him on,strange.

    and he left kitson on who imo is absolutely much tall,strong strikers do u need?fuller,beattie and sidibe (or mama) would be enough for me.

    so i think ill become a PHW.btw, are u mentioned in the book because u seem to be related or friends with the man himself.

  7. sean evans says:

    oh sorry i just realised your old stokie,hence the bad.
    ive just told my dad that ive moved from chelsea and his reaction was priceless.then i told him im now supporting stoke and he nearly had a heart attack.

    im gonna count the days until i go to a stoke match and sing delilah amongst the fans.

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    Let us know when you can make it Sean & we’ll arrange for you to get looked after to & meet all the Legends like OS 🙂

  9. sean evans says:

    haha will do.

    are u writing another book about stoke,im just after finishing “she stood there laughing” and im dying to read another one lol.

  10. sean evans says:

    oh and i just joined the website “oatcake” under the name “theirishstokie”.whats your name on it stephen?

  11. Stephen Foster says:

    No further plans until we make it to Europe, Sean.

    In the meanwhile please tell all your mates what a great Christmas present ASLNM would make ;–)

  12. sean evans says:

    lol we posted at the EXACT same time.

    and lol,europe,a tad bit optimistic,just a tad bit lol,we wont be seeing another book for a while then!

    and ive already told all of them and they wont believe me,saying stoke are the most boring team in the prem,which i cant argue against with no other person i know able to back me up.

    so what do u think the score will be this saturday?id say 1 nil ireland,glenn whelan last minute volley lol.

  13. Stephen Foster says:


  14. Stephen Foster says:

    EXACT same posting times, what are the odds? You are meant to be a Stokie!

    Boring!? How can a team who are 9th be Boring!?

    2-1 on Saturday, Whelan & Lawrence :–)

  15. sean evans says:

    i am a stokie!
    look at all my posts on oatcake im going crazy on it!
    are u going to the match on saturday?

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