Friday, 18 June 2010
Flying the Flag
England really isn't a bad place to live, most of the time. It's generally safe, and the locals are reasonably friendly. However, every four years the locals get very excited about something called The World Cup. Britain is probably the only country in the world without a national football team. Instead most parts of Britain have their own international teams. The largest of these is of course England. At World Cup time English flags appear everywhere. Every other car is emblazoned with them, people have their hair dyed with flags on them.
I'm almost tempted to scrap my old TV and buy an HD flat screen, because they're being sold at reduced prices almost everywhere, so that England fans can watch their team lose in high resolution. The local pub drastically reduces prices of their pints during England games, which isn't ideal. You have to drink your cheap pint surrounded by normally rational people who have somehow turned into rabid animals. Who shout and scream when their team gets within 10 feet of the ball, and who look like they're ready to commit murder when the other lot score.
I'm not sure why the English are always so hopeful. They keep banging on about how they won the cup in 1966. If I was an England fan, I wouldn't want to draw attention to the fact that my team hasn't won bugger all for 44 years. A few weeks ago they were even beaten by Woody Harrelson. Not the best of omens.
I'm thinking of suggesting to the landlord that he reduces the pints during the games that no-one wants to watch - after all, that's when he needs the business.
There was such a game yesterday afternoon. It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I was sitting outside having a leisurely lunch and a few pints, and reading a Simenon novel. There were only a few of the die-hard locals inside, half-watching the match. It was Greece v. Nigeria.
Now, I'm not a football fan. Nevertheless, I did watch the start, with the national anthems, and I might have wandered inside every so often, usually when there was a lot of cheering on the TV. And I caught the last 5 minutes. I didn't cheer, but I was happy to see that a country with 150 million people to choose 11 players from was beaten 2-1 by the Greeks, who are only 6% of the size. The Greeks who are currently suffering all manner of crap due to economic woes, who now have something to cheer them up.
Which is great. And now, since I've had enough exposure to football to last me the next four years, and I'm also a little sunburnt, I think I'll cut down on my visits to the pub for the next month or so, and keep my head down until it's all over.