In fact is was way beyond cool…
It was just an ordinary weekday. I was reading, online, a preview of a forthcoming football match in London – my beloved Arsenal playing at home to huge rivals Spurs.
It was 2011, and my team had been playing at their “new” stadium, the Emirates, for over five years, although I had never been there. Living on a small island some 100km from England, it was an expensive business to go and watch your team play on the mainland. A return airfare of some £150.00, often an overnight stay in an hotel, before you even consider the expense of purchasing a ticket for the game. (And a game against your top rivals, a “London Derby”, getting a ticket is simply not possible. The match would have long since been sold out.)
So, it was beyond cool that an acquaintance, whom I had only met briefly while working the previous year in Africa, rang me to offer me a free ticket to see the match. Her daughter was going Christmas shopping in London, so would not be going to the match. Would I like to join her instead?
I naturally bit her arm off, subject to me being able to arrange a flight.
It was beyond cool that a flight was available, and we agreed to meet outside the stadium the following Saturday. It was also really cool that it was an early kick-off, just after midday, which meant I could fly back the same day and avoid the expense of a hotel.
We met up, I bought us a glass of wine at the bar, (maybe it was two..) and then, using my gift of a ticket for the match, entered the Emirates Stadium for the first time ever. A huge and unforgettable moment for me.
What was even cooler, was that, after a tentative start to the match, my beloved Arsenal scored two goals in a minute just before half time, and added a third in the second period to seal the match 3-0. Wow! This day just could not get better.
So back to Gatwick Airport I went, in a superb mood, having not only watched my first match at the Emirates, but had seen my team thrash their biggest rivals. How could the day get any cooler than that?
It did. No sooner had I got to the departure lounge at the airport, another friend approached me to say hello. She was on her own, and had a spare pass to the British Airways lounge that belonged to her husband, who was not on the trip.
So I spent the hour before my flight in the comfort of an executive lounge, only to discover that one of the white wines on offer (for free of course) was my favourite – a rare (at that time) Spanish Alberino from the North West of that country.
A superb way to finish one of the coolest days possible…
That was such a cool time
My coolest time so far wasn’t just one single one-of-a-kind event, but the whole year of 2011.
It was full of one-of-a-kind events, so powerful, dramatic and bright to remember still to this day.
Finished my previous 11-year long relationship. It was painful to do it as I was feeling guilty all the way in the process (in February).
Married my wife then and went for our honeymoon in Sri Lanka (October).
Before those two above-mentioned events:
Implemented the ‘Russian World Without Borders’ documentary series dedicated to the Russian historical and cultural heritage overseas. Went to shoot it to France, Nepal and, of course, Alaska as an executive producer and journalist. Successfully finished it making that 3-disc DVD set the most successful video production commercially for Reader’s Digest Russia. The company then sold around 30,000 copies of it all over the country.
Went to Alaska (as a single event to highlight) and spent there ten truly unforgettable days discovering the world I’ve dreamt to see for years, meeting some people with whom I still keep in touch today.
That was the coolest time of my life, full of emotions, and I could write books about it and probably should. But for now I will stop here.
It’s enough to make your Aunt a gear-head.
Years ago, in the US, Ford introduced a car named the Merkur XR4Ti. Merkur is German for Mercury. A bit bigger than a rice rocket, this was Ford’s mini muscle car. It was quick, agile and I loved to drive it.
One day we received an invitation from Merkur in the mail to come to Atlanta and watch the XR4Ti in a race. The hamburgers were on Ford. Hey, free food, I’m in!
We arrived at Road Atlanta and discovered more than a few burgers: Ford had flown in the engineers who designed the car. There was a tent on a hill overlooking the track. Impossibly bright green grass and a light drizzle carpeted the proceedings.
While we feasted on junk food of every description, the engineers took questions and talked about their car. Maybe you’re not a car guy, but I bet you have a car. It changes your relationship with your car when you talk to someone who talks about that switch in the first person. That crazy dome light that you can’t use starts to make sense. “Yeah, I thought about that all night, laying in bed; here’s why I did it that way…”
Below us, across that green grass our car thundered, throwing up a rooster tail of fine mist off the track, Porsche in hot pursuit. This is a real war and I get to sit in the generals tent above the field.
The afternoon wore-on and the enemy couldn’t catch up. ESPN cameras swivel on top of towers in the mist. We won! Not only did Merkur win the race, that gave these guys enough points to win the entire season — champions.
Now we are invited to come down to the pit and meet the driver & crew. Very cool… my only professional race and damn, I started at the top. After a bit of conversation “we” decided that it was a long drive home (120 miles) and we would become seriously wet after a bit in the light rain. Of course, I did get to see the crew in the pit.. on TV the following Thursday.
I never looked at that car the same way again. I hope you get to meet the guys who designed your car someday. And if your’e truly lucky, you’ll do it on the day they thump Porsche to take the championship. Yeah, it’s enough to make your Aunt a hard core gear-head.