Oh dear! It’s world cup time.

Images from Solent News & Photo Agency, Daily Echo.  

The world cup divides families like Marmite. It’s not the game of football itself that can cause problems in the family home; many families enjoy/tolerate the watching, discussion and moaning that every weekend fixture in the league brings. It’s that extra splash of Englishness that comes with watching the national team that can cause ‘family problems’.

Englishness isn’t a dirty word. It is in many eyes to be celebrated wholeheartedly on the odd occasion when we, as a country, feature on a world stage, especially a sporting one. It is a common bond through which all class and differences are put aside for a month and we rally together. We band of brothers and sisters, we happy few. It stirs the blood, we feel the hand of history on our shoulders. It’s Agincourt and Waterloo and Trafalgar, grrr! Have you seen the Rik Mayall, World Cup Song by the way, you’d think we’d colluded!

In itself, displays of patriotism is no bad thing. Where it becomes a ‘family problem’ is when it comes home to our homes. When ASDA, Tesco, Morrison et al. push out the patriotic boat and we buy it, oh we buy a lot of it; for our cars, for our PC Monitors at work and increasingly for our houses.

When I was a lad, the world cup was a time to be with your Dad and uncles and cousins. It was a gathering of men around the TV – there was not TV in pubs in those days, it was food and drink and cheers and shouting. It was the topic of every playground in every town and we played a lot of football, reliving the highs and lows of every game. Mum and sisters were less impressed. For them it was more shopping to buy, food to cook and tidying up to do when everyone went home. But that was the 60s, it’s what happened. World sporting events were listened to and watched in the home.

Now, with every pub and club in the land having a screen the masses have moved from the little screen in the front room to the big screen by the pool table. It’s a legitimate reason to go to the pub for many, and good riddance, I hear many say. We don’t want the world cup in or on our house. Our beautiful colour co-ordinated interior walls and furnishings and the wisteria covered external walls or our sleek German cars.

But I like it when we go a little overboard with our decorations. It’s very us, well some of us! The same people who over decorate their houses at Christmas, sucking enough electricity off the grid to power a small country, are the people who over decorate their houses when England is on the sporting stage. I like them. But my wife is glad I’m not one of them. How much can we get away with before it causes a big family fall out? The flags for your car windows, is that enough? A single flag hung from the window of you little boy’s bedroom window? Wearing your English shirt everywhere, day and night, is that enough? When does the nervous twitching in the eye start? When does the, ‘Not, in my house!’ conversation happen?

For those of you who fear the world cup visiting their house like the plague relax, it’s only four weeks every four years. It’ll be gone before it can do any real damage to your relationship! I see them dashing quickly from their houses to their cars to avoid the stare of neighbours and the casual observers eyes who stand and point or worse take photos and share them on Twitter and Facebook. I see them looking at their husbands and partners as they stand in front of the world cup displays in ASDA thinking, I wish I’d asked him how he liked to celebrate the world cup before I married him!

It’ll soon be over, then you’ll have Christmas to look forward to!

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