It’s All Over

John Lanchester

Small boys of all ages and both genders look forward to World Cups. Perhaps nobody, though, looks forward to it more than actual small boys. I’ve been looking forward to them ever since my first, in 1970 – the best, I still think. The thing I remember almost as well as the drama and excitement of the football was my incredulous horror at the thought that I would be 12 before this thing came round again. How could it possibly be four years until the next one? Not even adults, surely, could be so recklessly stupid as to make everybody wait four years for the next example of something so wonderful? Four years: that was literally for ever. I remember running through the years of future World Cups in my head: 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990; the sequence stretched into the inconceivably far distance. It was great to have something to look forward to, but did it have to be the case that you had to look forward so far?

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