Engerlund (part 1)
In a parallel universe, remarkably like our own but definitely not this one…
Pete Jones isn’t happy. The purple veins that plot a course across his ruddy cheeks and meet in a criss-cross on his bulbous nose are throbbing more than usual.
‘What the guffin’ hell is this?’ Pete slams the early morning copy on the editorial room table. ‘I get you lot, the supposed cream of journalistic talent, to get the dirt on the England team and the best you can do is repeat the ramblings of a carrot-topped old fart. Its not even exclusive, you copied your homework from the internet like a bunch of lazy school kids.’
‘Yeah Pete, the guys know its guff.’ Dan Broadbent, ever the one to push himself ahead of his colleagues, always ready to admit that the team had failed but cleverly distancing himself from the blame, Dan the dagger Broadbent turned his thin, pock-marked, sallow, nicotine addicted face to survey the assembled journos.
‘All the guys sources disappeared when the season finished, packing in holidays before the fun really starts. Even Titternot’s been quiet.’
Pete cut him short. ‘I don’t give a guff about Titternot, or a blog on a third-rate betting site. I want dirt. The World Cup is about to start and we don’t have a single column inch of good honest dirt. I want stories that will suck the life out of this team. The only thing they are going to bring back from Brazil is the misery we are going to heap on them. Understood? Ideas…’
The room erupts into a dozen separate plotting conversations. A lone voice tries to penetrate the din.
Jay Molsen twitches nervously. None of this seemed right. He was sure his Dad, the owner of the Daily Bugle, would not like this one bit. Granted Jay was on work experience, had only been in the job a week and to date had only been required to get the coffee orders right, which he often didn’t, but there was a principle to consider here. One day, he would be the owner of this paper (he hoped), it was his duty to say something.
’S’alright Jay, we’ll do coffees later.’
‘Pete, I was just wondering, shouldn’t we be supporting the England team?’
A collective intake of breath is followed by sniggers right and left, Dan snorts coffee onto his notebook. Pete Jones releases his yellowing fangs into to sickly grin.
‘Because you’re Pavel’s son I’ll cut you some slack. Let me explain: This is the paper business. We write the news that people want to read. We sell papers. This isn’t one of those giveaway ad-rags. We make money here. If we start backing the England team to do well we won’t sell enough to break even. Print pictures of half naked girls in nightclubs next to pictures of the potatoe-headed twat asleep on the plane. Conclusion: Twazzer was up all night before the first match. Put an article about the rising problem of Altzheimers next to a picture of the manager. Conclusion: he’s gone senile. Now that is how to prepare for a World Cup. Then when we get dumped in the quarter finals, or better at the group stage, we say told you so. You heard it here first in The Bugle, the voice of the nation.’
‘Now get us a guffin’ cappuccino with extra shots.’
Meanwhile, at the England training camp…
‘If Twazzer covers the left wi’ Dwiz and Gramps comin’ up behind we can bring Bazzer and Leekie over and put Fozzer in the hole.’
Despite the over abundance of scouse the team talk seemed to be going well. Readie, the new name in the squad is watching and learning. He hasn’t really done scouse before but he thinks he’ll get the hang of it in time for Manaus.
Meanwhile, on another training pitch somewhere else in Brazil…
‘The Ingelsi don’t do the long ball anymore. What are we going to do about this? I tell you what we do: we shut up a the shop, we bide our time until the ref, he indicate the extra minuto; then Paulo, you knock-a the long ball to Mario, then Mario, you fall in the box. It’s a penalty, it is our destiny…’
Meanwhile in a TV studio on the Copacabana…
‘It’s pretty clear to me, and I don’t know about you Lefty, but it’s pretty clear to me that those girls know their way round a beach volleyball court. There’s one wearing three lions over there, two up and one down so to speak. My mum’s Croatian. They don’t have kit like that in Croatia. Brazil play Croatia tonight – what do you think Roy?…’
Meanwhile on a sofa in Balham…
‘Not tonight love, footies on.’
…And so another World Cup begins.
[part 2 coming soon]