It may have come to the attention of some of you that some football – or soccer if you prefer – has just started in Brazil. You may have questioned the tenuous links between M&Ms or Pringles or Volvos and 22 men kicking a ball around in the name of sponsorship and advertising. You may have found various surfaces covered in small piles of Panini stickers. You may have been dismayed at the sight of a fixtures chart appearing on the wall. With the results tracked on it, match by match. You may have sat baffled through Bronx-born Jennifer Lopez’s appearance at the opening ceremony or heard the roar of shock as favourites-to-win* Brazil scored an own goal just 12 minutes into the opening match. Or you may have just watched your husband disappear to Brazil for 16 days in the name of finding out which country (at the moment) has got the men who are the best at kicking a ball about a bit.
In my case it’s all of the above as I am a Football Widow. More specifically I’m a World Cup Widow, but the ‘beautiful game’ can interrupt my life at any time, just more so than usual when it’s a World Cup/Euros year (every other summer then).
* I’m annoyed that through osmosis that I know this. That I know that no matter how many flags festoon pubs across the land England, in Group D, only have a 3% chance of lifting the trophy this time. That I can remember family events based on which tournament Husband was obsessed with at the time. That I would do rather well at naming host countries, winning teams and England’s progress for each of the tournaments of the past 16 years (ie as long as I’ve known Husband) in a pub quiz.
People ask if I’m annoyed that Husband justifies a magnificent holiday just for himself because there’s a match going on somewhere in the vicinity (because he doesn’t even necessarily always have a ticket – he just likes to be ‘there.’) In part, yes. Because it is incredibly self-centred. Fair enough when he was young and responsibility free. But he’s not. He’s spent thousands on this year’s trip, but we’re not having a family summer holiday (again) this year and he moaned at paying £100 for the Lollibop tickets.
Yes, because football is the justification for taking a trip to anywhere in the world, to places that I would like to visit, but he only went to because of the football. A month in Japan would have been lovely. Indeed it was – for him. I didn’t get to go on his 40th birthday trip to New York because there was a football match involved. The beaches and samba and statue of Christ the Redeemer would surely be a sight to behold, but I will probably never get to find out for myself because he will have ticked those boxes.
And meanwhile I’m at home, doing what I normally do, only more so – holding everything together.
Mind you, I’ll have the last laugh when Husband finds himself heading off to Qatar. Can’t say I’d fancy that one myself. He claims he won’t go, but I bet it’ll be like a moth to a flame.
But there’s never any reverse scheme either. I love dancing, but I don’t get to travel the world because of it. I don’t get a trip to Cuba to learn to salsa or to Argentina to immerse myself in tango. OK, I get to travel as far as Nottingham for a show sometimes but it’s NOT THE SAME.
It’s definitely hard not to resent the football and the excuses for husband to skip out on real life. It seems I’m not the only one though:
And this is without even getting started on the depressing sight that is a grown man fastidiously sticking stickers into his Panini sticker album. The ridiculous nature of the plethora of envelopes that come addressed to his online pseudonym, sent by other middle-aged men collecting them the same.
Husband claims that he’s collecting them on behalf of Noodles. But this doesn’t explain all the albums he has for the years before Noodles was even a twinkle in the eye.
Me: Noodles will be 6 at the next World Cup. Will you let him stick the stickers in then?
Husband: Yes. Of course!
And yet by the look in his eyes you could tell that actually, NO, he won’t be happy about having an album of the slap-happy sticking of a 6-year-old as opposed to his own meticulously precise alignment. It’s my bet that at the next World Cup we’ll have two albums on the go: one for Noodles and one for best.
‘How much does it take to complete a sticker album?’ was the question on Simon Mayo’s radio show the other week. About £80, if you have people to swap with, apparently, although they didn’t highlight the cost to a relationship. There is surely nothing less attractive than a man obsessing over getting his hands over a piece of paper with Ronaldo’s face on it.
And yet, despite the magnitude of Husband’s egocentrism in relation to his obsession, part of me doesn’t mind. I actually did a goal celebration-worthy little dance of my own as the door shut as he headed off on his trip. A fortnight without him around! Magnificent! Because:
• I’m happier and more relaxed when Husband’s not around.
That’s sad, but I won’t be nagged over my spending, or what I’m eating or how I take care of the children. There will be no ‘We should…’ conversations for a fortnight.
• I can’t be disappointed by him failing to do what he should have done if he’s not here to let me down.
• He won’t be under my feet
glued to Facebook ‘working from home’.
• I can apply face creams, paint my nails and spray whatever I want onto myself without him moaning that he’s choking on fumes.
• I won’t discover my towel is damp on the hanger, my chocolate stash has been raided and someone has eaten my tub of olives in the fridge.
• The milk will be found in the fridge, rather than being left to curdle by the kettle.
• I have control of the remote controls.
Well, apart from Noodles’ insistence on day-long Peppa Pig. And the fact that Husband cancelled all the good channels. But still, I can watch Made in Chelsea without shame, rather than a plethora of worthy BBC Four documentaries.
• I get the bed to myself.
Again, this will be scuppered by Noodles. But he sleeps better in my bed than I do in his. And he sleeps better when he’s not sleeping alone. Whatever, I’m going to sleep far better than when Husband is here.
• There’ll be no shouting at the telly as the World Cup matches are aired.
When will men realise that the players and the ref CAN’T HEAR YOU! And I DON’T CARE! So keep it to the confines of your brain. If you really need to share, turn to Twitter.
What makes men think that they, as lay persons, would know better than all the professionals involved anyway? And if that is the case and no one knows better than the man down the pub, how can the players/managers justify their massively obscene wages? In which case people should just boycott the system and stick to Sunday morning football at the local rec. No? Unwilling to do that? Then SHUT THE F**K UP!
So, ultimately, although I resent him having his solo adventures, actually the hardest part of being a World Cup Widow will be when he’s physically present but tuned out from family life in favour of those football-chasing men on the telly.
I have a plan though, (But more of that another time.)
In the meantime I’m going to make the most of him being away. Just wish luck in 2 weeks’ time.