La, la, la, I’m not listening June 30, 2008Posted by Peter Hornby in personal.
The world of the US soccer fan is often a difficult one.
Every four years, Lorraine and I become seriously addicted to the World Cup. In 1994, when the tournament was in the USA, we joined a crowd of of 90,000 to watch a game live at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In 1998, when France were the hosts, we set up a bed in our TV room so we could wake up at 4am to watch games live. Things were a little different in 2002, when the games were in South Korea and Japan. The imbecile broadcasters had re-invented the idea of time-shifting, broadcasting the games “as live”, at some allegedly reasonable hour for US viewers, or, more likely, for US advertisers. We were forced to develop new and innovative techniques for avoiding untimely news of results. Mainly, this consisted of locking ourselves in the house and not answering the phone. Late in the tournament, we held a summit, and decided that we had to break isolation to restock on essentials. We were waiting for the broadcast of the quarter-final match between England and Brazil. England had easily beaten Denmark in the last 16, and we were hopeful that the team might be able to find a way past Brazil, and, as an expatriate England fan, with a memory going back to the team’s triumph in 1966, I was excited at the possibility. [Note to self: you were also living in a world of total fantasy.]
So, we’re out of the house. The radio’s off. We’re trying not to listen to passing conversations. We’re hoping not to meet friends. And then, who should we see in Trader Joes but our old friend Steve Hackett, who used to work at Joe Varga’s wine store in the early nineties, and who we hadn’t seen for probably six or seven years. And what were Steve’s first words on seeing us? Would you believe “Hi, Pete, shame about England, wasn’t it?” I am a man of iron control but, I have to say, I was tempted. Lorraine screamed, and we were almost thrown out.
Fast forward to yesterday. We’d become interested in the Euro 2008 tournament in Switzerland and Austria. The games were broadcast live at lunchtime, Pacific time, and we now have a DVR, so life was good. Lorraine, as you may have guessed if you read her blog, is now at the Sawdust Festival all day, every day, so I recorded yesterday’s final between Spain and Germany, and dropped back into isolation mode – no looking at the BBC website, TV off, mostly. So, it got to 7pm, and I was driving down to the Sawdust with dinner for Lorraine. Almost without thinking, I turned on the car radio, permanently tuned to the San Diego sports station, for reasons which are becoming increasingly hard to explain, given the mind-numbing idiocy of most of the hosts. On reflection, I thought I was probably safe. American sports-radio hosts yield to no-one in their not-invented-here loathing for soccer. If it ain’t baseball, basketball or football, they have less than no interest. Sure enough, it was baseball, and the guy was excited that the Tampa Bay Rays were leading the American League East this late in the season. I relaxed, content that all was right with the world. And then, with no warning “And, in other news, congratulations to Espana”. I mashed the button, but it was too late.
So, congratulations indeed to Espana on a deserved win. I enjoyed the game, but it’s not the same when you know who won.
But, for the 2010 World Cup, there will be new measures. Oh yes, new measures indeed. Count on it.