Deborah Ross: Confessions Of A World Cup Widow

No traffic is my idea of football heaven

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It's OK being a football widow although not, I suspect, as good as being a real widow when you get sympathy cards and maybe inherit the house, which you can then have all to yourself. Not that I particularly wish to inherit our house at the minute. We have World Cup guides scattered everywhere, wall-charts in every room, one of which is absolutely huge and has Baddiel and Skinner on it. Don't put this about - please! - but from the look in Baddiel's eye, I think he quite fancies me. (I'm not sure I fancy him back, even though he is much glossier then I ever imagined). We have the inflatable football chair, which takes a lot of puff, but it's worth it for such a design classic and we have the crisps and we would have a mantelpiece covered in all the invitations we've had to decline if only we ever received any. Breakfast conversations have lately gone like this:

"Dad, do you think England should play a lone striker with a three-man midfield?"

"Probably not. Certainly not against Trinidad & Tobago or Paraguay. Is it just me, or do you think David Baddiel fancies your mother?"

"Of course he does," I might interject, "who wouldn't?"

For the next month, my son (14) and his father (old; lucky to have me) will watch all the football there is, lying side by side on the sofa, possibly intertwined in a football-loving, euphoric embrace. I doubt either will sit on the inflatable football chair which, for a design classic, is remarkably sticky, particularly in hot weather. I might watch a bit at some point, but will probably get banished from the room for saying things like: "Who does their laundry?" And: "Please don't try explaining the offside rule to me again, as I really don't care."

I'm not even allowed to watch my son play football for his team any more because I cannot be trusted. "Mum, when you shouted 'good goal', did you realise it was an own-goal?"

"In that case, darling," I might reply, "it was a very good own-goal."

Anyway, I have better things to do, especially when the big matches are on, like drive up and down the North Circular, just for the hell of it while exclaiming: "Look, no traffic! Look, no traffic!" Is there anything as thrilling as being able to scoot round Hangar Lane without getting caught in a jam? During the last World Cup I think I got round three times without having to stop even once.

Also, during the last World Cup, with the telly always being on and Des Lynam always being on it, it got to the point that I was convinced he had actually moved in. "Des," I would shout, "supper's ready." He never came in to eat it, which I thought rather impolite, but as my son said consolingly: "He's probably eaten already. I'm sure Des loves a Fray Bentos pie as much as anybody." I hope Baddiel and Skinner don't expect to be fed over the next four weeks. I don't like the way Skinner looks at me, by the way. I think he might be worried that I'm going to come between him and David.

Next week: David makes a pass and I have some big decisions to make.

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