Walking through the appropriately named Gunnerside,
Listening to an Easter tide Arsenal victory on the radio.
Watching the desultory interest in the Queen Mother’s death
As the football results came in on the telly at the pub,
Then shopping for shoes at an open air market in Wenseleydale,
Where we could only find a right foot boot but not the left,
‘The bane of the life of a shoe man’ said the market man,
And Sven Eriksson too, perhaps, must have thought something similar.
And back in the Green Dragon, sheltering from the cold April rain,
I remembered dry stone walls, new born lambs, Buttertubs Pass,
Waterfalls, old disused lead mines, trying to buy marmite in Muker,
(“Only had 5 people ask for that in 16 years, no point in stocking it”)
And bluebells, celendine, anenomies, marsh marigolds,
Orchids and violets, a dipper and a kingfisher,
A dead lamb lying in the cowslips,
Forget- me- nots by Private Bick’s World War 1 gravestone.
And digging potato trenches, remembering every hole you’d ever dug.
And clergy praying for Beckham’s recovery,
Then meeting a diabetic friend,
Who’d just had his toes amputated,
And that seemed to put all the obsession with Beckham’s foot
Back into the right frame,
Especially when reading of the Argentine banks,
And their IMF inspired run on their citizens’ lives.
Then having your windows cleaned
Just as the May blossom scattered in the wind
And a swallow’s excrement slid down a window pane,
Just after the cleaner left,
A World Cup bad luck rune if I ever knew one.
But Oxford was runic too,
All Matthew Arnold and lilac, cherry blossom and wisteria,
All All-Souls, Magdalene and Baliol,
All wind-wandering, weed- winding Gerard Manley Hopkins,
The promise of an English spring and a Japanese success;
But the M6 was more like the window cleaner,
Total bad luck vibe,
A fortune-teller’s circus caravan,
Broken down,
Awaiting the AA on the hard shoulder,
Surely the gypsy, like Seaman, should have seen it coming?
But any musing on the first broken down fortune teller’s wagon
I have ever seen in my life,
Was soon cut short
When we were overtaken by a giant British Salt Lorry,
With giant “Best of British” lettering emblazoned on the back,
And it wasn’t until we got close again,
That we could read the small print,
“Subsidiary of US Salt”,
They even own our salt now, as well as our language,
And our stock market.
But when the World Cup started,
It was good to find that the US work ethic
Has not yet achieved total supremacy over here in Europe,
Witness all the Irish Leprechauns skiving in Japan,
Witness all the people in our English streets,
In our bars and in our restaurants,
With the radios up to their ears,
5 Million skiving to watch the 1-0 Argentina win,
Protestant work ethic right out the window;
Hearing the national anthem on the 46 ‘bus
With a tranny in my ear,
Just before the Nigeria game,
All the streets and roads as quiet as a funeral
But just waiting for a carnival jamboree,
(Who cares about Wall Street?)
Then getting home to play table football on a bed of nettles,
At a busy junction between Brickrow and Lansdowne,
Beneath a giant billboard showing goalposts in the desert,
Part of Neville Gabie’s collection of goalposts throughout the world,
And there we stood, playing table football,
With ad hoc terracing for spectators, artists, drinkers and competitors,
Until the tournament was disrupted by the arrival of a police car,
The police having been alerted by a ‘phone call complaining about noisy yobs,
And they only left when they saw the local art brochure,
Which seemed to provide documentary evidence of the event’s bona fides,
And they slowly reached the conclusion that this event was indeed art,
Rather than an act of drunken vandalism,
Which sort of makes you think, don’t you think?
And in between matches and interrogation,
Neville told me of his recent commission at the World Cup,
And how South Korea was in love with football,
But in Japan away from the stadiums,
You wouldn’t even know the World Cup was on,
As the TVs in the bars were showing baseball not football,
And no-one seemed remotely interested in anything,
Apart from money.
But the next few days back here and over there were wonderful,
Giants killed,
Denmark vanquished,
Optimism soaring,
Flags flying,
Pubs profiteering
And we were all as high as kites,
Until the inevitable comedown,
Paraguay birdman style,
Big time,
Or was it with a whimper,
Sick as the proverbial,
Down to earth,
Vertical flight path unobstructed by any flying flags –
What unspoken, unwritten cultural law says
“All flags must come down off cars as soon as your team loses”?
We beheld the power of imitation straight after the Brazil defeat,
And the creation of instant tradition.
All flags down in 5 minutes,
Who started it?
I watched the game at school,
My first big screen experience,
Big screen courtesy of the Salvation Army,
500 teenagers all watching a game together for the first time,
Enjoying the vibe, doing the Mexican wave,
Singing “We’re going home, we’re going home”
With a healthy sense of irony,
With 5 minutes to go,
And then meekly trotting off to lessons,
Appalled by replacing my England shirt with a Brazilian one,
But I had just come closer to winning 25 quid,
For, after all, I had drawn Brazil in the sweepstake at work,
And you have to look on the bright side, don’t you?
But, after this, the tournament proved to be a bit ant-climactic, didn’t it?
The dreary predictability of yet another 1 nil Germany victory,
The dreary predictability of yet another 1 nil Germany victory,
The dreary predictability of yet another 1 nil Germany victory,
The dreary predictability of the Guardian,
Its running of earnest features, articles and letters,
And complaints about anti-German attitudes in England,
And how this was akin to racism,
And, to be honest, I went shopping on World Cup Final day,
And for the first time in my life we played the let’s not find out the score game,
And it was quite an easy game to play,
Surrounded by young men in England shirts,
Who no longer cared about the tournament at all,
And if it wasn’t it for the radio build up,
I wouldn’t have known a game was on at all,
Stuart Hall on Radio 5 with the Jurgen Klinsmann Award,
For the best dive of the tournament,
And likening Oriental football teams, somewhat controversially,
To the diminutive Fakawi tribe,
German fans in some Munich bar,
Monotonously, drunkenly, singing, “Ein Rudi Voller”,
Which is when I drifted away,
Remembering my best World Cup moments of the tournament,
Giving a school assembly on the Jubilee and the World Cup,
And The Head of Music whispering to me,
Just as I was about to start the afternoon event,
“Senegal are one nil up”,
So I kicked the function off with that news,
And the whole of Leckhampton College cheered to the rafters;
The tension and unbearable lightness of beating Argentina;
Working on the computer at school with my tranny by my ear,
And shouting in delight when Ireland scored against Germany in the last minute,
And running down the corridor in manic glee;
Hearing my mate Jim’s story of Ireland against Spain,
The out all day, so avoiding the score to watch the video scenario,
Turning on his car ignition,
Hearing Radio 5, “Ireland thoroughly deserved to win,
Turning off the radio straightway,
Then watching the whole of the game,
Complacently confident of the final outcome,
Until the awful truth eventually dawned on even Jim,
Leaving him even more stupefied than anyone who was even there;
It’s stories like that that keep you going,
Good old Jim,
And a great World Cup too –
But those were the songs of Spring,
What will the new season bring?

Source: http://footballpoets.org/news/2002/07/19/summer-time-and-the-living-is-easy/