I think last week was a bad week – in fact, I know it was: I ran away. And the only thing that kept me sane was the last thing on earth I’d have expected – Germans.
I’ll say this, and paraphrase Rudyard Kipling’s poem If into the bargain: ‘if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and watch Germany thrash Brazil... You’ll be a man my son’.
And believe it or not, that pretty much happened to me. Of course, my passage to hope and freedom didn’t boast the best of starts – I’d run away to Dartmoor, which is hardly at the top of anyone’s wishlist when it comes cheering destinations, but hey, when you’re lost you’re lost.
Dark, forbidding and haunting, it’s not what I’d call a ‘Friday Feeling’ resort but more a River Styx-style amusement park.
Stupidly, I’d hoped the loneliness and desolation of my proximity to Dartmoor Prison might lighten my load but – and I wince here with embarrassment at my own, naive stupidity – all it did do, as you might expect, was compound it a hundred-fold.
Until, that is, I happened to switch on a television around 9pm last Tuesday evening and, lost in my own watertight world of gloom, witnessed something extraordinary, heavenly and every bit as rare as our creation...
People debate the Big Bang with awe but that doesn’t even come close to describing the tsunami of relief that slowly washed a wave of common sense and everyday normality across my firing synapses and neurons.
At 9.05, everything had seemed so grey and listless, but at 9.30, as I found myself caught up in the pantomime of this World Cup semi-final, I began suddenly to feel if not at least alive, sane again.
Indeed, by the end of the first half, Dartmoor, even in the watery twilight, didn’t look anywhere near so dark and threatening.
And by the end of the second half, I knew that for the first time in at least a week, I was actually going to sleep that night.
Considering I’ve never followed football or sworn an oath of loyalty to any team, it now seems extraordinary that I should have been so genuinely moved by this match.
So I guess I owe a lot to the Germans and Germany. Hansen seemed to believe it was primarily because of Brazil’s poor defence, but I think Germany deserved its victory and I for one would like to say... ‘Danke’.
You were there when I needed you most.