Sunday: England versus France
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The day started with shining spiders’ webs
Hanging from next door’s monkey puzzle tree,
An exotic reminder of last night’s opening ceremony,
A paean of praise to Portugal’s Christian imperialism,
With cannon blazing for Pope and for Profit;
I turned on the radio at breakfast,
Pre-match build up in full swing at 7 in the morning,
A text message about some bloke going to a car boot,
To raise enough money for his pre-match beer needs,
“Somehow I don’t think we’d get that text in France”,
The radio reported, before moving on to the French press,
Paul Scholes described as a “divine red head”,
A reference either to the devil or to blonde haired Angles,
I suppose, but certainly more recondite than the Sun.
We walked down to the station and on the train
Once more drew lots in our family sweepstake,
Where I read the ‘paper with the customary article,
“What do all these red crosses signify?” sort of thing,
An interesting question in polyglot Camden Market
And in the urbane Victoria and Albert Museum,
Where I spent the time looking for auguries:
“Oh no! Dad, here’s a 15th century French angel”,
“One all, here’s St. George fighting the dragon” –
Happy with a draw, we went back to Paddington,
And watched the gentle English landscape unroll,
The sweet Thames flowing softly, the chalkscarp downs,
The chalk-white White Horse at Uffington,
Gazing down on Brunel’s broad gauge ,
Until we reached and then left Swindon
Right on kick-off time, dead-on 7.45.
I turned on my pocket radio, but all I could get
Was a cowboyscape “Big Country”,
No football at all and so we once more looked for runes,
Stopping at a red light means a French goal,
Arriving early equals an English score,
Arriving late is a no score draw –
Needless to say when I pressed my nose
Against the window of the public bar of the Bell Hotel,
It was as I suspected, nil nil.
We got home, just as England scored,
Spent the second half whiling away the tenterhook time,
Until we mutely stared at the denouement, stunned;
Too stupefied to move, we saw the start of Skinner and Baddiel,
Then promptly turned it off, confused and appalled.
We went to bed, and re-played the game all sleepless night long,
Heskey in your head, Gerrard in your jim-jams,
Zidane in all your constant nightmares.
We got up, bedraggled,
To discover that UKIP had 22% of our local Euro vote,
And felt even more depressed.
Roll on Thursday.
I’m going up the pub.
“Your country needs you” it says,
“Support England here”,
Sponsored by Carling.
Aren’t they Danish?
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