Sunday, 27 June 2010

It's Coming Home...

I admit it. I have jumped onto the World Cup bandwagon. Okay, so until we get to the semi finals I refuse to get excited about our prospects, but in the meantime I am taking an active interest in how we are doing. It is Sunday morning and I’ve strategically arranged my day around the 3pm kick-off.
I cannot claim to be a football expert. I’m afraid I’m still not 100% clear on the offside rule (something to do with there has to be a member of the opposite team between you and the goal when the ball is passed to you?) and can probably only name about half the English players on the pitch. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m English, and I like to see our country do well at something.
Let’s face it, we need a boost. What with the recession, cuts to public spending (and jobs) and a decidedly damaging oil spill, it’s about time we had something to smile about.
And it’s true, the World Cup has brought us together again as a nation. In London it’s decidedly noticeable. On Wednesday I had a meeting at 3pm then headed to Camden to meet Him Indoors. As I waited for the bus a young lad gleefully informed me that we had scored. When I got off the bus I walked passed a pub and squinted through the window at the giant TV screen. A couple of guys having a smoke outside told me it was still one - nil. I gave them the thumbs up.
Having finished a bit of shopping I had some time to kill before meeting the fella, so I found another bar that was showing the match. Along with a couple of other people I stood outside the crowded venue to watch the final minutes. The staff were too engrossed with the game to object. The lady next to me told me she’d had to leave the pub but was just catching the last few minutes before having to head off to a meeting. I asked her how we had been playing and she gave me a brief summary of the game.
When the final whistle was blown a cheer rose over the capital. I exchanged a smile and a nod with the woman and she headed off to the tube.
This might not sound extra-ordinary, but when else do people randomly talk to a complete stranger, let alone strike up conversation with them? Even during the terrorist attacks five years ago people continued to ignore each other, fearful of their neighbours rather than making a united front against those responsible. But a group of men kicking a football around for ninety minutes? Apparently it is the antidote we have been waiting for in these difficult times.
So, I will be watching the game this afternoon. And I really hope we win, not just because I want to see my country do well. I want my country to come together, talk to each other again, trust their neighbours, whoever they are, rather than blame them for everything that is wrong with the world. Idealistic? Probably. But even if it only lasts for the duration of the World Cup, it’s better than nothing.

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