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Rewrite the Past July 12, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, In the news, Travel.
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Amsterdam / West Byfleet

How does it come to pass that a man of a certain age can arrive back home from a leisurely weekend in Amsterdam for the World Cup final, immediately pan fry a fillet streak with chopped garlic and chili and have his play of decorum somewhat shattered by the discovery that there is a fag butt in the English mustard?

It had been chilling in the fridge for at least a fortnight and I haven’t even summoned the will to go back and see what lurks amongst the Dijon. If ever I needed an appropriate welcome back to Wisley House then this is it.

What sort of person stubs out a cigarette in a perfectly good jar of mustard, puts the lid back on it and places it back on the condiments shelf in the fridge? The worrying thing is, given the Cow barbecue two weekends ago I can think of many candidates, myself very much included.

It’s been that kind of weekend. Everything in place, perfectly poised and then at the dies irae ,what is the final note? An unpleasant surprise. My weekend started with a metaphoric fag butt in the mustard upon waking on Saturday morning at 11am with a hangover that looked to set in. As the room span there was a lot of reasoining going on. Mainly along the lines of why should I feel the desperate urge to panic because although I’ve woken at a relatively late hour, I do not have to go to work. If one does then not have to go to work, why should waking at 11am be such an issue?

This question rumbled around the brain like a pinball in slow motion until the I realised that I really needed to be panicking as I had 60 minutes to get out of bed, pack and be at Terminal 5 to check in for a flight to Amsterdam.

Dehydration on the M25 is never good at the best of times, but especially not done against clock watching and traffic jams, Suffice to say I missed the flight, but only on a technicality. Cocktails at Village east, technicality – call it what you will. Whatever, it meant a delay until I could get away on the next flight. Waiting five hours in Heathrow for a 45 minute flight is no way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon with a headache.

Being in the losing nation of a World Cup Final is something I’ve begun to master. In 2006 I was in the South of France with my then French girlfriend (she does to this day remain French, if not my girlfriend). At the time I was having a near death experience courtesy of a rogue oyster and got very little sympathy in the aftermath of Zidane’s headbutt, Trezeguet’s penalty miss and the loss of Les Bleus. Even if I had a near terminal bout of Les Vertes.

Later that night as I lay agonised in bed, green of face with a raging fever and stomach cramps, she was far too pre-occupied hanging out the hotel window giving the finger and, in a manner not dissimilar to the possessed little girl in The Exorcist, screaming abuse at the Italians who’d thoughtfully made the effort to drive over the border nearby to toot their car horns and wind up the locals such as herself. (We exchanged texts yesterday. She was laid up on holiday in an Italian hospital with a minor illness and her Dutch boyfriend for company. How’s that for events coming full circle, though I was careful not to point it out)

Amsterdam was no different. I stayed with a dear friend, Jodi Banfield and her family. On Sunday Jodi and I shopped for food which she then prepped and I barbecued for their coterie of friends from the advertising world. Her daughter ensured that maximum surface area of my arms and head were coloured in in the red, white and blue of the Dutch national flag and surely enough, with the city ablaze in orange and high spirits (natural, herbal or otherwise) and everyone in anticipation of the biggest party the party capital of Europe had ever experienced, Iniesta scored and all the Dutch went home in shock or tears.

Now, I thought, is not the time to console anyone I’d bonded with over lager and the previous few hours that at least it wasn’t all bad news as I’d got Spain in the Cow office sweepstake

Jodi’s partner and one of his friends were the creatives behind the Nike ‘Write the Future’ World Cup campaign ad. The one which starring the likes of Walcott, Rooney, Canavarro, Ronaldinho, Ribery and other players setting both the world and the World Cup on fire with their skills and bravado to become god-like global icons. We all know what happened there. As a creative ad it’s a breathtaking piece of art. They couldn’t help the talent Nike gave them to work with.

‘Rewrite the Past’ would be my next pitch to Nike. Then we can be spared the spectacle of the once imperious Cannavarro run ragged and rinsed by New Zealand or a belligerently detached Wayne spending every 90 minutes walking around a football pitch like Raoul Moat trying to behave himself on day release.

How brands see football is never like real life of course. Any fan will tell you, there are few heroes to be found and watching football mostly consists of interminable boredom, the occasional moment of optimism that almost always quickly morphes into a brutal buggering of jailbait proportions before a return to the boredom again. Amsterdam was a fluffed Arjen Robben shot from exploding into the wildest night of joy imaginable. Instead people dispersed quietly and the cycle through the cobbled streets past the wilting, heartbroken Dutch will stick in the memory.

Three World Cup defeats can start to chip away at the national psyche and do permanent damage. How can they pick themselves up from that? Well, there was also a noticeable charge by a small minority toward the red light district and there you may have your answer. For the rest, they will have to make do with sunflowers and Gouda.

So will anything have lasting impact as a result of this World Cup? Gloria at work certainly hasn’t been the same since someone crept behind her and blew a Vuvuzela into her head. For that I can only apologise. It may only be a cheap piece of plastic tubing, but we’re still waiting to see if the damage is permanent.

If one could rewrite the past, three recent lessons learned are: not to blow so hard on a Vuvuzela six inches from a sensitive Cypriot-Colombian; the second is not go to Village East the night before an international flight. Thirdly, always check the mustard before serving.

For the modern man, this rather puts The Ten Commandments in the shade – to the point of being frivolous.