The first rule when organising any kind of big day out must surely be to avoid getting tonsilitis three days before, as this will inevitably curtail your fun to a certain degree. This sadly was my fate, but regular readers will know of my pluck and steely determination in the face of adversity (well, certainly if I'm at risk of missing out on something that might be fun) and thus I soldiered on, despite being quite wobbly and having had my voice seemingly replaced by a comedy croak/whisper (progress on the day before, when I taught a day of lessons entirely through the medium of mime).
The reason for all this pluck, steely determination, etc etc was - quite unbelievably - a day at Old Trafford football ground. Yesterday afternoon saw the arrival of various "celebrities" and United greats of yesteryear at OT, to take part in a football match in aid of Sport Relief, and my United-supporting husband was positively slavering at the prospect of seeing Jaap Stam (who does actually appear to be about seven feet tall) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back in action.
He had to wait though, for first up was a mini pop concert with the kind of line-up that only this type of event can throw up - Tinchy Stryder, The Hoosiers, The Saturdays and Tony Christie. Each act had three songs, all except for Tony Christie who had one; no prizes for guessing what he went for. Highlight of this part of the day was seeing the grim realisation on the faces of The Saturdays that their five-inch stiletto heels were a poor choice of footwear considering they had to actually walk across the pitch to get to the stage; I too have performed "The Saturday Tiptoe" move in order to avoid inflicting damage on my wooden floorboards when sporting similar shoe products.
Anyway, silly concert bit over, and the real stuff was on. My husband seemed determined to treat it as a real, competitive match, oohing and aahing as X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs proved himself to be comfortably the worst striker in the history of football (I think The Saturdays would have had a better chance of scoring), and The Rivals went ahead through a goal from the scarily competent Ralf Little. But of course, United fans had no need to worry - 2-0 with just a few minutes left, Fergie-time was applied and the game basically went on until it was 2-2.
This meant penalties, easily the best bit of the whole day, as it had clearly been decided before-hand that only the celebs and not the pros would take the spot kicks. There is surely no better sight than Justin Moorhouse, as wide as he is tall and a good ten yards off the pace throughout the game, slotting one past a bemused Dave Beasant. In the end, The Rivals prevailed, although it barely seemed to matter by then (except to my husband, obviously).
The day was ridiculously good value at £15 per adult ticket - I haven't even mentioned the splendidly bizarre half-time fare of a kitted-up Bobby Charlton taking penalties - and was very well supported by the good folk of Manchester; I reckon there were at least 40,000 and maybe 50,000 in attendance. Hopefully it will prove to be a regular event - I can't wait to see who they get next year. Human League? Neil Diamond? Based on today's offering, I don't think anything's impossible...