Tom Fordyce

Lyon and the leggy lioness (26)

Lyon, Friday morning - “You know what?” said Ben this morning, as he stared forlornly out of Le Bloggernaut’s windows at the sleet whacking down outside. “We’re halfway through our trip. We’re officially on the back nine.”

I looked up anxiously. Since that desperate night spent parked on an industrial estate in St Etienne, Ben’s mood has been as up and down as a Frederic Michalak garryowen.

At some points – as when looking forward to this weekend’s series of massive crunch matches – he’s been as maniacally animated as a tipsy Sue Pollard.

At other times, reduced to munching morosely on sliced bread, prone to long periods standing silently outside the van with hood up, tugging glumly on another soggy cigarette, he has appeared to be auditioning for the Ian Curtis role in a biopic of Joy Division.


It didn’t help that, in a Lyonnais bar last night, we witnessed a smashed Australian fan pull off one of the most outrageous pieces of pulling either of us has ever seen.

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the lead singer of woeful post-Britpop group Toploader, the leering boozehound had been firing off slurred proposals in the direction of any woman that came into range, no matter whether she looked like Beyonce or Brian Moore.

It was the chat-up equivalent of firing a blunderbuss, with the unfussy Antipodean as happy to bag a bristling wart-hog on his silver-tongued safari as a graceful gazelle.

Ben and I were starting to guffaw openly in his face when suddenly, with the bar staff shouting last orders, his last tug on the trigger brought him spectacular rewards.

Open-mouthed, we watched as a leggy lioness wandered willingly into his crosshairs and threw herself into the spray of bullets.

At any other time, we might have been able to laugh the incident off.

But last night, as we trudged back to a frozen Bloggernaut through puddles the depth of rockpools, the mood was gloomy.

With less than 36 hours to go until the Scotland-Italy humdinger, we still don’t know whether we’ll be dancing merrily round the Stade Geoffroy Guichard with the invading Scottish army or standing despondently outside in the rain like the guests no-one wants to let into a party.

What is certain is that we’ll be watching the England match in a bar in which almost every other nationality – Scot, French, Australian, Irish – will be raucously rooting for a Tongan triumph.

For Dirsy, who this week has been told by various people that he looks exactly like exponentially-expanding Hollywood star Jon Favreau and the No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins, the burden is a particularly heavy one to bear.

So long have we now been living on the road so that we’ve started to refer to each other by CB radio call-signs.

At the last count, we’d completed 2,807 miles on the trip, of which only 960 were the cumulative result of frantic three-point turns after wrong turnings up residential cul-de-sacs.

Like a long-married couple, we’ve started to complete the other one’s sentences and subconsciously mimic each other’s body language.

When I came back from a trip to the toilet to find Ben chatting to a Scotland fan named George, it was all I could do to restrain myself from throwing a fit of jealousy and storming off in tears.

Give it another week and the cracks will inevitably have started to appear.

One of us will have developed a hobby that involves long periods alone in a shed-like construction at the rear of Le Bloggernaut.

The other will be letting himself go to seed, slouching round in unwashed tracksuit bottoms while making catty remarks about the other one’s driving and DIY skills.


Before you know it, one of us will come back from a night of mirthless solo drinking to find the other sobbing uncontrollably while clutching a photo of the two us larking around happily in the first week of the trip.

As always, all words of advice and consolation are hugely appreciated.

Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Ben Dirs. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:40 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Jake wrote:

Ah, chin up, chaps. Could be worse - you could be stuck in a dungeon in Shepherd's Bush doing the text commentary! At least this way you get a bit of daylight...

  • 2.
  • At 04:02 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • mm hmm wrote:

If you're wondering why there are no comments on here it's cos the page is broken!

  • 3.
  • At 04:08 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • steeve_ajg wrote:

hi enjoy the weekend and in between the drinks watch come rugby knock outs, also I would have liked the people who say mino teams should not play in the world cup to have been with me last sunday with the portugal supporters signing to me (I am scottish) we scored a try and you never... and then on Wednesday morning in toulouse (5:45am) on my way to the airport the portugal and romainan fans singing and asking where the stadium is..let them tell these fans that there teams are not good enough to participate...

  • 4.
  • At 04:09 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • norfolk ol wrote:

Not much consolation, but i reckon Dirsy looks a bit like Tommy from Snatch.

Don't worry mate, i look like David Moyes

  • 5.
  • At 04:14 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • tomthepom wrote:

where after st etienne - burn up to paris for ireland, or down to the med for montpellier game and quarters in marseille(s)? if south, you never know, you might rediscover the dying days of summer...

  • 6.
  • At 04:21 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

In that supposed Ian Curtis-style pic, Dirsy looks rather more like he would be playing Peter Hook...?

  • 7.
  • At 04:28 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Has anyone else noticed that Dirsy looks the spit of a 'young' Alan Sugar?

  • 8.
  • At 04:37 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

If this continue to take a turn for the worst and you come to blows, who is likely to prevail? I imagine tom would be dancing around stirking with lightening quick jabs where as Dirsy will be more of a stand and delivery slugger

  • 9.
  • At 04:38 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

In that supposed Ian Curtis-style pic, Dirsy looks rather more like he would be playing Peter Hook...?

  • 10.
  • At 04:47 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Jonty wrote:

If things do get so bad and it comes to blows, who is likely to prevail? I imagine Tom would be dancing round throwing in quick jabs where as Dirsy will be more of a stand and delivery slugger!

  • 11.
  • At 04:50 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Has anyone else noticed that Dirsy looks the spit of a 'young' Alan Sugar?

