Letter from the Arts Editor: We may be out of the World Cup but at least it brought the nation together



Today, England Expects becomes Britain Expects. And, as many of you will doubtless point out, Scotland Expects. Now that the England football team’s hopes have been extinguished at the World Cup, the weight of expectation moves on to Andy Murray’s British/Scottish shoulders. Murray, at least, unlike the football team, has fulfilled expectations in recent times. But whether he retains his Wimbledon crown in the next fortnight or not, I am pleased rather than worried that a nation is expecting.

Though we tend to breathe a weary, collective sigh when our expectations are disappointed, it can be that very disappointment that brings a nation together, sometimes even more than winning does.

In the past week everyone I have come across has had an opinion on football, on England, on the World Cup. I have discussed our failings in detail with virtual strangers. And we have bonded over our mock grief. Everyone, fan or not, has shared in the disappointment. It has provided no end of water-cooler moments. In my own field of the arts, towards the end of this week – though certainly on a lesser scale – I expect Glastonbury to provide much of the same. Everyone will be a music fan for the duration of the festival, everyone will have an opinion on the televised performances. And everyone will share and swap opinions.

In an age in which we spend so much time in solitude and in front of a screen, I rejoice that there are events that can unite us, and get us sharing opinions, even if they will often unite us only in national hand-wringing.

It doesn’t matter. It’s not just about winning or losing, it’s also about the communal moaning.