quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

football and fencing

England has gone very quiet. Car aerials have sprouted flags and a plague of bunting has broken out. Yesterday, some of the best restaurants were empty all evening while the small groups who congregated in theatre foyers glanced nervously at one another across empty spaces. The city centre was empty except for a couple of pairs of policemen in lemon-yellow jackets. Every so often the click of a horse's hooves on tarmac could be heard or a horse's eager snort in the face of restraint. Mounted police were patrolling the little streets around the old market square.

Every so often, a band of young people would erupt from one pub, singing and draped in St George's flags. A minute or so later, they would melt into the darkness of another doorway. Once, two band met, united, sang and danced together. They were not ecstatic; there was a forced element to their celebrations.

I wanted to ask them a question, urgently, but judged it unwise. I hurried across the square, into the darker streets. And the question became more urgent.

"What," I longed to know, "was the score?"

England was playing Sweden and I had been to the theatre. It was a play about Philippe Petit and his 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. I had to reach another, smaller theatre where my17-year-old daughter was playing the title role in Wedekind's Lulu ("superb", said the local paper, but I won't see the show till tomorrow). England had qualified for the last sixteen before the Sweden game and I was determined not to get caught up in the match.

In the interval, the score was 1-0 to England. The few who had any opinions were surprised; no-one expected an England goad. The precedent of Tunisia - similar score against Spain at the interval, beaten 3-1 - loomed in my mind. Only on reaching my daughter did I discover the score had been 2-2 and England topped the group. My daughter knew - a friend had texted her.

I know the key moments - Owen was injured, crawling and stretchered off a minute into the game, Joe Cole's goal in the first half, Rooney's anger at his substitution, Sweden's equaliser, Gerrard on fine form pulling England ahead, England's scrambling and inefficient defence and Sweden's second equaliser.

Nobody expects England's success. There's a gloomy sense of duty about the celebrations and a reluctant determination to view each match till the inevitable defeat. Someone may believe in the England team - a child, pperhaps.

There was gloom and emptiness at fencing - familiar faces missing. Holland versus Argentina ended as a draw. The Czech Republic against Italy tomorrow could be a good match, but I'll be working.

My fencing was fairly gloomy too - more conversation than fencing tonight. I have no more hopes for my fencing than for the England team but like them I'll keep going, as long as I can.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The year before last I was in London during the summer. I was with a group of Americans I work with and we were in London and Paris to look at antiques. To this day, I cannot believe that my company spent the money to send us there. But I digress.

Some of the guys wanted to by some cool soccer (football) shirts. We were in a store and one of the guys asked me who won the World Cup. I told him that I had NO idea. The six of us gazed back and forth at each other shrugging and looking puzzled. A young Englishman passed by and with perhaps the greatest look of disbelief and disgust I have ever witnessed, supplied us with the answer.


12:21 am  
Blogger kathz said...

English "expertise" on football is pretty strange. At the moment commentators and members of the public are bemoaning the English team's progress in the World Cup, complaining that they shouldn't really be in the last eight and that Beckham's goal was a sad day for English football! (Apparently it would have been better if he had missed because that would have forced the team to struggle and rethink their tactics.)

1:18 pm  

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