  • 12.
  • At 04:57 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

If this continue to take a turn for the worst and you come to blows, who is likely to prevail? I imagine tom would be dancing around stirking with lightening quick jabs where as Dirsy will be more of a stand and delivery slugger

  • 13.
  • At 05:04 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • david pepper wrote:

I think england will loos v tonga because they are a touth side tonga

  • 14.
  • At 05:40 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Dirs wrote:

Sam - Is that you Sam Lyon? You, sir, are a swine. I knew you'd stab me in the front one day.

Anonymous - If myself and Tommy ever come to blows, I can assure you that I will not be using the Queensbury method.

Alas, Tommy out of Snatch is not a new one on me. But Peter Hook? That stings. That old Blackadder line springs immediately to mind: "If you're the man of a thousand faces, how come you'd choose the ugly mug you've got now then?"

tomthepom - After this, it's down to Marseille again for the quarters. The place is going to get smashed up.

mm hmmm - Correct, this page isn't working. My superiors assure me they are working on it.

  • 15.
  • At 07:19 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • manirish wrote:

Shame you had such a crap time at st-etienne. Having liverd here for 13 years I can give you the scoop: its more of a football town than arugby one. Even the bar the Glasgow is named like that because of the European cup final lost there by st-etienne against Bayern.Apparently it was because of the squaere crossbar!! Having said that the town is well up for the match saturday, when the scots were here for the fitba in 98 they drank the place dry. a few good bars- Cafe de Jardins next to the big screen, otherwise go the pedestrianised streets Martyres des Vingre (Smoking Dog Thunderbird) otherwise on the way down to the ground stop off in my neighbourhood Carnot thers more bars than you can shake a stick at and its 10 minutes walk (stagger ) away from the ground. PS went to USA Samoa last night and froze me feet off.

  • 16.
  • At 07:22 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Nick H wrote:

Tom, you need to rekindle the exuberance of the first throws of the trip. Give the Dirsmeister a multi-wrapped present and watch his excited chubby face light up with glee as he unravels each layer to reveal the pack of Gitannes underneath. Or treat him to a visit to the local fromagerie and a free-for-all 5 minute shopping spree. Failing that you could simply drop him at a vineyard for a day and leave him to gulp his way to empty-vatted contentedness. If these don't work I fear that only the love of a good woman will do the trick - perhaps you could infringe upon the bonhomie of a local madame to lure Ben from his bi-polar stupor?

  • 17.
  • At 07:28 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Andy Plowright wrote:

According to leading psychologists down my local, at this point you should be moving into the 'father and son' stage of the relationship. This inevitably means that you'll turn into Steptoe and Son. I see Tom in the Harry H. Corbett role, forever wanting to better himself through ludicrous amounts of physical exertion whilst Dirs sits at home moaning about his false teeth and how there's never any lavatory paper left. Swap the bloggernaut for a horse and cart and you're there.

  • 18.
  • At 09:06 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Chris the drummer wrote:

If either of you would like some time away from the Bloggernaut I shall happily volunteer to take your place. Wouldn't mind watching a couple of quarter finals....!

  • 19.
  • At 10:09 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen Evans wrote:

Please tell me that BBC are not paying these people.

  • 20.
  • At 11:15 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Keo wrote:

Oh sweet mother of god...

Dirsy really does look like Jon Favreau!

How scary is that, maybe twins seperated at birth!?!?

  • 21.
  • At 12:05 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Tez wrote:

Lads - what about Copains commes cochons ??

Have you got a rugby ball in the Bloggernaut ?? Quois ... ? Non .. you're joking !!!

If not get down the nearest Hypermarche and get one - then find a field with some nice grass and chuck it about - have some fun together - roll around - you'll see what its all about ..

  • 22.
  • At 04:28 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Carole Maidenhead wrote:

Oh, boys, boys. I'm starting to feel very sorry for you now. Damn these mothering instincts. I feel I need to come over there and cook you a nice hot meal - but Dirsy, you will have to wash your hands before you eat.

  • 23.
  • At 04:35 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Josh wrote:

Cheer up guys. Just think, after you've gotten through these troubled times together you're bond will be even stronger and you're relationship more solid.

In the meantime, what are everyone's takes on the Wales v Fiji match? I'm watching it now and it's currently 25-3 to the Fijians half an hour in, and the poor old Welsh are making a mess of everything! Can't see them coming back from this one sadly.

Keep at it boys, and keep the blogs coming, you don't half make me chuckle.

  • 24.
  • At 12:13 PM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • Sam Lyon wrote:

Dirsy - alas I can take no credit for the Alan Sugar comparison. I'm firmly in the Jon Favreau camp myself, though there's definitely a bit of Steve McFadden thrown in there as well I'm sure...

  • 25.
  • At 08:56 PM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • Ann and Chris Goodwin wrote:

Read the blog with interest. We have been in France every weekend but work commitments have meant we have had to go home for the working week. Now about to fly to Marseille to pick up a motorhome. Where is the best place to park up for the games in Marseille? Are there many motor homes around for the World Cup? When we were on the Lions tour there were hundreds and it was a great atmosphere as they were allowed to park near the stadium.

  • 26.
  • At 11:05 PM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • Josh wrote:

With regards to Dirsy's lookalikes, I can't help but think that if Tom were to dye his hair black they could do a half decent impression of Max and Paddy.

And in this case even the motorhome gets a mention! Now that's what you call efficiency!

I can't help but be amused at the thought of an unsuspecting frenchman approaching the Bloggernaut with curiosity, only to be frightened away by Dirsy's voice bellowing "get back ya b*****d, I'll break yer legs", or maybe the French equivalent...

Anyone agree??

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