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So. What does it actually mean, to be proud of your nation, your country, your land? At a dinner party recently, a sad, serious Gerrman kid with a bit of a goatee said you couldn't really be proud of something you hadn't done yourself. That it was totally meaningless, to be proud of something which had nothing to do with you, to which you hadn't contributed.
"But you know Germany's the only country in the western world where Walmart wasn't that successful?" I said. "And it was because of those silly door people in silly costumes who greet the people who are entering the supermarket. Germans couldn't handle it, man, it did their heads in, being spoken to by a stranger. Doesn't that make you proud?"
"It doesn't make me proud," he answered. "It just makes me happy."
And I thought I had changed so much, you know. I thought 10 years of living in this country where sad, serious kids with goatees question the very concept of Nationalstolz at dinner parties had rubbed off a bit. But it hasn't. This World Cup I've been more old skool patriotic than George Orwell. At the England-Algeria game, my boyfriend told me that the night before the match, the Algerian team had psyched themselves up by watching The Battle of Algiers on DVD.
"What could the England team watch?" My boyfriend asked me. I breathed in sharply, I fairly filled my lungs with air.
"Any film from the whole entire 20th century, basically," I whispered back. "Except for Braveheart."
And now it's all over. I thought we were gonna do better than that, of course. Not because of passing or crossing or pressing techniques or holes in the German defence or any complicated stuff like that. I'm sure that kind of stuff is real important, but I don't actually think it makes that much of a difference. Nah. I was certain we were gonna win because the German press were being so negative about us whereas we were being kind of nice about them. Karma, you know. I believe in karma.
"We're gonna win, you know," I told my boyfriend. "It's fucking karma. We've got to win."
"Erm, Jacinta," my boyfriend said, blinking away like a polite newt. "I don't think karma counts in football."
He's changed his mind now, of course.