I’ve been rather enjoying the World Cup so far (and not just because my fantasy football team has been doing rather well for once–today’s been particularly good, with both Tim Cahill and Tomas Rosicky in my team). Maybe it’s just because, unlike the European Championships two years ago, this time we’ve got two tellies, so Sal can happily retreat next door with Big Brother leaving me happily ensconced in front of Italy – Ghana.
On Saturday, with Rhys in town, we got up early and headed East to fit a suitable venue to watch the England match. I had briefly thought that maybe we should head for the big screen at Canary Wharf (although it turns out that that would have been a mistake), but instead we had intended to watch it at the Vibe Bar, on Brick Lane, labouring as we were under the misapprehension that their big screen would be in their big beer garden. When it turned out that they were actually showing it inside, in a big hot stuffy room, and that we had to pay for tickets, and that they were in fact already sold out, we decided that maybe we’d go somewhere else. Helpfully, when Sal asked the girl on the ticket desk if she knew anywhere else in the area that was showing the game, she said “Yes”.
So, left to find somewhere on our own, we went to investigate the local pubs, and ended up in a real East-end boozer round by Spitalfields, perhaps the biggest contrast we could have picked from the overtly trendy ShoreditchTwat-esque location where we’d originally planned to watch the game.
The pub we ended up in came complete with an authentic eccentric East End landlady, who popped up with five minutes to go in the game, and began removing furniture. I’d barely got up from my chair to peer around the bloke in front of me whose head was obscuring my view of the screen when she’d whipped it out from underneath me and carried it outside. “I’ve got to make room” she said, as she came back to relieve us of our table. All very sensible, if she’d chosen to do this at the start of the game, but with 85 minutes on the clock this seemed a rather odd move. Ah well, a good result anyway, and the less said about the game itself the better.
Yesterday, we spent a pleasant afternoon loafing about in sunny Regent’s Park, with our picnics, beers, and boules. We even staged our own mini football match, which I enjoyed a great deal (partly because, although I’ve always been rubbish at football, I don’t seem too bad when everyone else in the game is an Aussie more used to kicking a brown oval ball). Now, there’s officially a “no ball games” in the section of Regent’s Park where we’d chosen to picnic, but it’s a rule that’s largely ignored by most visitors. At one point, long before we began our actual football match, a crazy old lady came round the park, telling each and every person in the park who looked like they might be about to break this rule that “there’s no ball games in here, you know”.
“Are you Australian as well?” she said to our friend Andrew, who had been throwing around an AFL footie with a couple of other Aussies who randomly turned out to be in the park too. “It’s no ball games in here don’t you know!”
When he tactfully pointed out that most of the park’s other visitors were ignoring this rule too (some of whom were probably Brits), “Oh no,” she said, “they’re all Arabs,” and with that she was off to tell the rest of the park off, one by one.
Today, I took a late lunch and popped out to catch the first half hour of the Australia – Japan game, before I had to dash back, unpleasantly sweaty, to sit in a meeting. Luckily the guys from IT were setting up the projector/TV tuner combo in our big meeting room, so I got to see the cracking last ten minutes–all three Australian goals–back at the office. Not bad so far, anyway. Roll on Trinidad and Tobago…