Tim Key: 'I bought my brother the official World Cup football. Only it's black and a bit small'


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The Independent Online

I need to get my brother another birthday present off Amazon because the last one I got him exploded.

It's frustrating when you put a lot of time and effort into selecting the perfect pressie for your brother only to find out, two months later, that it's blown up and frightened his son. But that's the situation. And now I have to start over, looking for something appropriate, when I've already been through it once, three months ago.

My brother's birthday's in April and I happened to be flying back from Australia, so the present I got him ended up being quite exotic. And by 'exotic' I don't mean I bought him a boomerang from Melbourne airport. I love my brother far too much to shop for him in Melbourne airport. I did have a cursory look in Melbourne airport, sure, and some of the boomerangs – with their garish aboriginal daubings – were exceptional, yes. But this is my brother's 40th, thank you, so no, I'll not shop for it at Melbourne airport.

It wasn't until Dubai airport, in fact, that I threw myself into the project.

If you've only just remembered it's your brother's birthday, the shopping in Dubai airport is great. There's quite a large Ferrari shop for a start. Jaw-dropping. But it's a stretch for a columnist to buy a brother a Ferrari, and a Ferrari baseball cap would demand a definite change of personality from his end to make it work. So I ended up in a sports shop and, after much umming, I bought my brother, who I love and admire, a football.

It wasn't just any football, mind. This was an 'Official Fifa World Cup Football'. It was before the tournament, so I had no idea if it was legit. I had my doubts about this one, I must say. 'Official Fifa World Cup Football' was written on it in bubble writing and the ball was black and a bit small. Sure enough, it turned out to be unofficial. Two months after I gave him it – and he went through the charade of thanking me – I started watching the matches. Their one was white, classy, and would have made the perfect 40th birthday present.

The discrepancy between my brother's football and Neymar's wasn't the biggest problem, though. My brother pumped his one up, and was kicking it about in the park with his son when it overheated, expanded, and ultimately – as my nephew struck a penalty – exploded.

This was confirmation that this ball was unofficial. The ones in Brazil didn't explode, or if they did, they didn't explode in any of the matches I watched. It's possible that one might have blown in Switzerland vs Honduras, or one of Nigeria's early games, but I think even then I would have seen it on one of the glorious montages at the end of the tournament. Certainly my brother questioned its officialness in his answerphone message. He was keen to know where I got it from and how much I'd paid.

So now he needs another pressie, and I'm pulling out all the stops. Apart from anything else, I'm acutely aware that what you sow, you reap. One day it will be my 40th and I'd like something pretty spectacular from him. He's moneyed and I think I could be in for something huge. I sort him out now, and when my time comes I could be off on safari or smelling the leather on a spanking new caravan.

I cruise around Amazon, looking for bargains. But I know what I'm after. And eventually I find it. Brazuka: The Official Fifa World Cup Football.

But this time it really is official. I recognise it. It's beautiful. And massively reduced now it's all over. I add to basket.

Happy Birthday, Jon. This one's official. But don't over-inflate it or boot it too hard, because if this one bursts then I think that's probably me done.