Dom Joly: It's best to follow the action from the 'wrong' side of the world
Weird World of Sport: I simply "became" Spanish and forgot about English sporting disasters for a while
Monday 12 July 2010
All this watching of sport is just so knackering. I suspended hostilities with football to watch the World Cup and it's got out of control. I think I've seen every game played and can now converse with some authority about the merits of four-four-two, four-three-three, four-two-by-four; actually, maybe not... But I have watched a lot of football. Add this to having to watch Wimbledon to make sure that Andy Murray didn't win (it wouldn't be a proper summer without it – it's as essential as strawberries and river- swimming). I've also been dipping in and out of the cricket along with the occasional foray away from the screen to watch my kids in various school sports events and stock up on food and drink. I'm exhausted. I need a break. A lot of friends have upped sticks and headed off to South Africa for the month. I couldn't think of anything worse.
I never understand the need actually to go out somewhere to watch sport. My friends have paid a fortune to get there, another one to get into the games, only to watch the inevitable England disaster leaving them to wander about the tip of Africa with very little to do. As they tend to lack imagination, they keep texting me, telling me that I am "missing out" because they are on safari/the beach/being carjacked.
Personally, I liked the fans who, once England were out, simply decided to follow another country. I heard one guy on Radio 5 Live who had decided to go with Uruguay. He seemed confused as to why he had thrown his lot in with this tiny country. One strand of thought was his confession that he was to marry "two Uruguayan girls" should they reach the final. Presumably, this curious arrangement was made after he started to follow them.
This therefore still didn't explain his initial attraction to them. I'm a well-travelled man and racked my brain to think of what little I knew of Uruguay. The best I could do was that they are cannibals. The rugby team that crashed in the Andes and started to eat each other in the book/film Alive were from there. I'm sure that this is unfair on Uruguayans and that their national dish is not a "cold meat platter" but I struggle to know much more.
The capital is Montevideo which, according to my nine-year-old daughter, means: "I see mountains." I'm not sure if this is a reference to the "eating fellow passengers" incident or simply a coincidence. Oh yes, Homer Simpson once famously pointed to a map of the world and announced with some glee that there was a country called "U R GAY".
In the end my decision on who to support once England were out came down to practicalities. I knew that I would have to leave my sofa for work purposes. I was going to be in New York for the final and it was going to be difficult to find a plethora of Uruguayan or Dutch bars. So I went with Spain (Germany was obviously not an option). This paid off as the Big Apple is rammed with Spanish bars revelling in this European Hispanic football success. Having dark hair and brown eyes I simply "became" Spanish and forgot about English sporting disasters for a while.
Sadly, however good the atmosphere, I still can't help longing to be back on my sofa, remote in hand, the sporting events of the world at my fingertips. You can't hit the red button, pause the game, flick over to watch two minutes of cricket when you're stuck in a stadium or crammed into a bar full of hysterical American Spaniards.
No, for me, I'm a dedicated armchair spectator. But it all has to stop soon. I can't keep this lifestyle up. My house lies desolate and unkempt (as do I), my dogs stare at me forlornly hoping for a walk and my wife left me some weeks back but I didn't notice until I found a note under a huge pile of empty pizza boxes.
It appears that she has run away with a gentleman called "Nigel" who, and I quote, "does not feel the need to lie around the house 23 hours a day scratching his arse and watching sport..."
Obviously this is all upsetting. But, if I'm frank, Nigel sounds like an arse. I wish them well, however. I would write them a good luck card if I knew where they were living and I didn't have to settle down for the cricket.
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