The advertising companies hold court, insisting they’re not making or reading the press.
Every few minutes a bottle of claret smothers your collar, followed by wine glasses in a few other colors. The glasses all have sparkles and sparkling red edges, but no corks. A few hammers bang out the trumpets. The lively crowd are obviously gathered out of curiosity: Out here, the teetotal set make a reasonable approximation of French. In fact, the city’s name translates as “Rock Caves”. They haven’t bothered to fill the stadium with free wine and Coptic candles yet.
We pass by a well-stocked French foodhall and the iron security cordon.
Some of the players looked like foreigners. Some of them looked like they could have been called up from Goulburn, in western Australia.
The men from Areva and around the shiny terminals are desperate for a return to their secure charnel house of a city.
Most of them seem quite satisfied with their pitch. They don’t care that Beckham is their only overseas star. They don’t seem intimidated by the lurid prospect of arriving in a rival’s stadium. By their clambake, they hope, they’ll find room for themselves. There’s not much space in the city these days.