Football is reversion to childhood, and small boys don't know when a joke stops. Faux-nephew Nick has reached the riddle-telling stage: follows you around going "Hey, why was the little chimney too young to smoke? No, no, wait, pretend you didn't hear me say that. What did the big chimney ..." This degenerates into following you around going "big-chimney- little-chimney" and eventually crumbles altogether into formless shrieks and hitting his little brother. His mother deposits him outside the back door while doing that mother-thing of employing his full name, and he hammers on the side of the house and cries loudly for a while before he returns, snuffling, to demand a biscuit.
After bathtime, I go round to Anna's to spend the evening eating and snarling - only we have forgotten that she, too, has boys, roughly three times the size of Nick, and the football is on. The living-room is full of enormous trainers and beer. "Are you staying in tonight, then?" asks Anna. "Ug", they reply, though their friends politely say "Ug, Mrs Robertson" as they spray handfuls of Pringles over their wide-spread crotches.
At least we have the money to go out: London must be full of girls sulking in kitchens. But we don't even go into the French bar: through the glass doors we see that the stools suppurate men, their gaze fixed on the TV above the door, chucking their fists and bums in the air every 10 seconds as though something has happened. Everywhere, it seems, has installed television. We wander the streets, putting hands on door handles and retreating as voices bay "Yessss!". I wouldn't mind if this match had any connection with this country, but Italy vs Russia, for goodness sake. You can't even have a bowl of spag in peace.
Eventually, we track down a football-free zone, and it's filling its own little cliche-slot as the domain of a gay black man. We share the entire joint with four other women, who are getting sloshed on wine and going "He bought a beanie hat the other day. He expects me to be seen with him in a beanie hat and a Manchester United scarf". We suggest to gay black man that he might make a killing by putting a sign in the window saying "No satellite here". He reckons the cost of replacing the window every two weeks would cancel out any potential profits.
The bars are emptying by the time we emerge and the streets, previously eerily silent, heave with lads throwing up and tunelessly chanting "Football's Coming Home". Come on, boys. Football came home last year, scratched its butt, changed its trolleys and went out again.
Next Saturday I'm staying in and playing with My Little Pony.Reuse content