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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East

The World Cup

Steve Porter
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Due to a dispute over TV rights, very few matches are being shown live on terrestrial television. I have to go out to watch them in Can Peitx. I order a café con leche and look around for familiar faces. Torelló’s Argentine contingent, in their stripy blue and white tops, are huddled round a table. The community is growing after the collapse of the economy there.

Someone calls my name from below the television set in the corner. Catherine, a local English teacher, stands up and waves her arms. I make my way past the Argentinians and the Catalans to a small corner that is forever England.

“This is Janie,” says Catherine.

Catherine had told me that her daughter was coming over. Janie looks older than I expected. She must be in her mid-twenties at least.

Just then, Michael Owen breaks through and smacks the ball off a post.

“Owen, you twat. How did he miss?” wonders Janie in her north east brogue. The Argentinians in the bar throw their hands up and ask each other what happened to the defence.

“Come on. Give the lads some support. You’re British after all.”

“You know what? This month I’m ‘supporting’ England for the first time,” I whisper. My support extends to giving England credit if they win or play well, like when Owen finds his way into the box again and goes down under a tackle.

“Penalty! Come on, England. Come on, England!”

Beckham strikes the ball straight down the middle and the keeper dives out of the way. The Englishman runs to a corner flag to celebrate with the fans.

Catherine and Janie clap wildly and shout. I feel nothing.

My students would understand. Some of them want Spain to lose and many do not really care for la selección—the Spanish national team. It’s not too difficult for a Scot to enter the mind of a Catalan and vice versa. We can hold onto our loose change, as we both have a reputation for miserliness, and discuss our complicated dual national identities.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationOctober 2007
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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