We laughed, agreed it was ridiculous, and then I was saying that even if we did win, it might emphasise feelings of solidarity and community, mutual assistance, rather than boosting conservative feeling, and people were saying I was over-optimistic. After a few moments I realised we had heard his comment, and yet we were still doing it. We were still talking as if winning the World Cup were the most likely outcome, and all that was up for discussion was what impact this would have on our national life. Madness.
For any country, for the best football team in the world, the chances of winning the world cup must be touch and go. So many things will go wrong. And yet every four years (and I am by no means atypical) I deliberately commit myself emotionally to this utterly quixotic and doomed enterprise. I do not regret it.