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Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1064551-Pigskin-Across-the-Pond
Rated: 18+ · Book · Music · #2231553
Fictitious and delicious!
#1064551 added February 20, 2024 at 9:27pm
Restrictions: None
Pigskin Across the Pond
Ah, good, I'm not the only one making that joke, Dana thought. I swear the English have their minds perpetually in the gutter.

It had been a rather long day for Dana, and the Tube ride back to her hotel drove that point home. She had just enough energy to shift the weight of the tripod bag in her free hand and huff out a chuckle at the various people making remarks about riding the Tube being a euphemism more than anything. At least by the time she was able to leave Tottenham Hotspur the public transit crowds had thinned out to a reasonable degree. That said, there was the tradeoff of being surrounded by more intoxicated fans. It was almost impressive how much no one seemed to care what kind of football was being played. They were going to drink after the game regardless.

Truth be told, photographing an NFL game in London was so far the most surreal moment in Dana's photography career. Hearing people in British accents have actual opinions about the Minnesota Vikings' defense prompted her to pinch herself a couple times to ensure she was awake. The second pinch left a red mark that still lingered a bit, making her realize that yes, this was actually happening. At least she'd had enough sense to put in ear plugs before taking to the field. The crowd's roar would have caught her off guard otherwise.

Adjusting her grip on the bar, Dana glanced around the train. She had been fortunate that the weather cooled off just enough that the default warmth of the Victoria line was tolerable. The last time she was on this line she'd shuffled on in squishy sneakers after getting caught in a surprising downpour. Gus had told her that the rain in London was frequent but not that heavy. Once she'd gotten back to her lodgings, she sent him a few messages and a picture of the hotel's hair dryer stuck in one of her shoes. Guess replied with some remarks about climate change changing the Great Britain he grew up knowing. Well, he wasn't wrong about that.

"Next stop: King's Cross Saint Pancras."

"They keep mispronouncing Saint Pancreas," she muttered, half registering a muffled giggle nearby.

After what felt like forever, the train arrived at the stop. Dana shuffled along with the swarm of people disembarking at King's Cross. It was a familiar pattern, although at least this time her shoes managed to stay dry. Once she'd gotten past the turnstiles, she scooted over to a patch of empty wall space and swiveled her camera backpack around her waist. She unzipped the main zipper in the rear of the back and fished out her phone. Unlocking it, she double checked her notifications. As she suspected, there was a new one on Signal.

Grabbed a bench near Gregg's. Let me know when you're in the station.

"Now to remember how to actually get into the station and not end up spilling on to Euston," Dana mumbled as she typed out a reply.

Dana found her way to the appropriate escalators and soon found herself in the King's Cross Station crowds. It was still busy even though it was pushing six in the evening on a Sunday. Still, she was thankful that she only needed to haul her backpack and tripod bag. If she'd had her full rolling suitcase, getting to and from the game would have been far more of a strain. The light load allowed Dana to weave through the station crowds and hike up the stairs to the mezzanine level. At least the crowd at Gregg's was light enough for her to spot a familiar face in the crowd. By face, she meant an olive green t-shirt.

"Matthew," she greeted him.

The man peered up and grinned. "Hey, there. How was the game?"

"Very loud and very busy."

"I imagine. I've thought about going to the NFL games, but aside from maybe two people with varying schedules and bank accounts I haven't found anyone to go with. And it feels strange to go to a game by myself."

"That's understandable. Have you ever been to an event at Tottenham Hotspur?"

"No, but it seems like it's a hell of a time."

"It is. I spent the first half on the field but moved into the stands for the second half. It's very stimulating no matter where you are."

"I can only imagine. So what do you want to do? Are you hungry?"

Dana nodded. "Do you mind if we stop by my hotel first? I'd like to at least put my gear back in my room."

"Sure. Where is your hotel?"

"Thankfully it's just across the street."

Soon, Dana was leading Matthew through the split pedestrian crossings on Euston Road. The number of dawdling pedestrians and narrow sidewalks made Dana appreciate her light load even more. Still, it took very little time for the two of them to reach the blue tile wheelchair ramp walls by the entrance of a semi-curved Brutalist tower.

"You're staying here?" Matthew asked. "Last I checked, The Standard isn't cheap."

"It isn't," Dana agreed. "On the other hand, it's quiet, and I know the area. Plus I haven't been staying super long, just a few nights."

With that, they stepped into the revolving door. Dana waited for Matthew to catch up before directing him to the elevators. She cast her eyes around the hallway as they waited, but only one other person joined them. While the older gentleman didn't say anything to them, Dana decided not to push her luck and stayed silent when the elevator arrived. Indeed, no one said a word during the ride to their respective floors. When the elevator stopped at the eighth floor, Dana waved for Matthew to join her as she exited the car.

"Now to navigate this byzantine maze," she whispered.

