As the nation gears up to watch the football, I’ve decided to let myself get swept up as well, in a middle class middle aged manner. I’m with Tristan. We went to Waitrose in Richmond, don’t you know. There we purchased two big boxes of “Big Drop” non-alcoholic beer, and an unbelievably vast tomahawk steak that’s in the Father’s Day sale for £15 a kilo. On balance we decided not to do the steak tonight, but at some point, with our brace of dead dads, we will eat the gift designed for them ourselves. My dad wouldn’t want it of course. Meat on the bone wasn’t his bag at all. Football wasn’t either, but I’m thinking of him tonight nonetheless because of the divided loyalties brought on by this particular football rivalry.
England are playing Scotland. Dad would’ve been rooting for Scotland all the way – if he cared about football. Dad flew a Scottish flag from the British Bobsleigh that he drove. Probably not in the actual Olympics, although in those days there was more room for personality over science in sport. At his funeral I read a sturm and drang poem from the Scottish poet Walter Scott – about identity. I had blonde hair at the time, bleached for a part in a university play (or perhaps just as a youthful experiment). This was what I considered appropriate for my very Scottish father back then – it was fun to deliver:
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.
I’m not sure I identify as Scottish. I don’t really even identify with the memory of being that peroxide blonde firebrand with the recent hole where his dad used to be. Watching this match though, I’m not going to be cheering for either team with any great gusto. I’ll enjoy the game as best I can with my slightly limited understanding. I’ll be curious to listen if people boo when any players kneel for the anthem. And I’ll crack open a non alcoholic beer or five and I’ll participate in a cultural touchpoint for a change. Sure I’m not up to date with the talent shows. I barely follow the soaps although I’m curious about what’s going to happen with Alice in The Archers. I don’t even consume the news and views as voraciously as I used to after the taste it leaves in my mouth with these horrible bastards we seem to be stuck with. I’m going to watch the kickyball on a Friday night. And why not. Hurrah. Cmon, somebody.