ONCE you’ve wandered into weird “Worldcupworld”, time quickly loses meaning beyond the essentials - 3pm kick-off, 6pm, 9pm.
When exactly does the night before blearily become the morning after?
It gets just too tricky to tell.
Is the day finally done, when fans still in the parks stop re-enacting the latest winning goal – and start crumpling into lumpen human heaps?
Maybe as you fail to focus on the pre-dawn timetables, cursing all the booked-up hotel rooms this side of the Luxembourg border?
Or when, stationed in the station, the blues and reds of tonight at nine start merging with the greens, whites or whatevers of tomorrow at three?
More likely yet, yellow everywhere you look – a mustard fug blending Brazilian and Australian, Swedish, Ecuadorian and Togan, back always to Brazil?
Perhaps it’s when the chants start to change, new melodies replacing the raucous choruses of tonight’s winners and the rueful defiance of the losers.
If it’s Thursday, if it’s Friday, it must be… who?
“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – oy, oy, oy”…?
“Hop, Schweess! Hop, Schweess!”…?
Or, of course, “Ing-er-lund, Ing-er-lund, Ing-er-LUND”…?
Perhaps instead the hosts, gradually growing in assurance as they insist: “Wir fahren, wir fahren, wir fahren nach Berlin”…?
Or can you tell the time, by scanning the students signed up as dogsbody stadium volunteers…?
All the night long, you’ll see those recently-fresh faces now turned grey and drained – their sky-blue uniforms navy-stained by sweat.
Yet through the opposite station doors, the next bright-eyed batch arrives - in impeccably-pressed, soon-to-be-sodden shirts, and dreaming of meeting Beckham.
Maybe tomorrow becomes today, when the patient café-mistress brews her first fresh pot then toe-taps alive again all those under her tables?
Or when the impatient, passing Polizei take a more direct approach, ordering all awake and out of each waiting room – come on, come on, raus, raus…?
After all, there’ll be plenty of time in this life to sleep - once the football’s finished, the final’s final whistle blown.
(Or if you must – catch a quick nap, when the French next kick off...)