We were supposed to cast off at 8am, or is that knitting? Might be getting my lingo muddled. Either way, the cargo operation wasn’t completed until the afternoon. The thought of setting out again into town and finding a working internet connection did cross my mind, but after yesterday’s three hour marathon fail, I had little intention of repeating the feat in the blazing sunshine with no way of knowing what time the ship will actually leave.
The engines kicked into life at about 4pm, but it wasn’t until about 45 minutes later that I realised we had actually left port – that’s how smooth the sea is around here, shielded by the Dhalek Islands. A more pressing concern was the loss of our television signal. The England v Germany was to start in 15 minutes. The crew tried their best to adjust the clapped out old satellite dish lashed to the gangway behind the mess, but it was ten minutes into the game before we got any picture – then, to add insult to injury, the picture kept conking out at critical moments of the game. I didn’t get to see Frank Lampard’s goal, but then neither did the linesman. Or the ref.
But I saw enough to see England get well and truly dumped out of the World Cup. Again.
When I was seven I remember going into school the day after Maradona’s Hand of God, absolutely distraught and refusing to finish my Panini sticker album as a result. When I was eleven I remember sitting on the stairs watching that excruciating penalty shoot-out against Germany from between the bars of the banister. When I was fifteen there wasn’t a World Cup (was there?). At nineteen I watched Beckham getting sent off and England crash out to Argentina at Ben Murray’s house. At twenty-three I was in a backpackers in Chile with Fleur as Brazil kicked England to one side. It was the middle of the night and just one other England fan watched the match with me. At the age of twenty-seven I was at the Roskilde festival in Denmark with Mandy and Stan and watched England lose it on the big screen, accompanied by thousands of braying Nordics.
And here I am at thirty-one and I’m still seeing England crash and burn, this time on a cargo ship off the coast of Eritrea. I wonder where I’ll be to watch England fail when I’m thirty-five… the moon would be nice – through the vacuum of space, I wouldn’t be able to hear the collective resigned groans of 50 million Brits echo around the world.
Oh well, I guess I won’t be the only Englishman leaving Africa today.