A couple of weeks ago I had to watch the opening scenes of the England vs France game to see if Prince William was going to sing the Marseillaise in solidarity with the Paris massacre victims. This was entirely work-related, as I spent every waking second of the previous five days immersed in a world of horror, albeit from the safety of a London telephone.
Once the singing was over I changed the TV channel but had to occasionally flick back every 20 mins-or-so to find out if any form of atrocity was brewing in Wembley. At all times I had the volume turned off to dodge any chat about player form or league positions during the in-game commentary.
So, apart from the pre-match build-up and singing, I only watched a couple of minutes of pointless midfield passing and didn’t hear a solitary word during the match itself. Yes, you can argue that this has fatally undermined my scheme, but I can counter that by suggesting that I did my very best under the circumstances. Plus, it did provide some revelations:
First, British TV does not show Prince William singing a foreign national anthem. Roy Hodgson? Yes. But the future English King belting out the battle hymn of an overseas republic is clearly beyond the pale. Particularly, when said republic lopped the head off it’s own monarch a couple of hundred years ago.
Second, pre-match punditry is mind-numbingly inane if you haven’t heard it for the best part of six months. When you’re removed from the day-to-day fixations of the football soap opera, the pundits sound like the worst possible kind of anally retentive nerds – worse even than the sort of blokes who buy ‘Merry Sithmas’ jumpers. If they hadn’t been any good at thumping leather around a field, they would all be sat in a pub discussing the pros and cons of an ignition coil from a 1982 Datsun Sunny.
I’ve since run this revelation past a bunch of women and the general response has been “Er, yeah! Where have you been for the past forty years?” No wonder so many women have a dislike for football – and sport in general.
Third, Paul Scholes is able to talk about the need for “a stable centre-half pairing” without physically stopping for breath.
Fourth, England fans cannot sing in French. They can, however, mumble.
Last, who the hell is Alli?