England Football Team

I read an interesting comment on an article about the England team in the Guardian, which rang true.  The supporters’ band with its four/five tunes (kudos for effort, I guess) the emphasis on turgid long ball football and ‘nicking a goal from set plays’, the reliance on a ‘target man’, the supporters dressed up as Crusader knights (oppression, religious suppression, colonialism, lack of tolerance).  It’s all so unimaginative. The players with their cagey interviews deflecting questions and Rooney, our most natural football talent, running around bulldozing players in a red mist and ‘tracking back’ (tiring himself out doing other people’s job because they’re not pulling their weight — cf. the entire long hours office culture in England).

Give us songs about the rise of the oppressed, joyous football and I’m sure everyone would reclaim the St. George this summer gladly. The smiling supporting clutching a Shrek doll in a Number 10 shirt was more like it. Why can’t we let go of things like a) expecting to win it every time b) the mania of the vituperative press c) long ball, direct football? Oh and bang in a few penalties!

But I realise this post itself taps into the English tradition of the moan, and so it goes … Although World Cups naturally bring memories flooding back. Watching them miss those penalties on our sofa in West Bromwich. World Cup Italia 90 on the Mega Drive, endless bags of Redmill crisps because my mother worked at the factory. USA ’94 and my younger brother being born.

“Arrivederci, it’s one-on-one”

Queen’s Walk, May 2010

It’s an iterative process. A sentence follows a sentence. A paragraph follows a paragraph. I read some DeLillo and it’s sentence, after sentence. Paragraph following a paragraph. But he does it better. More consistently. A weight develops. “They take a time-honoured event and repeat it, repeat it, repeat it until something new enters the world.” (Mao II:4) I remembered re-reading the first pages of Americana and I still can’t bring a pen to paper like that. “Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Lights were strung across the front of every shop. Men selling chestnuts wheeled their smoky carts. In the evenings the crowds were immense and traffic built to a tidal roar. The santas of Fifth Avenue rang their little bells with an odd sad delicacy, as if sprinkling salt on some brutally spoiled piece of meat…”