On January 21, I announced what I thought would be Everton’s historic but short-lived arrival in fourth place of the Premiership. “Historic” and "short-lived" because no-one gets into the Big Four unless they’re dripping in money or foreign-owned or both. Sure enough, the People’s Club, owned and run by mere Brits, went down to fifth. But what’s incredible is that they stayed there, and yesterday the season finished - with the Blues STILL fifth.
They did a fantastic job, but special congratulations go to their Scottish (well, nobody’s perfect) manager, David Moyes, who won the prestigious Fink Tank Best Manager Award, for gaining the most points per pound spent.
I've nothing against the Big Four – in fact I love them all, except Man. U. – but in that sort of company, Best of the Rest is pretty good.
We’re off to Milan. No, we’re not really realtor-dodging – we always go away Pentecost weekend because we have some neighbours who always come Pentecost weekend. We board the train at our local Villefranche Dinky Toy station; but the train stops at Menton on this French side of the border and everyone has to get off. An anouncement says it can’t go any further because Italian Railways are on strike. With a couple of kilometres to go to the border and most people going only to the market in Ventimiglia – a further eight km. on the other side of it, about half waited for a promised bus, and the other half – which included us – headed for the Menton bus station.
The best we could do there was get a very crowded bus to Garavan, about 200m. from the border. Across the border there’s another split. About half decide to wait for the local bus to Ventimiglia, the rest – including us - decide to walk there. We didn’t know at the time that the Italian buses were also on strike, but with train tickets to Milan and hotel paid for, we were too mean to take a chance, so off we set with the rest in a remake of Exodus. Differences: while Charlton Heston may have had the Red Sea, he didn’t have a suitcase with dodgy wheels and it wasn’t uphill all the way.
We had planned to call a cab from Latte, 5k along the way, but with 200 metres to go, along came a mirage with a Mercedes emblem on the front and the word TAXI on the roof and in ten minutes we were in XXmiglia. But it was market day: the traffic was at a standstill, so we had to walk the last 500 metres!
At the station we find the strike will end at 1 o’clock and there's a train to Milan at three. It was quite a lunch.
And what about Milan? That will have to be the next post – I’m on sympathy strike just now.