On Ocean Drive, Miami, I once met a guy called Chad from South Yorkshire. He was clutching a crushed Coke can, his ankle wrapped in cling film. I asked him if he was okay. “I had a tattoo,” he explained. “A bloody agony.” He took off the cellophane to show me a word in Russian: “Фрикли”. I asked him what that meant and he told me that was where he came from. I asked him where he was from. “Frickley,” he said. I asked why he wanted Frickley tattooed on his leg in Cyrillic. He had no answer for me.
Chad was a football fan, in Miami for England’s warm-up match ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Incredibly, four years later, I ran into him on Nikolskaya Street in Moscow during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. I told him that if England won, I would pay for him to get ‘ENGLAND’, or rather ‘Англия’, tattooed on a butt of his choice. Unfortunately, nothing happened.
Similarly, I have long said that if West Bromwich Albion won anything, I would get our club crest tattooed. That didn’t happen either. This week however in South Yorkshire I had to get a (temporary) West Brom tattoo for a role in the sitcom, Meet the Richardsons. I was very excited. Unfortunately, the makeup artist put it upside down. The poor woman was mortified, but I identified at least two positives: first, it made the words sound a bit Cyrillic, so remind me of my pal Chad from Frickley; second, in the mirror, it was damn wonderful. If and when West Brom wins something my real tattoo will continue upside down like this. That way I can stop and properly admire it in every mirror, glass case, or shiny pan I come across.