A Game of Football

What goes on in my head, on the screen, and in the living room simultaneously during a game of football? Something like this:

Come on boys, make us proud. Let’s win this battle. This is war.

Welcome to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul for the final match in Group E of the Euro 2008 qualifications between England and Turkey. This promises to be a riveting match as both teams need to earn points here to finish top of this group so as to qualify directly for the European Championships to be played this summer in Switzerland and Austria. Turkey need to win here and take all three points so as to avoid having to go through two play-off matches, while England only need a draw to secure their place at the top of the group. There’s been a tempestuous build-up to this match so far and I’m sure the players of both teams can feel the pressure tonight. And the players come on to the pitch…

There they go, the same colors, red and white. Today we’re red, they’re white. The one a red cross on a white flag, the other a white crescent on a red flag, like the armies of two empires – one leading the Christians, the other the Muslims – fighting an age-old war. There they go… our boys, keen, handsome, strong. Listen to that stadium roar! Like fucking lions! Welcome to Hell…

…who’s certainly a surprise inclusion to this squad. Nevertheless, I think England will once again be looking to Noel Fowler to make those incisive passes to Radcliffe and Hewitt up front, especially considering his impressive performance against Belarus in the last game. The Turks will probably play with a 4-4-2 formation so the English line-up seems to be no surprise for the Turkish coach. I see they’ve been doing their homework. In any case, I know I speak for all here when I say that I hope that no matter what the outcome of this match, sportsmanship and fair-play wins, and that we have a good, friendly, yet competitive 90 minutes ahead of us. Let’s not forget, it’s only a game!

Bullshit. War. That’s what it is. It’s a fucking war, and it’s us against them. Like the Dardanelles and Gallipoli, like Mesopotamia and Kut-el Amara, like Palestine, like the Suez, like the stand-off at Chanak, like the first match, like the other matches, like those hooligans we killed in the club matches, like the street fighting and the stabbings in the UEFA-cup final. It’s war. What friendship? It’s England versus Turkey. Whether they’re footballers or soldiers makes no difference. It’s the same thing. We’ve just brought war down to a manageable scale. Nobody dies – well not as many people die as in a war anyway. Everything’s contained on a pitch – except for the fights in the stands – in a stadium (except for the street fighting before and after the game), under the eyes of armed police and soldiers and organizations with self-important, white-haired, grey-suited old men, under the gaze of millions watching through cameras owned by companies making a fortune off these over-paid players and the ads that are pasted on their shirts and their socks and their shoes and the stupid commercials they “act” in with their stupid, pampered faces and vacant eyes. It’s a fucking war, and still there are those same fat cats profiting from it just like the fat cats that profit from any other war… only this time it’s the fat cats of sports firms rather than oil companies. So don’t give me this “friendly game” bullshit. Bring on the war.

And now the national anthems of the two countries will be played…

Listen to our fans whistling over their national anthem. “God Save the Queen,” it’s a nice anthem actually. That’s rude. We should at least respect our enemies, our “opponents.” What good is a war without respect? What good is winning if nobody respects you and admires and honors you for it? Still, they whistled us in England, we’ll whistle back. Sons of bitches. “Better a Paki than a Turk,” they chanted, those English pigs. Of course it’s better for them that the enemy be a Paki than a Turk. Did the Pakis fight back? The Pakis were conquered by them, they speak English now, they play cricket, they were loyal subjects. They didn’t dare take up a flag and face the English. They didn’t face them on the pitch and in the streets and in the war, head to head, hand to hand, foot to foot, bayonet to bayonet. Of course they don’t like Turks giving them a taste of their own medicine, hooligan versus hooligan, warrior versus warrior. Not pleasant is it? They’re not used to being punished when going to peoples’ countries and stumbling about like drunken louts and insulting them. Their pride was so hurt they took to comparing the Turks to Pakis - that is, to the worst race imaginable to the haughty Englishman: black, Muslim and conquered. And then they said we were even worse than that! How dare we niggers put up a fight?! Ha! It’s a compliment. We put a fright in them…

And that was certainly a cold welcome for the English from this capacity crowd. And now the Turkish anthem…

And there go our boys. God I wish they wouldn’t stick those microphones so close that you can hear their hoarse, atonal, off-key voices as the camera slowly passes before their line-up. They can’t even sing it all together. One guy’s two words behind, another’s a verse ahead. They sound like reindeer herders. Anthems are funny. I always wondered how it was that nobody ever just cracked up laughing whenever they heard one and actually understood the words. Strange that something of such bad taste can become so solemn and precious simply because of the ideological significance we give it. And they’re always about war, and defending the homeland, and guarding your women (your mothers, that is) and children, and protecting your flag against “the enemy.” And they play this shit before every game to claps and cheers and smiles and respect! And then they claim that football’s just a game, that it’s about friendliness and that it brings people and nations together. That’s funny… listen to ours, listen to what we sing just before this “game.” “The blood that is shed by my heroic race is shed for the sake of freedom for my God-fearing nation!” Actually, as far as anthems go, that’s pretty good. Yeah, ours is good, strong, martial, we have a great national anthem… Great, now let’s play a game!

