He rushes into the classroom, eager for the day to start. This boy, who has barely spoken to me in the 3 years he has been in my form group is suddenly the first one through the door. He no longer even needs to speak, he just smiles and holds out his hand for a pen to complete the job we all now know is his. Calmly but enthusiastically, he approaches the board at the front of the room and adds in the latest scores.
‘Do you want me to check them online?’ I ask, hoping to be helpful.
‘No’ is his swift reply. Of course, there is no need.
There are a number like him in every one of my classes: children so consumed by their evening activities that they seem to have developed, overnight, advanced memory and organisational skills that have not been apparent in years of schooling.
I am of course talking about the impact of the World Cup. As I look at each of these students in my class I imagine that’s exactly what my husband must have been like at school: excited, obsessive and unable to think about anything else.
I’m not sure why I say ‘must have been’ – he still is!
The World Cup is now well into full swing and, with his sticker book complete, my other half is now free to focus on his one true love : football. Any team, any standard, any match. It’s indiscriminate. Most people would keep an eye on the big games, but may happily forgo Iran vs Nigeria in favour of a decent night’s sleep, but not my husband.
I have officially been a ‘World Cup widow’ for a week now. I used to hate phrases like that, wondering why these women didn’t either get into the football or get off their backsides, go out and find something else to do? Why mope around at home while your other half indulges in a pastime that doesn’t interest you when you could just indulge in one of your own?
I am very much a fair weather football fan.
In my teen years I became quite accustomed to watching England games when a friend and I discovered a pub with themed offers which changed throughout the game. Red card = buy one get on half price on cocktails! England goal = free shots all round! I even have very happy memories of being thoroughly soaked in stale beer while crammed in a crowded boozer to watch England in the last World Cup.
In our early dating days I would make a vain effort and attend one football match a season just to show an interest. I’ve never been one for watching it on the TV, but can definitely see the lure of sitting in the stands with hoards of other people al cheering for the same things. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm began to wane after a particularly uninspiring Colchester vs. QPR game on New Year’s Day, where the performances on both sides were so poor I felt sure they must have been suffering from hangovers almost as bad as my own!
As time went on, and I just couldn’t manage to muster the energy to match my husband’s enthusiasm for Colchester’s latest signing or the never ending stream of facts about players from other countries of whom I’d never heard, I pulled back. I would never try to prise my husband away for his beloved football – quite frankly, if I did I’d fail – so I just accepted that Saturdays were my single days and removed myself from the issue, relenting only for international tournaments where I could get in the mood with the aid of fancy dress, copious amounts of alcohol and pubs full of raucous fans and infectious enthusiasm.
The problem is, now we have a child.
As I write this, the vast majority of my friends will be cramming themselves into their local or gathering round at each other’s houses, angling for a good spot from which to watch the match. Beers will be opened, crisps shared around and the basis of every conversation which will happen tomorrow morning will be founded in the next two hours.
Meanwhile, I sit at home alone with a toddler while my husband watches in the pub*. I can’t complain – of the two of us I have definitely not shown enough devotion to earn this as my night out, but what do I do? Sit and watch it alone and hope I can grasp some enjoyment of it by myself? Watch the highlights later, make a mental note of some key events and pass them off as my own observations tomorrow morning? I could keep the toddler up late to watch it with me…he’d bloody love that, but I can’t imagine his comments will be any more insightful than mine and the morning tantrum would not be worth it!
I guess I’ll just have to go it alone, and look forward to future tournaments when the little man will be old enough to persuade his dad to stay at home and we can become one of those TV families who all sit down together to watch the match over crisps and Ribena…
On second thoughts, open the wine and pass me the remote.
*I should point out. He is actually in a different city for work so isn’t a complete git who has just abandoned me for football…though he probably would have anyway,