No, this isn't a Liberal Democrat party political broadcast (although if they asked me to do one, I wouldn't rule it out). I'm talking about staying in to watch the football…
This evening - at the ungodly (to many, but to me perfectly reasonable) time of eleven o'clock - is England's first game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. For me, conversation about the match has dominated the past few days; discussions about tactics, possible lineups, score predictions - and about viewing arrangements on the night. During rehearsals yesterday with one of the bands I work for, there was a keen debate about which pubs would be the best places to watch the game - there was even talk of watching it in one of the local nightclubs. Honestly? I can't think of anything worse.
Yes, watching the football down the pub is a typically British, typically blokey thing to do. I just fail to see any appeal. Is there any way in which watching the game in a pub is actually better than just watching at home? Let's see…
Yes, most pubs are going to be showing the match on a screen significantly bigger than my TV at home. Is this a good thing? No. At least, not when it will either be so high up on the wall that watching a full ninety minutes causes a permanently cricked neck for days afterwards, or positioned awkwardly behind a pillar, 'round the corner, past a group of exceedingly tall people who arrived early and positioned themselves inconsiderately close. My television is of a perfectly adequate size for viewing officiating disasters and Wayne Rooney's missed chances, thank you very much.
At home, I can sit on a comfortable sofa, with a clear view of my quite-big-enough television; I can see everything that's going on, and I can hear all the commentary and analysis (even if I sometimes wish I couldn't). I can have a drink or a snack without having to pay ridiculous amounts for the privilege, after queueing for twenty minutes (thus missing a large portion of the game) only to be told that the establishment's selection of whiskies is "Jack Daniels or Bells, mate."
I won't be in the lose-lose situation of having to choose between standing up all evening and enduring the agony of aching feet and having nowhere to put anything, or sitting on either a rickety and uncomfortable barstool with a partially obscured view or a marginally less rickety and uncomfortable chair with a totally obscured view.
Like it or not, the internet and social media have become a part of the way many people experience big global events - like a World Cup. Personally, I like it. I would much rather be at home where I know I have access to WiFi and charging sockets than in a pub fretting about intermittent 3G and dwindling phone battery.
This is the big one. People like going to the pub to watch the game because of the 'atmosphere' (whatever that means). To me, it means having to share an experience I ought to enjoy with a group of loutish strangers who get steadily more drunk and more rowdy as the night wears on, in a setting where every surface is sticky, the air is hot and humid with the fetid sweat of many men, and there is a lengthy queue for basic amenities like food, drinks and toilets.
Just because I enjoy football, it does not necessarily follow that I enjoy the company of hoards of lager-swilling "white van man" types in England shirts which stretch unedifyingly over their burgeoning beer guts, each convinced he is the biggest football expert in the room and determined to shout down anyone who thinks otherwise. Nor that I enjoy having to jostle for position just to see the lower left-hand corner of a TV screen which really needs the colour contrast adjusting; nor having beer spilt on my shoes; nor paying £3 for a packet of crisps; nor "banter".
No, I'm definitely going to stay at home to watch England - where I can actually relax and enjoy the game.