Had all things gone to plan, then my London friends and I would have been spending this weekend meeting up for the first time since the Covid crisis first started, and going on a camping weekend in Kent.
However, I pulled out like a good catholic boy a couple of weeks ago, for reasons that I’ll go into some other time. My buddies were due to travel down yesterday, but on Thursday the WhatsApp chat group we’re all in became preoccupied with that most British of concerns – the weather – and in particular, given the forecast for Friday was thunder, lightning (the way you love me is frightening) whether they too should sack the weekend off, chance it and go anyway, or postpone travel until Saturday when the weather was predicted to be better, if only marginally so.
I watched their discussions from the wings, managing to supress those smug feelings I usually get when I don’t have a ticket for Glastonbury and the forecast is tumultuous. These are my friends, I reminded myself, and I wish them no ill, and specifically I don’t want any of them to be struck by lightning as they grapple with a guy-rope.
And then someone referred to pitching their tent as ‘getting their erection sorted’ and my cover was blown, to a predictable chorus of groans.
As it happens, I was glad that I had ducked out of the whole weekend, since I had not realised it clashed with the England v Scotland game in the confusingly named Euros 2020, postponed from last year because of the whole Covid malarkey. Imagine what a bad mood I’d have been in having rocked up in the driving rain, pitched my tent and then found out I couldn’t watch the match.
Of course, by the time the final whistle went, I was longing to be anywhere other than in front of my TV, even if it was in a rain-swept field in Kent, so desperately poor had England been, and how annoyingly good Scotland had been. Sure, it had ended goal-less, but England were lucky to escape with a point and Scotland unlucky to escape with the same.
Still, England should go through, and I genuinely hope Scotland do too – before the tournament kicked off I predicted to work colleagues that I thought they might progress out of the group stage at a major competition for the first time ever – and of course, Wales are still there so I can always fall back on my “honorary Welshman” status (as long as I don’t attempt the accent) when England inevitably crash and burn.
After the match last night, there was much discussion about quite what went wrong for England: were they fazed by the circumstance, the importance and history of the occasion? Did Scotland simply outplay them? Were Scotland more a team who gelled, whilst England were a team of individuals who did not? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
There was, of course, one other explanation which didn’t get much traction on the TV last night: the game was aired on ITV.
Coming into the tournament, England has lost nine matches on ITV and drawn 11. In comparison to the BBC, England’s record reads as Won: 14, Drawn: 3, Lost: 3. This gives England an impressive 70 per cent win rate on BBC, whereas on ITV it is a paltry 16.67 per cent.
England’s final group game, against the Czech Republic, is on ITV. Brace yourselves.
If that’s not a good enough argument to leave the BBC alone, I don’t know what is.
But anyway, I digress. My buddies are heading down to Kent this morning, intent on making the most of the situation, and I hope they have a really great time (impossible as that might seem without me there) and so this is for them:
Fingers crossed it will be next to, rather than under…