Today England play their first game in the world cup. I was determined to find a bar in Como to watch the game. Being a footballing country I thought this would be easy, but after an hour of trudging round Como I began to suspect their passion in this region. I asked in every bar if they would be showing the football and they greeted the request politely, but with an element of confusion, as if I’d gone into a hairdressers and asked for a bacon sandwich.
It’s interesting how you take so many things for granted. Yesterday I was thinking Como represented some type of apogee of civilisation – quiet, sedate, polite and cultured. As my search today grew more frantic as kick-off approached I could be heard muttering indignantly as if watching football on TV were some kind of right that no person should be denied.
Eventually I found one bar that was showing the game. I was ushered upstairs to watch it. Initially I only had an edgy alcoholic of indeterminate origins for company, but gradually a few English supporters made their way upstairs, blinking as they too stumbled across this oasis in the desert of sporting television. We shared experiences and for the coming two hours were bonded together, our enjoyment increased by the struggle that had preceded it – well, we nodded politely to each other, but I like to think that’s what we conveyed.
As it turned out the game was rubbish, England dull, and the whole thing forgettable.