Ficklish Blog

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cup of Life?

So, apparently there's a World Cup on. It seems large and rather important. It's only been going for a couple of days and already I've watched more football since, well, the last time the World Cup was on. This excellent post over at Grods by Billybob has the actual footbally bits covered - the prospects of the teams and what it all means for our Socceroos and so on - so I will concentrate on the cultural impact of this sacred event.

The first thing to note is that I'm referring to it as 'football', rather than soccer. I'm so assimilated....

The citizens of England, it would seem, are united behind their national team and giddily enthusiastic about their prospects. For a nation of people usually at each others' throats about the domestic competition of this crazy game, it's somewhat touching to see previously insurmountable footballing differences forgotten in the wake of World Cup fever.

The flag of St George covers the land, with flashes of red and white everywhere you look. Every third car has a pair of flags fluttering from each front window. There is deliciously tacky paraphernalia on sale in every store, from the local off-licence to the fancy boutiques. I've seen everything, from t-shirts to novelty oversized hats, fluffy dice, tattoos, and shoelaces (perfect for those bad-boy hooligan boots, you know, so when you're kicking someone's head in they know exactly from whence you came).

Speaking of hooligans, I met a young lad on the weekend who was sporting a fresh buzz cut and a bucketload of angry, psyching up to descend upon Germany this week to, and I quote, "bring the Cup home". Apparently in his vision this was to be achieved single-handedly, though I'm not sure how. He was actually more than a little amusing, not least when I told him I was looking forward to seeing him on the front page of The Sun and he responded by getting up and showing me his already-practiced publicity pose: head tucked under arm, jacket pulled across face - all ready for the inevitable encounters with the gendarmes and paparazzi.

I've learned more than I ever needed to know about a player named Wayne Rooney, who is apparently so critical to England's success that any day he manages to train with the team or has some sort of medical assessment of his fitness levels is a day where news bulletins cover nothing else. I'm serious. I've heard entire radio news bulletins that discuss nothing except the prospect of Mr Rooney's metatarsal (which, it seems, is a fancy way of saying ‘broken toe’) healing in time for the playoffs. He's the Jana Pittman of the English football team.

(And I'm quite sure that is possibly the most insulting comparison I could have made. I should apologise to Mr Rooney. But he'll probably get over it).

My favourite thing about the last football tournament I experienced in England (Euro2000) was the songs. Fabulously catchy, irresistibly rousing, English football songs are great fun. I was looking forward to reprising some of my favourites at the pub on Saturday afternoon - only in the interests of my 'when in Rome' approach to travel, you understand - I'm not actually supporting England, I just really wanted to sing that 'three lions on a shirt' song again.

And so, I must confess, I was a little disappointed at the display on the weekend. After such a long build-up and such overt displays of nationalistic fervour, I was expecting dancing in the streets once England had posted its first victory. However, the mood in London seemed quite subdued that afternoon. The pubs cleared and there was a marked absence of singing and shouting (at least in the area I was in). Perhaps folks are pacing themselves, perhaps they were exulting on the inside. Perhaps they were quietly worried because in fact England played like shit.

(Or so I am given to understand).

Anyway, I'm as World Cup ready as I can possibly be. Everyone within hearing distance has been repeatedly informed of Australia's soccer history and how exciting it is that we are participating at all. I don't have much in the way of Australian paraphernalia to display, save for the excellent flag socks which were part of my farewell gift, so I have pinned them proudly to the wall behind my desk (much to the amusement of my colleagues). I have Australia to barrack for, and scored South Korea in the work sweep, so I'm set.

(The sweep draw, incidentally, was hilarious: I was very amused to watch fully grown, normally sedate lawyer types squeal with glee and race around the office shouting such things as: “I got Germany, you’re all FUCKED! Victory to the Fatherland!’).

The first Socceroo game kicks off in less than an hour. Sadly, I'm not at the pub with my countrymen this afternoon, given that there are very important letters for me to type here at work, but I'm quite sure that I'll have frequent and very urgent tasks to attend to in the conference room downstairs, where a flatscreen TV has been installed for what I assume is my football-watching convenience.

Bring it on!

Updated to Add:

Well, that was fun, wasn't it? Hooray! Of course, I was cruelly kept far too busy to be able to pop downstairs to watch it as planned - how dare they give me work to do at work? Thankfully, salvation arrived in the shape of a portable TV loaned to me by one of the kindly lawyer-types I work for. I propped the little screen by my computer, and typed away merrily with one eye on the (miniature) action. As luck would have it, the batteries ran out twenty minutes before the game ended, so I missed all the goals, but still. It seemed very exciting, and I've now seen them all on replay so I feel complete. I can't wait until Sunday afternoon when I can watch the next one at a pub like a normal person, with beer and shouting and suchlike.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

JLo, there seems to be an ever increasing number of references to cups, life, etc, etc in your delightful blog (I would go back and reference them however couldn’t really be bothered). Which has lead me to ask, Has your escape to mother England turned into a Grail Quest?

I mean we all enjoyed the Da Vinci Code novel, and I have to admit going to the Opus Dei headquarters whilst in New York but travelling to the other side of the world on a subconscious quest for the cup of Christ is a little over the top, don’t you think?

Miss you heaps babe, talk soon.

11:39 PM  
Blogger jLo said...

Dude, I already TOLD you, they have the Holy Grail nice and safe in Valencia. They may have chosen poorly, but the search, she is DONE.

Although, on reflection, I guess I take your point. It almost seems like I'm searching for something.... :)

Did you lot all sit up and watch the game?

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a lonely but thrilling session at GrodsHQ with Bec in BrisVegas and nobody willing to join me through until 1am on a school night. But I shouted enough to make up for the lack of friends and was so excited I couldn't go to bed for ages. Thank The Flying Spaghetti Monster that uni assessment is over in a couple of days and I can reverse my sleeping pattern for the rest of the world cup.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

australia is not being so reserved in its rejoicing. we're making the most of THE win. best commentary has included "tim cahill is now one of the leading goal scorers in the competition" and (from a fan) "it was great i loved it, especialy that last bit". we're real students of the game over here.... SOCCER that is.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another noteworthy comment was that made by a random youth who had obviously temporarily lost his capacity think clearly who said to a television camera "We're going win it. We're going to win the world cup man. It's in our blood!" ... yep. I hope he's right. (Thanks for the email JLo. Am going to send you something to pin up next to those socks. methinks they might be a tad lonely on their own). AZ.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here at DCITA (remember when you were here too, Miss Jlo, just a humble Servant of the Public?), World Cup fever means that I can watch fellow servants drop like flies as the afternoon winds on. I would have gotten up for the game too, but with a minus 3 degree minimum, my body refused to get out of bed. Clearly I need to work on my patriotism (or perhaps I need to work on the central heating...). S xo.

7:23 AM  

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