As we dejectedly pull the fizzled flare from our arses and begin to regret that we trashed our own capital city for no reason this time, the last thing we want to hear at this moment of national mourning is music. We can’t face ‘Three Lions’ again yet, not least because we’re too hungover to work out how many years of hurt we’ll be up to by Qatar 2022. ‘Seven Nation Army’ just feels like it’s mocking the nation over its total ignorance of any of the words. We have no more spirit to “bum-bum-buuuum” along to ‘Sweet Caroline’ than we have to tidy up after ourselves or apologise to the staff of Bella Italia.
But let’s face some stark cold facts. Firstly, if football ever did come home, it would be well into its 50s, and would have lived a long and storied life of excitement and adventure across the world, wouldn’t recognise us anymore and would fail to get settled status before it got deported back to its adopted home of Winsonpenaltiesland. And secondly, it’s at times like this that music is the source of national pride we should be looking to for comfort, solace and hope.
Losing a major tournament final is a bit like losing a favourite gerbil (I imagine – I’m not particular bothered about football; certainly not to the degree that I’d feed it properly). So over the coming days we’ll be experiencing those same stages of grief which music is there to assuage: shock, pain, anger, depression, struggling to flush it down the toilet, acceptance and finally recovery. So within one well-curated playlist we should be able to hit rock bottom, navigate the doldrums and be shooting fireworks from our rectums in anticipation of the World Cup by Wednesday lunchtime.
Step one: primal scream therapy. We’ve all got 55 years of frustration to unleash before we could even bear the thought of lobbing another full glass pint in the air in a crowded room, so let’s let it all out with one nationwide listen to Bring Me The Horizon’s 2013 metalcore classic ‘Sempiternal’. We should be petitioning all major radio stations to play it simultaneously, in full, at noon. It’ll certainly have more of a cathartic effect than all the knee-booing morons sending racist messages to Bukayo Saka, as if he’s the source of national shame in that scenario.
Our shock, pain and anger all dealt with in 45 minutes of hardcore screaming about ketamine, we should be on to desolate depression by mid-afternoon. It’s an area of rich pickings – just shout “Alexa, play Spiritualized” and you’ll barely have to peek outside your duvet for a couple of days – but the most constructive period we can look to is the year or two before the 1966 World Cup win. Whack on The Beatles’ ‘I’m A Loser’, The Stones’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ or The Kinks’ ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’ and find comfort in the fact that the nation felt equally despondent so soon before Geoff Hurst hammered his hat-trick home.
At this stage, we’re ready to come to terms with our situation. Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ or Propellerheads’ ‘History Repeating’ have the attitude of stoic resignation we’ll need to start looking on whatever bright sides we can find. At least the Trafalgar Square fountains haven’t been turned into a gigantic petri dish for a waterborne anal Delta variant. And there’s no chance now of the entire Tory cabinet trying to make us forget what a shower of aide-frotting incompetents they’ve been for the past 16 months by making out that they put a couple past Donnarumma themselves.
And finally: hope. At the end of the day it’s a funny old game of two halves that we take one match at a time and gave 110 per cent Brian, and we’ve definitely got a team that likes to play football. A young, talented and progressive team took England down to the very last kick in the best performance in an international tournament most of us have seen in our lifetimes. While it might not feel right just yet to start humming “it’s coming home” when anyone mentions Qatar, we can certainly adopt the wishful-thinking tone of ‘Champagne Supernova’.
And another official World Cup anthem strikes exactly the right note of determination and fortitude we should be taking into 2022. Let’s revisit the golden age of leather on tight perm and re-adopt the 1982 squad’s ‘This Time We’ll Get It Right’ as our new footballing anthem. Even if Scottish readers, for whom normal relatable service resumes next week, might balk at the line “hear the roar of the red, white and blue…”