In an act so unpatriotic and girly that I’ll probably be lynched by my workmates tomorrow, I didn’t watch the England match last night.
I like the World cup, but having watched the disappointingly bland France vs Uruguay draw on Friday I snapped up a spontaneous invitation to dinner with the girls. The odds of a good evening were just better.
However not watching the match didn’t make any difference. Leaving my Islington flat at 7.25pm I was instantly assaulted by loud cheers echoing around the square, coming from the pub next door and the pub over the road, both of which were packed with drooling fans. This was just an appetiser. Walking to the bus stop the streets were almost deserted, with the exception of a few heavily made up women sprawled across empty outside seats, wishing the next 90 minutes away over cocktails.
On the bus five minutes later it was as if five hours had passed me by, presumably by knocking me over the head with a football and roaring until I passed out. At least half the bus passengers were drunk, two-thirds seemed to know each other (they were passing around beer cans and biscuits as if on a picnic) and three-quarters were being generally rowdy. It was the night bus, but during daylight hours.
I didn’t mind too much, their joyful stumbling and singing when they heard it was 1-0 already was funny to watch and sort of endearing, although admittedly I would have felt happier if I hadn’t been alone. When the chanting began though it stopped being funny and became racist and unnecessary. The chants were all based on the idea that the USA should go away, but in more forceful tones. The man stood nearest to me told anyone that would listen that if anyone supporting the USA got on the bus he’d show them where to go, “cos thisssissa England busss riigh”.
I got off as soon as I could, crossing the road quickly to get away from them as fast as I could. In this great city, an international hub of culture, commerce and colour, once head of a great empire, these few natives were ignorant, backwards and disgusting to watch. I felt ashamed of my countrymen, and not altogether sad later when the Americans equalised.