Just loving the World Cup

What do you when your husband has a World Cup wall chart?

In the couple of months up to the start of the competition, he had been fretting that he needed a really big wall chart and that none of the newspapers had provided one.

From this, you might deduce that my husband is a huge football fan. He isn’t really but once every four years, like some dormant pod that nestles underground for three years and 11 months, his fanaticism breaks out and flies around madly for a month before withering and falling back to earth.

This will be our eighth World Cup together.

We married in a World Cup year but do not speak its name as England didn’t qualify. I don’t recall a wall chart making an appearance that year.

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This year, many wall charts came but none were chosen. Smaller ones were summarily cast aside.

“If I don’t get one soon, I shall have to buy the Gary Lineker World Cup magazine,” he warned, adding happily: “I think it’s got a sticker book.”

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This is clearly the sort of enticement that even a top professional cannot resist. Next thing you know he’ll be wearing an England T-shirt under his collar and tie and getting a three lions tattoo somewhere discreet.

I advised him to hold back on the Gary Lineker’s World Cup issue, if only because I didn’t want him lying to the check-out assistant by pretending he was buying it for an imaginary grand child (Note to Ruth and Mark: this is not a hint).

Eventually, and in the nick of time, a big glossy wallchart arrived with one of the Sunday papers and he was over the moon (footballing term meaning ‘pleased’ as in “over the moon, Brian”)

It didn’t leave his side all day. He arranged in over the back of the settee like a World Cup antimacassar and admired it.

“Where were you thinking of putting it?” I ventured at last.

“I thought I might leave it there,” he replied, adding hastily: “Joke” as he saw the dark cloud pass over my reddening eyeballs and watched my canine teeth grow as hair sprouted from my temples and I gave a bloodcurdling howl that made all the moggies in a five-mile radius throw themselves through their catflaps.

“I’ll put it up in the kitchen.” He gathered up his precious thing and exited only to return, defeated, when he couldn’t find an area of wall big enough to accommodate it.

He looked lovingly at the expanse of bare wall next to the fireplace. I noticed.


“I wasn’t going to put it there…”

After a full survey of the house, garage and garden, he decided on the downstairs cloak room. Now I don’t know if he’s in there to wash his hands or to fill in his chart.


We went to Brighton in the end.

This vibrant city on the south coast extended a warm greeting to a pair of escapees from East Anglia who would really rather have gone to Venice.

The town slopes up from the sea and, over the course of two days, I began to look forward to global warming. A rise in sea-levels would soon get rid of that hill.

We explored the gaily-appointed stores in The Lanes – an area jam-packed with small, independent shops. Lots of them were selling vintage clothing – some of it nearly as old as what I was wearing.

On the pier we discovered, to our delight, the deckchairs are free. Sadly, whoever made mine assembled it upside down and my husband had to extricate me from a tangled mass of wooden frame and canvas. We sat in the sun and dozed like Darby and Joan. It’s a wonder we weren’t expelled from Brighton and sent to Eastbourne .

The Pavilion, an onion-domed palace at the heart of the town, is magnificent although you often found yourself standing behind groups of people all plugged into their audio-guides. I can’t be doing with them – I like a more whizz-bang historical experience followed by a leisurely browse in the museum shop.

While the Pavilion was an education, so was our hotel. It was a boutique hotel (ie small) a few steps from the esplanade in a street largely populated by B&Bs, student accommodation and bedsits.

The room was beautiful. A large, comfy bed; a sofa; windows that stretched from the floor to the high ceiling and a splendid bathroom with very take-homeable bath products.

There were the usual tea and coffee making facilities and a hair dryer. There was also a mysterious box on the dressing table, which with my insatiable journalistic curiosity, I didn’t spot until my husband drew it to my attention.

It contained a number what I shall carefully describe as “aids to lovemaking”.

I was amazed. We usually get a little sewing kit.

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