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.