Right. That's the election done. The next round-the-clock, fully tweeted, heart-stopping silly season event to hit the nation will soon be upon us, and it too will be a largely male affair. But that doesn't mean that the half-interested girl (or guy, for that matter) has any excuse for being uninformed, and with a month to go before the first game I've actually found myself looking forward to the World Cup.
I don't pretend to be on top of the details, or even who all the players are in Fabio Capello's initial selection (am I supposed to have heard of Leighton Baines? Of Michael Dawson?). It's the stuff around the edges of this carnival of testosterone that keeps the fairweather four-yearly spectators like me engrossed. So here's the half-interested girl's guide to the big event...
England manager backlash: Excitingly, after a controlled beginning, Capello this week dropped the ball, allowing the sports press to let loose. His crime? Launching an online scoreboard called the "Capello Index" that would rate players directly after the game. Fab saw a money-making venture; everybody else condemned it as divisive. A few more "blunders" and we'll be in Turnip Head territory.
Wags: Initially, Fabio banned players' wives and girlfriends from the England training camp, charmingly calling them "a virus", threatening to deprive us of the pap-shots of competitive handbag-jousting last seen in Baden-Baden in 2006. The presence of Abbey, Carly, Coleen et al threatened to undermine Fab's prescription of "ping-pong, looking at the TV and reading books" for the players during downtime. Thankfully, he has relented. This year, watch out for the Swags (Super-wags), a new variant who were famous before they started bedding a footballer.
Injuries: Players may look muscular and draw a fine salary to keep their bodies fit and strong, yet it's remarkable how delicate these poor lambs are. A "turned ankle" that your grandmother would dismiss can, for these men, escalate into a melodrama to make Giuseppe Verdi blush. At the World Cup, the more useful the player, the more likely it is he will be poleaxed by such a scrape.
England fans: Aren't as entertaining as they used to be. Expect high praise all round for St George's Cross-painted fans who show remarkable restraint as they sit through several games of football without "going on a rampage".
Gary Lineker: The crisp-hawking, oleaginous, spray-tan abuser will be all over your television for a month, as the BBC's anchor for the event. How is it that one can feel violated just by looking into his eyes? Escape to Adrian Chiles on ITV.
Best-looking teams: It's early days, but going by past performance in this category, I'll be closely watching France, Argentina and Algeria. England don't have a hope.
Scottish friends: The World Cup can be a very connective time, when one finds oneself talking about sport with complete strangers. Before discussing any of the above, just check your interlocutor isn't from north of the border – they really couldn't care less.
Penalties: Is there any moment of agony more sweet than watching a sweaty man in an England shirt nervously jogging up to a stationary ball? There is not. To keep spectators in this heightened state, our players make sure to never, ever practise taking penalties beforehand. Penalties are also the reliable exit point for England's progress through the contest, when I summarily switch support to a team of more handsome men (see above). As I said, I don't let myself get bogged down in details.
It wasn't supposed to be like this
A Tory PM – voted for by me? It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. On Tuesday night I slumped on the sofa watching David Cameron glide into 10 Downing Street to take the job he has believed to be rightfully his from childhood, if we take the word of friends who report that his nickname was "Prime Minister".
Yesterday I watched him make an oddly romantic speech with his new deputy, Nick Clegg, as birds chirruped at an outdoor press conference. And I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders.
To my regret, the Lib Dems managed to inveigle a vote from me last Thursday. Little did I know I was forfeiting my right to cat-call a Conservative premier for an entire term. In my defence can I plead that my head was turned by a feisty female candidate in a yellow rosette who, while she didn't have a hope of winning the seat, seemed to represent a spirit that I liked. I'll also admit I was impressed by Clegg's performance in the debates, agreed with his amnesty for immigrants, his party's plan to break up the big banks, along with a few other policies somewhere to the left of the Labour manifesto.
Perhaps I wanted to give Labour a chance to regroup. Instead I may now have to spend five years living under a Tory PM that I, however inadvertently, helped bring to power.
You've been framed
Who knows if it is true that the Queen's parting gift to Gordon Brown was a picture frame from Smythson, the posh stationery shop of which Samantha Cameron is creative director? In any case now Sam's in the role of First Lady, heads of state around the globe can also expect to be receiving girlie pink passport holders in finest calfskin, or gilt-edged "cellar notes" books on official visits from the British PM from now on. Smythson products, in my experience, have a rich sheen and are very expensive but turn out to be quite useless on a day-to-day basis. He won't want to, but it'd be quite fitting if Gordon put a picture of Dave in his new picture frame.Reuse content