On the boat back back from France I was standing on the rear deck smoking and staring at the expanding white V the boat was leaving in the grey water when a man asked me for a light. I found my lighter in the third pocket I tried and then held up the lighter to his face and flicked it. It was too windy and he tried to cup my hand without touching it and it was weird and awkward but I was committed to trying to light his cigarette this way. Why hadn’t I just handed him the lighter? Fuck knows. He had to touch my hand in the end but he eventually got his cigarette lit and then stood next to me. He too stared at the wake.
“Been to France?” The man asked me.
“Yeah,” I replied. We were on the boat back from France. Of course I’d been to fucking France.
“Me too,” he said and took another drag. I nodded. “With the football team. Tournament in Rennes.”
“Oh yeah? How did you get on.”
“Lost them all.”
“Bummer, well, you can’t win them all.” I’m full of sage shit like that.
“No, we lost the football team.”
“Yup, Jersey’s National Football team, gone.” We both had a drag on our cigarettes at the same time.
“They’ll turn up.”
The man laughed and ruefully shook his head. “Qualifier the day after tomorrow. Against Fiji. You don’t play football, do you?”
“No, sorry, Buddy. Running’s my thing.”
“Well, running is pretty much football,” said the man. He’d turned to me.
“Nah, really, I’m shit. Fucking kid beats me and he’s in an Iron Lung. Blocks the goal.”
“Well look,” said the man handing me a card he’d produced from an inside pocket of his padded coat. “Give me a call if you change your mind, it’s going to be on telly.”
“Telly?” I flicked my cigarette into the sea and it went for miles because of the wind.
“Yeah, it’s a qualifier. Island games.”
“I’ll think,” I said, looking at the card.
Ramone McTavish, Jersey National Football Coach, it said.
Ramone slapped me on the shoulder as I looked at the card. I nodded. When I looked up he’d gone. I looked out at the sea. Be fucking cool if I scored a cracking goal and it was on TV, I thought to myself. Everybody would forget about the France shit. I looked around again but Ramone must’ve gone inside. I put his card in my pocket and lit another cigarette.