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Get out of the house before it kicks off.

Byline: Richard Irvine

OUR eyes met over my handlebars, as the South American gentleman asked: "Would you like spanner?" "No, I''m fine, thank you", I said very politely.

In fact, a spanner would be less use than a nice ham sandwich right now as my chain had snapped.

But that's not the point, the point was another man from a different country had reached out and touched me (not in an inappropriate manner).

Although we already kind of knew a little about each other (again, not in an inappropriate manner).

We both knew we weren't watching football.

You see, I'd decided to forgo the pleasure of watching England scrape into the quarter-finals to go for a bike ride on the deserted roads of south Liverpool.

Ever since an incident involving two young men and an insulting comment directed at me, I'd been wary of going out in my cycling shorts.

This was a golden opportunity to find my confidence, wear Lycra and meet men of other nationalities.

Three men, to be exact: two Italians and the man whom I'd labelled as South American because he had black hair.

Unfortunately, the plan nearly didn''t work out in my favour.

My first mistake was leaving the house at exactly 3.00pm, assuming everyone would be settled in front of the television.

Wrong, I hadn''t bargained for the risktakers who''d left everything till the last minute and were now in a death-defying race to make it home.

Luckily, I managed to avoid being run over by a variety of middle-aged men driving at excessive speed before it all went eerily quiet.

The streets were empty, dogs could be heard barking, and I could swerve between the white lines on the road.

It was like being trapped in a surreal limbo populated only by the occasional woman and foreign student.

In fact, the only English person I did see was an elderly gentleman having quite a ferocious argument with himself.

Sadly, this sense of freedom didn''t last long because my chain snapped and I was forced to fix it by the side of Sefton Park Lake.

What was even more disappointing was the mosquitoes hadn't decided to stay home and watch the football.

Since there were so few bodies on offer, I was to be their main evening meal.

Amusingly, to practically everyone apart from me, I was bitten on my ear.

My ear then swelled to twice its size and turned bright red, but luckily Victoria was there to ease my self-consciousness by pointing out "it''s amazing what a difference it makes to your face when you''ve got a massive ear".

Chain fixed, it now occurred to me I should really get the weekly shop in while the going was good.

Again, I was greeted by a strange mystical world; aisles were empty and I could hear the hum of the chiller cabinets.

For the first time in a few months, the queue for the manned check-out was moderate and I decided to let someone else scan my shopping for a change.

Even better, I'd parked right outside the front door.

The evening had been a success and I made it back home to find out the score without having to go through any tension.

So you know what to do next Sunday night; stay home and let me go for a bike ride in peace before I get the big shop in.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2010
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