The World Cup is just around the corner. They seem to come faster and faster, in inverse proportion to your country’s expectations of winning (by which I suppose I mean, they creep up on you when you haven’t a hope in hell).
At a language school, you have to gird your belt and grit your teeth a little. World Cups are a potentially fractious time at language schools. For example in 2002 I remember watching most of the games in a school in Rome where I was working. There was a certain amount of bad blood between the English and Italian staff, which culminated in orchestrated jubilation from the Italians when the English went out (the English were watching in one room; the Italians in another). Fortunately the Italians had already departed the competition in some bitterness, if not actual ignominy.
Four years later I received a text message from an ex-girlfriend (Italian) during the final, reminding me that Italians were not only the best footballers, but also the best-looking footballers.
Again, after the exit of England in 1998 at the hands (not literally, this time) of Argentina, I remember being taunted by a couple of Argentinian youths on bicycles, merely because I was carrying a football. We are better than you, they shouted. No doubt.
OISE Cambridge has an unusual interest this year, because one of its recent students is coaching the Italian team. And Cesare Prandelli’s first game will be against England. I think perhaps I’ll watch that one at home.