World Cup house party: The contenders
In less than thirty days, 32 of the world’s best footballing nations (plus Russia) will gather to have a house party. Well, that’s the premise for this thing you’re about to read anyway. For brevity - and because the house party will be being held in London where no-one could hope to afford a house big enough to host 32 people - I’ve restricted it to just the main contenders.
(Yes, I am aware what the title of this piece is. No, I don’t care.)
England has overinflated expectations, both for themselves and for the party. Their hope seems to be that one great party could heal their deep wounds inherited from parents and relationships past and present. England arrives at the party with fireworks, three bottles of gin (although only one bottle of tonic) and ‘all the ingredients’ (their words) for Jäger bombs.
The atmosphere quickly sours when they suggest drinking games. Eventually they fall asleep in an upstairs bathroom at roughly 3am while the party continues around, but fundamentally without, them. The fireworks remain boxed and unused.
Looks good in their Facebook profile picture. It’s the main reason you invited them. They’re a friend of a friend really, not part of the group that go way back. Somehow you can feel this all night. They hover.
Belgium drinks and dances but leaves politely when it’s just the hardcore left and someone starts drinking strawberry tonic wine out of a shoe.
You used to invite Spain to parties all the time. They were a bit disappointing though.
Then they went on a gap year. Came back the darling of the group, even though all their stories were actually quite dull, twee and just… well, yeah, they went on a gap year. Spain pulls the strings from the sofa rather than the dance floor. You always still fancied Brazil really. Brazil… moves.
Dull. Dull. Dull. Portugal stands next to the fridge, making you run the gauntlet every time you want to get a drink. Law of averages dictates they’ll eventually find a friend. Everyone just hopes it’s not them.
They’ve got one good story. It’s about the time they met Ray Parlour at Glorious Goodwood. It’s a good story, no doubt, and incredibly, no horses appear to have been harmed. But I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Don’t inflict it on us again.
Machine. Out 7 nights a week. Drugs. Drink. Cigs. Never seems to show it on the night, no matter how they look three hours before. Like an inverted, but no less fairytale, Cinderella, Germany rises from the ashes of the previous night. A Phoenix anew, with crisp clothes and a fresh trim, still imbued with that big night DNA to carry them through ‘til late.
Techno and trance. Relentless. You respect them, even if you’ve never quite clicked. There’s no alternative to grudging admiration as they push past 5am thrusting and gurning with not one but several dangerously engorged neck veins, a single bead of sweat serenely negotiating a path down their face. The floor is getting slippery, but I’m not gonna tell them. Are you?
Has an arresting party piece which the rest of their personality can never hope to live up to. A Derren Brown moment followed by several hours of the magician who you gave five euros on Las Ramblas in 2007.
Quickly the glory of that first impression fades. Argentina has a personality that steals from itself and eventually runs out of money. Now they’re asking you for a fiver so they can ‘nip to the shop for a can.’ Don’t be fooled. Don’t believe in Argentina.
You’ve heard a lot about France. You’ve stalked their social media. It’s all looking good. LCD Soundsystem, the latest Oscar winners plus The Incredibles . Cool without trying too hard.
But then they arrive. They’re accompanied by a friend who refers to himself as ‘the manager.’ Immediately, the wheels have begun to fall off. It only gets worse from there. Somehow, France never quite lives up to the sum of their social media parts.
Everyone still talks about the time a few years ago when Brazil’s shoe came off while they were dancing. They fell and, in attempting to grab a drawer handle for support, pulled a good third of a fitted kitchen off the wall. They were embarrassed. Everyone at the party was embarrassed for them. The fee was eye-watering.
But still, you’ll take the risk. Brazil are just worth the invite. There have been great nights. Nights that call to you through the years. You remember fleeting moments where a kiss almost seemed possible but also just too big, too life-changing. You can’t kiss... Brazil. Brazil makes you look deeper into yourself and demand more. Brazil makes you see the beauty in the clouds without the need for anything more than a can of Strongbow. Brazil is the party, whether they make the dawn or not.
So there you have it. The sun’s up. The party’s over. Brazil wakes up in a penthouse three miles north. Spain is making scrambled eggs in a rustic kitchen. England’s still in your bathroom.