(My friend Lisa is a Canadian who has lived in the UK since attending grad school in Manchester. She sends some notes from her adopted homeland as they prep for the World Cup.)
It all started out very innocently. A car flag waving on a black cab. The occasional overheard office discussion as to who would ‘make the team’. The arguments about why (or why not) to support England between the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish.
Yesterday something changed. No fewer than six requests to join Work Cup pools ended up in my inbox. One even sponsored by the large American company that I work for. We even received an email letting us know that in all our offices the soccer (I mean football) games will be shown in the employee cafeteria for people to watch during their breaks. Good thing we have wireless in our building.
This morning as I looked out my apartment window to the big estate across, overnight all the balconies have been decorated with St. Georges cross flags and red and white balloons. Yes, World Cup fever is alive and well in London. It is though, a different vibe than what I experienced in Manchester in 2006. In the shadow of old Trafford, football fanaticism reached unbelievable highs (and lows) – and all in the name of Mother England. London is different. While talk of England’s ability to pull off a shocking victory dominate, in this multicultural city talk often turns to other countries – the Italians I work with curse Cappello ; the French avoid any discussions of a repeat performance by Thierry Henry of his infamous qualifying round ‘incident’; and the Brazilians push aside any claim that they have lost their groove.
Every pub, on every corner has a billboard proclaiming that they are showing all the World Cup games – beer specials and world cup ‘pies’ are on the menu. As the buzz builds to kick-off, anything is possible. The crowds are assembling, and the lager taps are at the ready. The South Africans are out in force blowing their Vuvuzela horns (a marching band styled group just walked by my office on Buckingham Palace Road – maybe they are off to entertain the queen who is in town).
The only thing missing this year is an official England World Cup song. My recommendation for those nostalgic for the cheesy cheers is definitely World in Motion by England New Order (yes, Manchester’s New Order) ….We’re playing for England (En-ger-land), we’re playing the song. We’re singing for England (En-ger-land), arrivederci its one on one….
Yes. I will be cheering for my adopted home….now where did I put my pint.