Matthew glanced around as the cut through short hallways. "You are not kidding."

"We'll get there eventually. I promise."

After a few more zig-zagging turns, they reached room 826. Dana unlocked the door and stepped inside. She heard Matthew's tentative footsteps behind her as she staggered over to the bench underneath the window.

"Damn, this place is amazing!" she heard Matthew exclaim.

"You can see why I decided to shell out a little extra for this place."

"Yep, I can indeed."

Dana set her gear bags on the bench before unzipping her backpack. She retrieved her phone, wallet, and Oyster card out of the various pockets. Opening her wallet, she removed a few cards and tucked them into the appropriate slots in her phone's case. The phone and Oyster card went into a compact blue dotted crossbody purse. Dana slung the purse over her shoulder and turned to face Matthew.

"Alright," she said. "Now that I'm carrying way less crap, we can actually go do something, like find some food."

Matthew laughed. "Well, that's one way to get to the point. I know Dishoom is nearby, and there's a lovely fountain outside of this location. Wanna go there?"

"Depends on how busy it is. I know the one in Edinburgh is always a madhouse."

"There's one in Edinburgh? I didn't know that."

"Oh yeah," Dana replied with a nod. "It's rather tiny."

"Well, given that the weather's decent, the patio might still be open, so there's more room for people. I'll check Google, though, just to be sure."

As Matthew checked his phone, Dana ducked into the bathroom. She grabbed her hairbrush off the sink and took a moment to brush out the tangles that managed to form over the course of the day. Part of her debated whether or not to put on a bit of make-up, but she decided against it.

"Looks like it's less busy than usual."

Dana poked her head out of the bathroom. "That's a shocker. I'll believe it when I see it."

"Well, we can at least head over. If it's too busy, there are plenty of other places to eat in that part of town."

"Fair enough. Once we wind our way back to the elevators, I'll let you lead the way."

Soon, Dana found herself back on the streets of London, the night sky creeping further into the city. A few stray strands of golden lit the way as she and Matthew headed for Granary Square. When they arrived, they spotted some teenagers running in between the clusters of fountains, the LEDs at the base spiking the jets with vibrant shades of yellow and purple. Patios were filled with diners and drinkers enjoying the early evening dry skies. The two of them walked to Dishoom, dodging a small cluster of people near the door. As they walked in, Dana cast her eyes around the place. There did appear to be more space, but she still noted how many of the tables were occupied.

Her suspicions were proven correct when the host indicated that they'd have to wait a half hour for a table or sit at the bar if they wanted to get a seat sooner. Dana said the bar was fine, and Matthew opted to go along with whatever she said. That's how they ended up parking at two barstools at the far end of the bar. At least there was a chair between them and the rest of the people at the bar.

"Honestly, given how tiny the tables are, I doubt there's much of a difference sitting here," she remarked as she adjusted her purse on her shoulder.

"That's fair," Matthew replied.

"And hopefully since we're tucked away we can just have a nice evening hanging out and not have to worry about other people."

"Let me guess. Some of the fans recognized you and asked for selfies."


"Yeah, I still sometimes get that, hence why I've started adding another color shirt to my wardrobe."

Dana snorted. "How's that been working out for you?"

"So far I've had decent results. I find I have better luck if I opt to wear my glasses, but even then some people still recognize me. They're more committed fans."

"I will not make the joke. I will not make the joke."

"Oh, go on. You know you want to."

To Dana's relief, the bartender took that moment to stop over and get their drink order.

As the evening went on, Dana told Matthew about her adventures at Tottenham Hotspur in between sips of an in house IPA and nibbles of vegetable samosas and okra fries. Aside from the selfies, she had spent her time photographing the refs and huddles since she hadn't brought her super long lenses. Her assignment for the game was more candid and less focused on the actual play action. She even described it as an audition for future play action documentation assignments.

"So what are you hoping will happen after this?" Matthew asked.

"Well, as much as I like to hate on the Vikings, being able to photograph their home games will be useful practice. Photographing football is a bit strange, as there is a lot of hurry up and wait action. There's very quick action, and you have to be alert to catch it. Unlike a lot of sports, though, there is no real set rhythm or cadence, so major stuff can happen at any time. It's actually kind of tiring trying to keep up."

"I can only imagine."

"Yeah, so I need to get used to being that alert for hours on end before I can photograph the playoff games or even the Superb Owl."

Matthew laughed at the nomenclature. "I almost want to go to the Superb Owl just to be there in the stands while wearing a shirt with an owl on it."

"Damn, that sounds tempting."

In the midst of their conversation, neither Dana nor Matthew noticed two men descending the stairs next to the bar, both with cameras in hand. Unfortunately for them one was ready for the shot when their mutual Superb Owl joking caused them to laugh so hard they almost leaned on each other as they worked to catch their breath.

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