I thought I may as well get the compulsory World Cup post out of the way. After all, it's only the first day and already I'm a little over the constant coverage.
Everywhere I went today, I found myself discussing the World Cup. According to my hairdresser, who confessedly knows nothing about football, reckons Spain are quite strong, England is in with a good chance but he is surprised that North Korea has a team. Admittedly, the North Korean team has me a little intrigued, my image of North Korea being mostly based on the Kim Jong Il puppet in Team America and a multitude of Japanese news reports discussing weapons of mass destruction and kidnap victims. I'm aware that makes me sound ignorant, but I'm a victim of the media dominated culture. Until CNN can produce a decent report showing the reality of North Korea, puppets and nuclear arms testing are all I've got.
Being English, it's always assumed that I will be a huge football fan, and quite possibly a hooligan. I feel a certain degree of national pride is at stake when I blatantly don't know the name of the England goalie (it's Green and he may not be goalie for much longer after the USA game, butterfingers!). The fact is, when you live in England, there's no escape from the football. It's impossible not to gain at least a little basic knowledge. In truth, it's hard not to take some interest. Football gets English people fired up in a fervour of national pride, or disgust, depending on the result. I love an international tournament for exactly that reason, I enjoy the banter and discussion it creates.
It's more difficult to get as involved when you live overseas. Ex-pats have to take a more active interest in their national team to keep up with events. The internet helps, but, frankly, I'm not interested enough to spent hours scouring the internet for information on the team's injuries. It's way more fun to scour the News of the World for stories on the team's sex scandals, and, this year, believe me when I tell you, that's been a full time job in itself. The coverage on Japanese TV, is, unsurprisingly, focused on the Samurai Blue, who have a few good players but little chance of making it past the group stages, thanks to a very difficult group. So, I'm forced to gain a little information from my (marginal) news intake and stretch it out to fill whole conversations, hoping that the other person knows as little as I do. Obviously, the language barrier is hugely helpful, I just look like I'm thinking and ask the person I'm talking to how to say "offside rule" in Japanese. Nine times out of ten, they have no idea either and I'm off the hook. Phew!
Of course, if they know what they're talking about and have an uncanny command of the English language, I'm in trouble. Which is what faking a fainting fit is for.
As the tournament continues, my national pride will rise and fall with the results, a feeling I revel in. Whether said pride will inspire further posts has yet to be seen, but I hope to be typing a jubliant post with regards to the amazing England performance in the final, leading to Gerrard lifting the cup. Proabable best not to tempt fate, though.