Eventually, we left home after a massive search for the ever-elusive house key. We arrived in Cork Airport barely in time to check in, having run all the way from the carpark with our rucksacks bobbing on our backs. We got through passport control eventually. Dad had forgotten to put his shampoo in the luggage he checked in. I suspect some security officer’s family will have shiny hair for the next few days!! The pin in Dad’s hip set off the security alarm as soon as he passed through, he was swiftly moved aside and frisked (much to his embarrassment). Waiting to board, Dad noticed menacing-looking security guards approaching. As they came nearer, Dad began to perspire at an alarming rate. One of the security guards placed a shovel of a hand on Dad’s shoulder, from his pocket he whipped out a taser and handed it to the other security guard!! He again started to rummage in his pockets and pulled out the bottle of “Johnson’s Baby Shampoo” which Dad had bought in the duty-free and mistakenly left on the counter. Dad exhaled a huge sigh of relief and thanked the smiling security men. Arriving at Charles De Gaulle Airport at 09.30 French time, we got a Metro to within two hundred metres of our accommodation at “l’Hotel de Ville” on the Champs-Elysées. The following morning we awoke with the intention of seeing some of the main tourist sights of Paris. The “Arc de Triomphe” was a sight to behold, and the subway that leads to the centre of the roundabout was a fascination to both of us, to think of the hundreds of cars that passed over us while we were hidden underground. However, the Eternal Flame of the unknown soldier who made horrific sacrifices during the First World War poignantly reminded us of the millions of people killed and the futility of wars throughout the ages. After a leisurely lunch at Montmartre and enjoying the ambience of that creative quarter, we took a taxi to the “Stade de France” where rival Argentinian and Irish fans were enjoying the festive atmosphere and looking forward to an exciting and entertaining group match. The colourful scenes of bunting, flags and jerseys, the smell of cooking at street vendor stalls, the music, laughter and chatter all created a carnival atmosphere of another world. The hair on my neck began to bristle and my heart began to pound as we got seated in the packed stadium and enjoyed the rapturous cheers as the teams warmed up, but words cannot describe the pride I felt when the stadium erupted in the emotional singing of our country’s national anthem. Not to be outdone, the Argentinians rose the fervour to fever pitch with their voluminous rendition of their anthem. My heart was bursting out of my chest in anticipation of the enthralling match that was unfolding before our eyes. It is a memory that will live with me forever.
Your dear friend,