“Of course you should go to the pub for England matches,” a friend said to me at the start of the World Cup.
He was planning to watch the England’s opening game against Tunisia at the Old City Bar in Oaten Hill.
Hmmm. The last time I watched a big England game in a pub was during the European Championships.
It was a 5 o’clock kick-off, if memory serves me right. The pub was rammed with 30 minutes to go and still people kept coming in.
One bloke, who had made the sensible decision to start drinking at lunchtime, was thrown out before it started for behaving aggressively when it took two minutes to get served.
Hard-pressed staff were trying desperately to keep up with demand as customers fumed that they were being ignored.
There was a queue outside the toilet. And once you actually got inside, you found a floor covered in urine and bogroll.
I decided to leave at half-time and watch the rest of the game at home. Yes, it meant I was missing all the atmosphere and shared joy you get from watching England with your compatriots.
But I honestly didn’t mind forsaking that for comfort, the ability to move freely rather than having to squeeze myself between the sweaty bodies and a clean toilet.
So England v Panama today? I’ll watch it home with a can of beer and a pizza.
The real joy of the World Cup is that being in a place like Canterbury we attract so many foreign visitors. That means that if you go to a pub for a non-England you’re very likely to rub shoulders with fans from other countries. I’ve already had chats with Belgians, South Koreans and even a couple of Peruvians. I’ve not seen any Saudis in the pub, though. There might be a reason for that…