So it turns out that this international footballing contest is still on and somehow England's national squad have blundered their way through to the quarter-finals, which to be fair is further than I expected. I can't watch the matches though - every World Cup the game seems to get a little less Jules Rimet and a little more Charlie Chaplin. There appears to be a new rule whereby if an opponent gets within 10 yards of you, you have to throw yourself at the ground and roll around apparently in agony until the referee ignores you* at which point you get up and run after the ball again. It's only a matter of time before players are carrying ladders over their shoulders and swinging them around knocking other players over with hilarious consiquences. And throwing buckets of glitter all over each other. And driving onto the pitch in a funny little car that falls to pieces. And juggling with the half-time oranges.
(* - this year the refs have been doing a lot less "ignoring" and a lot more "falling for it")
Still, I've found it hard to ignore the World Cup so far as I've had a week off work and spent almost all of it in a pub in Ealing, a place where every pub has a dozen TVs and a thousand cheering and jeering football fans per telly, most of whom never watch the game for the other 3 years and 11 months between World Cups.
For one glorious day, however, last Saturday I was able to spend an entire day without so much as a smigeon of football - for I spent the day in Hyde Park with 84999 other people, watching the Foo Fighters
, Queens of the Stone Age
, Juliette and the Licks
and *cough*Angels and Airwaves
And what a day. I don't know if you've ever seen 85000 people in the same field, queueing for the same bar, using the same urinal etc, but it's a lot of people. And (although I ordinarily tend to avoid crowds of 85000 people the same way I avoid rabid, rampaging bulls with machine guns) everyone was there for the same purpose, the weather was fantastic and the atmosphere was brilliant. Foo Fighters performed a wonderful set, although it seemed very short - that may have been because I was having such a good time. And it was great to see Queen's Roger Taylor and Brian May come on to play for the encore. Queens of the Stone Age were a little disappointing - there appeared to be something wrong with the sound for their set. Still good to see them though.
Juliette and the Licks were a pleasant surprise - I'd put Juliette Lewis down as another singer-wannabe actress using her movie success to progress her career, but to be honest, these guys have played every crappy dive in the US and Europe (and probably further afield too) and you have to admire them for that. But moreso, they were really good, and Juliette was obviously having the time of her life up there. Motorhead were, well to be fair they were Motorhead through and through. My mate and I were just jumping up and down screaming "It's only fucking LEMMY!" and being massively amused at the fact that although they played 10 songs that sounded identical to Ace of Spades, the crowd ignored almost every other track.
Angels and Airwaves... well... I'm not sure what they were doing on the bill at all. I'm a bit of a Blink 182 fan to be honest, so I was secretly pleased that Tom Delongue was going to be there - but I'm sorry, he's obviously not the songwriter in Blink 182. It was boring, self-indulgent and I didn't enjoy it at all - even less so Tom's US-style pep-talk that we could all do what we wanted in life and the sky is the limit. Yes, thanks Tom, I'm well aware of that. Now get on with it. A huge cheer went up when they announced the last song would be their last, and amusingly Tom looked rather pleased with himself, evidently failing to spot the irony in the cheer.
Angels and Airwaves aside though, it was a great afternoon/evening and well worth the effort. And hats-off to the organisers too - despite there being 85000 people there, the inevitable queues and crushes were handled with military efficiency. Of course, with 85000 people each paying 35 quid to be there they could afford to throw money at the problem.
And a week later - I've just about recovered.