Football. It’s a universal language – well except in the USA of course.
(What’s that? That other game they play with the pointy ball that isn’t rugby? American football. Doh.)
Anthro-man walks into a bar. In Zambia.
‘Hello, how are you?’
‘I am fine, how are you?’
That’s the ritual. Then curiosity bubbles up with the beer as the barman flips the top off a bottle of Mosi*. The beer with Victoria Falls on the label.
‘Where have you come from?’
Not as easily answered as you might think. Especially if you’re Anthro-man.
Born in the USA, like ‘the Boss’? A yellow rose of Texas? (Sorry, slipped into Wars of the Roses mode there.) The UK?
One word and you’re connected. The man you’re talking to (it’s mostly men) says, ‘Ah, Stevie G!’ – or something like that – and we say – ‘yeah, we live not far from him’. Or, ‘Jamie Carragher lives nearby’.
And so on.
We’re not footie fans. Anthro-man preps for a trim at the barber’s by skimming the news about Reds and Blues. We’ve learnt to call Blackpool the Tangerines and Oldham the Latics. I’ve schooled the man in iconic names like Accrington Stanley and Preston North End, Hamilton Academical and Queen of the South – and that’s as far as it goes.
But recently a new universal’s arisen.
‘When you think how much Rooney gets paid . . .’
Put any top player’s name in there, especially if they’re inclined to be a bit naughty. Or very naughty.
Zambian man-behind-the-bar makes the best observation I’ve ever, ever heard. The observation to end all observations, in my book.
Here it is.
‘In my father’s house I know where the candles are, I know where the matches are, I know where the chairs are.’
He wipes a glass with a tea towel.
‘If I am in the president of Zambia’s house, still I know my father’s house.’
‘If I am in the White House, in America, still I know my father’s house.’
He shakes his head.
‘These footballers – ah! They have forgotten their father’s house.’
*Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls