The Third Leader: Here we go...

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So, at last, after, metatarsal, untried youth, Sven flips, daring to dream, appeals for good humour and no harking back, 1,966 interviews with George Cohen and the revelation that an average car carrying two England flags travelling at 70mph burns an extra litre of fuel per hour: it's all kicking off!

Ah, yes: can there be a finer feeling than putting petty differences aside to unite with millions in entrusting your happiness to an outcome of no real importance? This, those who sneer should know, is why the enthusiasts are the true sophisticates. And why the Scots, Irish and Welsh should root for anyone else than England: because it's satisfying, winds them up a treat and doesn't matter.

And because we derive our happiness in varied ways. I'm fond of opening ceremonies. Today's, before Germany meet Costa Rica in Munich, is being described as "low-key", but anything involving Pele and Claudia Schiffer holding the Cup, Bavarian music, hip-hop and "flying women being lifted to the top of stadium" sounds pretty good to me. My only regret is that the great John "The World Cup is a truly international event" Motson is not doing it, as I wanted to tell him that Costa Rica has 1,200 species of orchid.

I've also come to appreciate, in the way of a connoisseur, the initial wary jauntiness, the rising note of worry amid the drums and whistles, the gloomy crotch-forward slump of the half-time studio, the eventful second period, the eerie after-calm in front of the logos, the montage set to something sad, and the old film on the other side. But I like a change, too.

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