The on-going World Cup with its drama, heartache, ecstasy and agony can be a striking metaphor for the general sentiment in the UK at a time when the country, politically, is on very turbulent waters. As a keen observer of global events, it seems that Britain badly needs some glowing success in front of the world.
Well, the football team has already given the British public something to cheer about: a place in the semi-finals after 28 years!
It matters, a place in the semis may not be much for a lot of other teams, but for England, it’s a reaffirmation that they are not just a second-rate European side which had always been given to feel like a first-rate one, courtesy a gushing media.
With Brexit minister, David Davis and Foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, stepping down, in what the latter has called in his resignation letter: the dream is dying; suffocated by self-doubt, the entire Brexit movement seems to have received a rude jolt.
What seems to be the bone of contention?
Well, there have been countless reports about protracted Brexit talks ending in impasse plus negotiations with Europe not reflecting the desire of the people in the UK but the main problem appears to be that while Theresa May is willing to go for a softer Brexit with concessions, others want a clear-cut break up with EU in line with the mood of self- determination, which led to the victory of the leave campaigners.
Now the question is, can a clean secession possible or viable?
A recent report on vegetable and fruit production in the UK showed that most of the workers in the farms are from Romania. Only the manager is English and talking to journalists he said that once Brexit happens, the free flow of workers from Eastern Europe will face hurdles, which will eventually harm the overall production of the farm.
How about English workers?
The answer was not very clear but it seemed that locals were not willing to work as farm hands for 7.50 pounds an hour.
This is just one side of the Brexit related worries; countless people, who have been enjoying many privileges for being in the European Union will face some difficulty at one point or the other, as many experts have opined.
Whatever the case, the UK is in a precarious situation because, on one hand, there are politicians who are firmly for breaking away, whereas, there are those who want to retain connections, relations to ensure some facilities.
The talks have never been smooth and David Davis had simply said he found profound flaws in the current state of things.
Britain 1966 vs 2018
Again, all this drama is taking place during the greatest and most watched spectacle in the world – the football World Cup.
Obviously, when England move to the semi-finals, inspiring memories of 1966, the only time when they won the cup, come into the discussion with renewed zeal.
Just after England’s impressive win over Sweden, that spirit of 1966 saw a revival. The red Jerseys of 2018 compared to the shirts of 66, also red, and plenty of other equations, some absolutely absurd, brought into consideration.
The whole of England actually went into unrestrained celebration after the first victory over Tunisia.
Some papers even wrote that the euphoria was a bit too much for a group stage win over one of the lowest ranked teams of the tournament.
But people went wild! They needed something to cheer about, an event to go into party mode and hit the pubs for some drinks.
They needed something to relegate the Brexit blues!
This in itself is indicative of a nation which desperately wants some positive news.
Go back to 1966 when England was in a buoyant mood, socially and politically.
The sixties psychedelic flamboyance had triggered a wave of revolution among the youth who discarded centuries of uptight values to embrace free love, rock and roll and eccentricity.
This was a period of breaking down the orthodox and letting in the radical.
Staid was out, exuberance was in!
On the big screens, 007 was ruling and cold war paranoia was relentlessly presented through deliciously entertaining TV programmes like The Saint, The Avengers and Secret Agent.
Britain was spearheading a counterculture rebellion and the inexorable force of the young injected an elixir into the football team.
Come back to 2018 and we see a revolution too, but more like a rebellion within the political system.
Once more, it’s the young who seem to be providing the impetus to the football team playing in Russia.
If I am not mistaken, there is a collective desire to put aside the Brexit affliction plus the Novichok headache and hit the headlines for something outstanding.
May and Britain need the cup, badly
Tonight, England is facing Croatia and if the three lions make it to the finals then all the ballyhoo over the recent resignations will be forgotten.
If they lose, there will be another chance to redeem their pride by facing Russia for the third place spot. And believe me, with the Novichok controversy overshadowing relations between two countries that will be the match of all matches. Whoever wins will have the last laugh. On the field and certainly on the political dais. But that’s still some time away!
And, if England go on to win the Cup? I can envisage all sorts of punchy headings: Moscow mule is a Brit, From Russia with the Cup or maybe, Fry me a frog in Moscow!
All around, Britain’s exhortation to the players is ‘It’s coming home’ but for Theresa May and her government, it’s possibly, 'For God’s sake, bring it home!'
Towheed Feroze is a News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.