August 2, 2012
LONDON CALLING (DAY 9)
Is Manchester my Olympic version of Marseille?
By Michael Lewis
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MANCHESTER AND NEWCASTLE -- At every major soccer tournament I have covered, there seems to be always a Marseille, a city where something is out of kilter.
In this instance, the No. 1 candidate at the Summer Olympics happens to be Manchester.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the city, just some unusual things have happened to me on the internet.
I am getting it at both ends.
At Old Trafford, I cannot send email using my AOL account. I can receive emails, though. Go figure that one out.
Fortunately, I have a non-AOL account, so that saved my skin, especially when I had to communicate with Newsday editors and send my stories to the newspaper.
Back at my hotel, the Jurys Inn, the email is quite efficient, but when I have used twitter -- I keep receiving messages that there are there is script on the page that shouldn't be there and that I have the option of removing it. I have kept clicking yes to remove, but I need to click it as many as eight times before the message disappears.
If the U.S. women defeat New Zealand on Friday, I will be back in Manchester for Monday's semifinal against the winner of the Canada-Great Britain match. If not (and that would be a significant upset, considering the U.S. has always reached the gold-medal match), I will go straight to London.
And about Marseille.
I traveled to the southern French city three times during the 1998 World Cup and three times I commuted back to my headquarters in Paris because there were no hotel rooms.
Well, there was supposed to be one reserved for me for a later first-round match between Brazil and Norway, but the hotel claimed it did not have a reservation, even though I had a voucher that stated I did have one. Needless to say, I lost the argument. After the game, I returned to the hotel and managed to convince officials to allow me to catch 20 winks (it was a short sleep) on a couch back in the lobby before catching my train to Paris( before transferring another to Nantes for the U.S.'s final game against Yugoslavia). I slept with my computer bag strap wrapped around arms and legs, just in case someone wanted to run off with it.
It was hot and humid that night and the temperatures were in the 80s at the stadium. I needed a shower badly. Heaven knows how I smelled. Even though I had a reservation on the Paris train, I wound up standing for most of the three-hour journey home because I think half of Marseille got on the train and I would have had to negotiate a ridiculous gauntlet of people. I made friends with an Agence-France Presse writer while standing on the outskirts of the car.
I had to switch trains in Paris -- to another station in another part of the city -- and I had about a 2 1/2 -hour break. I decided to try an audacious maneuver by bolting to the apartment, taking a shower, packing new clothes and get to the other station on time.
It worked to perfection, so well that I was able to buy a baguette before boarding my train. My roommates, New York Daily News sports columnist Filip Bondy and Newsweek sports editor Mark Starr, were out eating lunch at the time. They were astonished to discover how quickly I moved (my dirty clothes on my bed were evidence that I had been there). They nicknamed me "The Wind."
As you can tell, the diary is a bit late today. Too much work on Wednesday (very, very heavy day). So I wound up writing it on the train from Manchester to Newcastle. I don't know where I am as I type this, but the countryside sure is beautiful.