Sometimes you buy someone a present that you think will be fun, but nothing special.  So you are then very surprised when they react in a way that appears to go way beyond what you thought might be the response.  That the present then has a totally unexpected positive consequence is an even bigger bonus.
 
One of my best mates is an ice hockey nut.  In his own world, and he does have his own world, he lives a stateside existence - that would naturally include attending all home and away games of New York Rangers.  I didn't follow the timetable of American Ice Hockey (I now know it's the NHL - National Hockey League) but I knew whenever the Rangers played as his Twitter account would be screaming #LETSGORANGERS
 
Now I wanted to have a nice day out and with him, something that was special, but within our limited budgets - it had been a tough few weeks and so I suggested that we take a trip down to see Streatham Ice Hockey team - the Streatham Redskins play.  Neither of us had ever been before.
 
Now let me get a few things on the record - I had no real expectations, I was taking my mate as a cheery attempt to give him some positives as he pined being in the US to absorb the NHL in full. I can't skate - my cat died the morning I first went to an ice rink with Primary School and so I was miserable that day and avoided it afterwards.  As a gay ma I struggled with sport at school, and I am no natural sportsman at all - I found school football tribal and rugby was ruined by a teacher who encouraged tactics that I realise now were homophobic, I wasn't good at cricket, but enjoyed the stats, and I found I was quite useful at field hockey.  
 
So for me, going to an ice hockey match was all about taking my friend, making sure he had a good time and that we indulged his interest and passion.
 
But that day has triggered a social transformation for me.  I totally loved what I saw, experienced and felt.  It was fast,mediate, powerful and totally engaging.  So now, months on from that first day, mI regularly get the train from West Hampstead to Streatham to see "my team"; I have the scarf, key ring, tweet them endlessly (some would say tediously) and find myself standing on the sidelines of a sports pitch screaming the first names of players I have never met.
 
I am now encouraging other friends of mine to attend Streatham Ice Hockey and come along and they too are loving it as well.  I realise that I have long craved for a sport to follow but the stereotype of rugby and football didn't work for me (and certainly not as it was shoved at my by school).  So yesterday I went to Streatham with my bestie, it was an important game and the crowds poured in to give us a full house and the game was electrifying for me - louder, faster, harder, rougher, more skilled.
 
Sadly Streatham Redskins went down to a 7-2 defeat to Chelmsford Chieftains (there is a second playoff going on now as I type this).  But as I left Streatham Ice Rink p last night I was bubbling with pride at MY team, at MY team captain JOE JOHNSTONE, about how persistent and impressive NICKY CHINN had been all night, about how hard DAWN and others work, and about the humour AARON tries to inject with the music.  And I have bubbled and enthused all day today about it.  I realise I have become a slow burning ice hockey sports fan - and frankly I'm loving it.
 
No-one who knows me would have guessed, indeed most, including me, my husband and my parent are puzzled but pleased.  So yes, I'm a Streatham Ice Hockey fan, the season has ended and I'm going to be gently sulking until the new season starts in October.  But I guess the summer months gives me some time to do some reading and maybe even learn the rules of the sport rather than just cheer and scream at the excitement and the pace and drama.
 
So yeah, I know October is a fair way off, but have a think about it - why don't you come with me down to Streatham on a Saturday and Sunday evening (I'll advise the fixtures as soon as known) and see it for yourself?  I will try and talk you through it as I understand the game, but may get distracted as I will be screaming and cheering for MY team.  STREATHAM!