I have a problem at work and I wonder whether you can offer me some advice. It's regarding the screening of England's World Cup match this afternoon. The thing is, I'm not really very interested.
I mean, it'd be nice to think England might progress a bit further in the competition, what with us having invented the game in the first place. But if we get kicked out, well, it'd be no great loss to me. Last time England played I went shopping, and the time before that I went out for a walk. I don't feel a fervent passion welling up within every time Rooney pulls on an England jersey. I don't yell swear words at the TV every time one of our players hits the woodwork. My summer won't end the day we lose at penalties. Trouble is, the rest of my work colleagues don't see things that way.
This afternoon at three o'clock, my England football apathy will be laid bare. Many offices are forcing their employees to work through the big deciding match, but not mine. They're setting up a big screen in the canteen so that anyone who wants to watch can do so, and inviting them to make up their hours some other time. There won't even be a bar to make the waiting bearable, just a lot of smart-casual blokes from accounts getting over-excited and cheering a lot. Me, I'd rather work straight through and go home on time while the trains are empty. Thank goodness attendance isn't mandatory.
But I'm not working in the office today. I'm being sent far out of town to take part in some important work-related event, evidently scheduled by somebody who wasn't thinking carefully about the date. It's a full nine-to-five day, with a set number of tasks to get through, and we can't leave until they're finished. There are four of us taking part, only two of whom are fervent footie fans. More to the point, one of those two fervent footie fans is my boss. My boss wants to break off from the task in hand at three o'clock to watch the match, then come back afterwards to carry on working until seven! His priorities are very different to mine.
What's more, my boss thinks I'm a big football supporter too. I'm quite good at knowing just enough about the team's matches and scores to make it sound like I know what I'm talking about, and I nod and smile and agree with him at all the right moments. But he's always referring to specific players and selection rumours and specialist stuff, about which I know very little, and I genuinely can't believe he hasn't noticed my lack of knowledgeable depth. Today, I fear I'll get caught out.
I could confess. I could admit to not being as interested in the national game as England expects. I could pair up with the fourth attendee, whose footballing passion is non-existent, and see if we can get our half of the work done by the final whistle. Or I could capitulate. Go watch the match in good grace, and try to get into the spirit of the event. Let the other two power the conversation, and interject occasionally with something appropriately up/downbeat. Two hours of my life I'll never get back, but what the hell, this is a nationally important event.
Any advice gratefully received. And hurry up, because I can't hide my indifference forever.
DG replies: Sorry, this is not a situation I can identify with. At all. Obviously. But I'm sure you'll work out something, you miserable apathetic killjoy.