So it’s that time in the four-year cycle of four yearness where my newsfeeds and social life are suddenly dominated by one thing and one thing only – the tiresome, repetitive, inescapable, all-encompassing deluge of people going on and on and on about how uninterested they are in the football, specifically, the World Cup.
Now we’re an inclusive, tolerant sort of corner of the internet. We welcome all-comers, and hold a deep and abiding respect for each and every one of your rights to hold and express whatever opinions you like. However, there are some occasions on which those opinions are simply wrong. I’m aware, for example, that there are some of you out there who don’t like marmitey toast, or who think that Nigel Farage seems like a damn good bloke. Now I wouldn’t be expected to smile benignly while those travesties of opinions were expressed, and this is no different. I understand that some of you don’t like football, but you are, I’m afraid, based on the available evidence, simply and categorically wrong. And by ‘based on the available evidence, simply and categorically wrong,’ I mean that I reckon something different.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing wrong with the state of world football and there isn’t lots that will irritate me over the next few weeks of World Cup jollity. In fact there’s lots of bad in amongst the good. I shall innumerate some of that bad forthwith…
Corrupt, out of touch, apparently incapable of dealing with racism in a way related even slightly to the 21st Century. Pah.
2. The advertising industry’s World Cup obsession with all things football
Yep – every advert on TV for the next month will feature the beautiful game in some way or another. Some of these adverts will be for sportswear companies – that’s just about ok. Most of them, however, won’t. They’ll be for cars, or supermarkets, or shampoo, or any one of the hundreds of other businesses that have sod all to do with football, and they will be tiresome in the extreme, and they will never convince me that a flake free scalp has significant impact on goalkeeping performance. Ugh.
3. Yes – I’m a girl. Yes – I’m a girl who writes romantic comedies for a living. Yes – I understand the off side rule.
It’s 2014. This really really isn’t news, but at some point over the next month I’m pretty damn sure it will be commented on. Likewise, there are plenty of blokes who couldn’t give a stuff about the World Cup. They’re misguided (as previously explained) but also not noteworthy. Interest in football is not governed by one’s possession of a y-chromosome. That clear? Good.
It’s also not mutually exclusive with having other interests, even interests that some people might (wrongly) describe as a ‘tad girly’. In addition to football, I also quite like books and theatre and cooking programmes and spending too much money on ebay and drinking wine in the garden, and I imagine I’ll manage to squeeze most of those activities into my summer as well. Which brings me onto…
4. The pressure to be a ‘proper’ fan
I’ll be honest- I’m not sure I have the ‘proper’ fandom gene. I’m a casual football fan. I’ll watch the World Cup. Outside of that I probably watch most England matches, a smattering of Champions League and a random sample of Match of the Day. I don’t go and stand on the terraces every weekend. Some ‘proper’ fans will be irrationally offended by that, in the same way that I have friends who will be upset by the fact that I ‘quite like’ Buffy, or generally only own those CDs that everybody owns – the ones put out after bands were famous. It’s good to be a casual fan. It frees up brain-space for more activities, and saves you from ever having to convert your loft into bespoke storage for your Doctor Who figures.
So there are just some of the things that will aggravate me during the World Cup, but actually none of them are anything to do with football. They’re all just part of the kerfuffle surrounding the football.
Football is sometimes referred to as the beautiful game, and it is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Football is the game that groups of eleven year olds would invent, given a patch of ground and a round thing. It can be played badly by pretty much anyone, and played brilliantly it can be exhilarating to watch. It can be nail-biting, infuriating, gut-clenching, ecstasy-inducing and pretty much all emotions in between. Football is brilliant. It’s made me hide my face behind a cushion while watching TV more effectively than any dalek. It’s made me yelp for joy in the street when being forced to listen to an England match on the radio on account of ‘having to go to work.’ It’s made me cry in public (Euro ’96 – Gareth Southgate, oh Gareth Southgate).
So, football, yeah. I quite like it.
I do also, however, like other things, and with that in mind, please allow me one brief moment of shameless promotion. Next week, on Saturday 21st June I’m hosting a rather lovely literary event as part of the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. I’m going to be hosting an afternoon with top writers Christina Courtenay, Sue Moorcroft and Liz Harris who will be talking about books and writing and anything else I, or the audience, choose to ask them about. This may or may not include the World Cup. So anybody who loves books and is around in Worcester on 21st June, please come along. It should be lots of fun, and there will definitely be cake. You can download the full LitFest programme (which also includes 3 novel-writing workshops with yours truly) and book tickets here.