Last Sunday I had an identity crisis. I was in Berlin, in the Fan Mile, for the Italy v France World Cup final. The ‘Fanmeile’ was created for the tournament on a stretch of road running through the Tiergarten towards the Brandenburg Gate. Vast screens were set up every hundred yards or so: fans from all over the world congregated there for games. Along the side were makeshift bars and bratwurst stands. It was brilliant. I arrived with Johnny, a friend since Priory days in the 80’s, four hours before kick off. There were all sorts of international transvestites there. Americans wearing Germany shirts, Germans wearing England shirts, Japanese wearing France shirts. We were wearing Italy shirts: I lived in Italy for a bit and with an Italian in London for a bit, so I feel an affinity for the country, and wanted them to win. We found ourselves at the back of a large congregation of (real) Italians, and in front of an even larger group of (real) Frenchmen. The match started well, and ended uglily. The Italians won the penalty shoot-out. I got a vicarious kick. And then people started congratulating me. I got hugged by Italians, hand-shaken by Germans, slapped on the back by Japanese. I felt like an impostor. I felt terrible. I needed to get out of the place. And it led me to think: where am I from? Am I British? English? Geordie? Half Scottish? European? Lewesian? Does it matter? Do I need a cultural identity? I still don’t know the answer, and perhaps I never will. Enjoy the week.




Cover painting by Sheila Marlborough
Above: Nice peephole, but where is it?
Last week’s answer: Pells Pool (well done Liz Wildi)

 
 
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