On Sunday England will be playing Germany in the World Cup. Such matches always arouse strong feelings in England. If you are German you had better stay indoors.
My wife, who is German, doesn’t understand. “I should hang out a flag,” she said last night as we were walking along the river bank. She had seen an Australian flag draped over a balcony. Elsewhere there are England flags in windows, tied to gutters, pinned to walls, stuck on cars, flapping and fluttering wherever they can be hung.
“Other people have flags,” she said. “Why not me?”
Luckily it is impossible to buy a German flag in England. Otherwise she would probably do it and I’d be sweeping up broken glass in the living room instead of writing this.
She doesn’t appreciate the history. “I’ll always support Germany,” she said innocently while they were playing against Ghana the other night. “Because I like to see football played well. Yeah. The Germans really know how to play. This is proper football. Not like when England play.”
Ghana were in an all-white strip. Germany in an all-black one. “I hope they are not going to wear those awful black uniforms when they play England,” she said. “Really! Why do they have to wear black?”
Fortunately, because it is very important and she will probably be talking about it all through the match again otherwise, the Germans will be in White on Sunday. White shirts, black shorts and black socks.
England will be wearing their lucky all-red strip. They could have chosen red shirts, white shorts and red socks, the combination they wore in the 1966 World Cup final when, let us not forget, they beat Germany 4-2. But the all-red strip brought them victory against Slovenia on Wednesday and may be lucky again tomorrow.
Not that I’ll be seeing much of the match. Yesterday was Lanying’s birthday and Sunday is Mingzhu’s, so we’re having a double birthday celebration. Lanying and Mingzhu will watch the match and I’ll be going to Lanying’s favourite Chinese restaurant on the other side of the Thames to fetch some Sichuan kebabs.
The kebabs are for the meat-loving Germans who will be joining us for dinner and for Mingzhu, who also loves meat.
We have some new friends, Carley and Andreas. Carley is Chinese. Andreas is German. And Lanying has also invited Tom. I’ve mentioned Tom before. He’s the German who really likes Mingzhu and would probably be going out with her if there was any chemistry there. Lanying invited him because she was feeling sorry for him. He has been stuck at home after being crippled in a skiing accident so he has put on weight and become depressed.
So seeing the woman who won’t go out with him after watching his national team get thrashed will be just the thing to perk him up I expect.
Mingzhu doesn’t know he has been invited yet. I hope she doesn’t choke on her kebab.