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Do people play football?
Of course not!

By Alidad Vassigh
May 28, 2002
The Iranian

I'm told by international press agencies that there is going to be some big football event soon, with a lot of people watching on television and generally being boring for a few weeks, or as long as the nonsense will last.

They call it the World Cup: world phoo phoo more like. What are civilised people -- all seven or eight of us -- to do during this period? If the rest of the barbaric masses on planet Earth could chip in with a few pennies, or rials or whatever [no Polish currency please], you could send us to a therapy centre in Barbados for a while. Or an Ashram or pleasure farm in Goa where we can bang our castanets and rebuild the Taj Mahal with bird droppings. We'll be thinking of you while you shout yourself hoarse because Upper Albania lost by three goals to the Republic of Congo-Shmongo.

Alternatively the United Nations could pay. Why not? They've got all that money to alleviate global poverty, which they've almost done, they assure me. So why not spare a little for Alidad to splash around in Marbella or Club Med Brazzaville [NO, not there] for a couple of weeks? I'm not a difficult person to please really, though I do like my strawberries organic [is there such a thing as organic fish? Setareh jun could you tell me, you seem to know a lot. Do stop fretting about the Palestinians though. Why can't they just play football, as Marie-Antoinette would say. Too violent, I suppose?].

I have to say I have never taken to sports really, particularly football where I find the racket awkward to handle. They made me play rugby at school even when it was raining in England. Nowadays I go for long vigorous walks around London and duly reward myself with a chocolate croissant, or egg-mayonnaise sandwich when dieting. Soon it will be tennis, though fish baiting, I'm told by close friends, is the thing now. Basically sit next to your goldfish bowl and play traditional Persian music until they "jive", as youngsters used to say under the last Czar. Apparently they do after a while. You could spend your afternoon doing that. It's better than drugs, whatever those may be.

Why, have you ever asked yourselves masses, do people play football? Of course not. You would be watching Dynasty instead. Or the Iranian version, Pedar-Salar, about a big old man who tries to keep all his sons and in-laws under the same roof, with explosive results. All the men in that have moustaches (moustaches are actually small chirpy aliens that have landed and stuck themselves onto Iranian men's faces in an inter-galactic/British plot to make them look stupid. Though they're actually world-class surgeons and engineers. You like this Hollywood? Hello, are you there?)

Those of you who have seen the Pedar-Salar saga will have loved it of course, as I did. Vintage Iranian inadvertent comedy-drama: full of angst-ridden Naneh-juns and Khanom-juns slapping the back of their hands because Aqa-jun was angry. It's amazing how we love a human story, whatever the setting, with or without moustache. It's better than football anyway, especially when you consider that soap operas don't provoke angry fans to rush out on a destructive rampage every week, smashing shop fronts because Alexis/Kobra Khanom pushed Krystle/Soghra Khanom into the swimming pool/gutter.

But you need exercise. Some of you will remind me sensibly, if you learned your humour from a German midwife. Or how about, "matches bring people together and they're fun", or worst of all, "don't be so negative", which is a tremendously discouraging thing to say to one trying to come out of his shell, as I am, and come to terms with his tumultuous past.

I would only say this. Regarding the Palestinians: I say, jun-eh ammatoon give them back their land, you genuine children of Israel who have been temporarily resident in Moscow and Budapest for the past 2,000 years [you certainly don't look like children]. Regarding football and the World Cup: I'm waiting for the United Nations to buy me a television before I make a mature judgement. Because one thing is clear from my articles so far, I don't make sweeping judgments nor am I dismissive, let alone frivolous.

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Alidad Vassigh

By Alidad Vassigh

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