Juliette Bains: Spare a thought for our social lives during football frenzy

The World Cup trophy.

The World Cup trophy.

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HERE we go again.

Four years have apparently sped by already and once again we find our social lives in the grip of a terrifying force of sporting nature.

Plans that would normally be the simplest to arrange are suddenly thrown into turmoil, hinging on the schedule of an event taking place thousands of miles away and in a completely different time zone.

Yep, The World Cup has reared its shiny, gold head once more.

As you can tell I’m not the biggest fan – but before some of you roll your eyes, let me explain – it’s not the football that gets on my nerves.

In fairness, I’ve had a season ticket for my local team before and have been to my fair share of matches over the years.

So it’s not the sport that frustrates me – it’s the impact I know it’s inevitably going to have on my everyday life.

Firstly, you can bet your bottom dollar that the F word will dominate most of the conversations you have for the next month or so, no matter where you go.

It’s not just the die-hard football fans who regularly bore you to tears either.

Your neighbours, aunts and even complete strangers all become desperate to have their say, leaving you no conversational refuge if you just want to talk about work, the weather or the amusing thing your cat did last night.

I’m at pains to remain in a state of blissful ignorance about the World Cup but I’ve become increasingly aware that I’m in the minority there.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about an upcoming match and, frustratingly, they all think other people want to hear it. When the tournament does crop up in conversation, my plan is to politely feign an interest, nod along for a couple of minutes and then try to change the subject.

I thought work might be a bit of a refuge, the usual World Cup sweepstakes aside (I drew England, so the less said about that the better).

But unfortunately there’s no escape even at my desk and my carefully plotted conversational safeguards are not enough, as it seems football is taking over the newsroom in another, more unexpected way.

A craze that’s aimed at children, and is something I remember from my primary school days, has taken hold of my colleagues like a virulent and expensive strain of the plague.

Men and women of all ages have become hooked on the latest fad – the sticker book.

Covert ‘swapsies’ are being done on the sly, whispers are going round as to who has got the most ‘shinies’, whilst grown men are buying entire boxes of the stickers in a bid to fill their book the fastest.

The excitement is palpable at times and to be honest it’s starting to worry me.

World Cup side-effects are also seeing social plans being scuppered on a regular basis.

Floating any ideas around about going for dinner or to the cinema spark frantic cross-referencing with the fixture list, just in case it clashes with Cameroon’s first game or something.

A friend’s birthday falls unluckily on Saturday – the night of the first England match (in case you haven’t heard).

Obviously, this is a recurring theme for her, but this year she’s decided to put her foot down and not let it dictate her plans.

Despite uproar from friends and peer pressure to host a World Cup party, the birthday girl has stood her ground and is going out instead.

Only time will tell if people will be willing to leave the football behind for their friends.

I suppose the World Cup comes round just once every four years, which means it’s ages until I have to go through this again.

But that’s what I said last time.

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