Now they’re all shaking hands before the game. Our players are all so fucking short compared to the English. Really, footballing skill shouldn’t be the only criteria when forming the national team. Our players are representing our country. They should also pick the tall ones, the handsome ones, the fair-skinned ones. Look at them: small men with big heads, crooked noses, bushy eyebrows and short legs. These are the men people see over there in Europe. And nobody knows shit about our country, this is what they see. This and Midnight Express. How many fucking times have I heard it: “Have you seen Midnight Express?” No, motherfucker, I live in a cave, I haven’t seen it. These guys look like they could be prison guards in the movie. All they’re missing is broken Turkish with Armenian accents. I bet all my English friends are watching. I bet that girl Georgina’s watching too. I wonder what they think of these Turks. I wonder if they’re all thinking of me as they watch this game. C’MON TURKEY, HERE WE GO, IT’S KICKOFF TIME!

And the host team is ready to start the game. The referee signals to the respective goalkeepers, and the Turkish striker Hakan begins the first offensive play of the match.

God, here we go. My palms are already sweating. This is it. After months of expectation, the game is on. God I just hope we don’t lose. I hope we’re not humiliated. I hope that, no matter what, we finish proud. And more than anything, I hope we WIN! Let’s go boys, good, confident start…

Bulent passes it down to Ibrahim, he slips but manages to get up to evade the pressure being put on him by Radcliffe, he shifts play to the left wing, but Okan has lost possession and now it’s going to be an English counterattack as Pearce finds Woodruff, Woodruff is just outside the penalty area, and he’s brought down by Ibrahim just outside the penalty area. The referee dismisses the Turkish protests and this looks like a very good opportunity for England. Beckham loves it from this spot.

Fuck. Right from the beginning we’ve started to fuck up. Typical. Stupid little mistakes in our own half, mistakes the English or other Europeans never seem to make. I think we’re just fucking stupid is what it is. We’re stupid orientals, of slow wit and low intelligence. Why does Okan fucking keep the ball as he dives in amongst two opponents? Why doesn’t he pass? Emre is right beside him. No. We have to do the spectacular thing. Fucking typically oriental. All show and ostentation, no fucking substance. Here we go, Beckham doesn’t miss from here. We’re screwed. We’ll be down a goal, and it’s only the tenth minute.

And Beckham’s curving shot goes far wide of the left post as Turkey breath a sigh of relief…


“Hey turn the TV down!”

“WHAT? It’s Turkey versus England, ARE YOU CRAZY?”

“Who? Who’s playing?”

“England and Turkey.”

“WOW, oh come on Turkey… who’s winning? Is it an important match?”

“No one’s winning, it just started. Yes, it’s important.”

“Oh no, what if we lose? Oh God, what if we lose? I couldn’t bear it…”



“Relax mom, it’s just a foul.”


“It doesn’t matter, look I’ll tell you if there are any goals, don’t worry about it.”

“Good, ‘cause I can’t watch this. It’s wrecking my nerves. I feel stressed.”

“So do we mom, so do we.”

“So why do you watch it?”

“War is stressful, mom.”


“Nothing. Look mom, shut up, I can’t hear the game.”

“Okay, okay… God, come one, I hope we win…”

“We will, but don’t watch it, you’ll jinx us.”

“Really? Okay, I’m gone. WHAT WAS THAT?!”

“Nothing mom, the ball’s just out of play so it’s a throw-in. Come on, get out of here.”

Now the Turks are on a break from the right wing…

Here we go… YES, YES, YES, C’MON!

… there’s some precision passing from Serkan to Nihat…


...who gets past Agnew and centers the ball for Hakan whose header is flicked over the top bar by Dalgliesh…


Hakan can’t believe he came so close as he holds his head in his hands and shakes his head with disappointment…

“What happened, what happened? Did we lose? Is it over? Did they win? Oh, noooo…”

“No mom, we just missed a chance to score that’s all, don’t worry about it, I’ll tell you when you should worry and when you should be sad and when you should be happy, okay?”

“Okay, but let me know.”

“I will.”

“How come your dad’s so quiet?”

“You know how he gets when he’s nervous. He gets all quiet and pessimistic.”

The game’s produced some exciting scoring opportunities from both sides, though more from the English so far. It’s a real battle in the midfield as the more technical Turkish players take on the more physical English opposition…

“We’re going to lose.”

“Dad, not now…”

“I knew Hakan would miss that one.”

“Yes well, it’s easy to figure he will miss, the trick is to have faith that one of those shots will go in.”

“Well they won’t, they’ll all miss… that is, if we even have any more shots to miss. We probably won’t even have that.”

“Shut up Dad, you’ll jinx us too.”

“Hah! Then we’re definitely going to lose.”

Now there’s another wonderful through-ball by Fowler and Hewitt has got past Emre as he bears down on the Turkish goal. Ibrahim tries frantically to catch up, Rustu comes out of his goal, Hewitt chips it over the Turkish goalkeeper’s head as he makes a desperate lunge for the ball… and… GOAAAAAAL!


England one, Turkey nil!


“I told you we’d lose.”


Fuck, fuck, fuck. I knew we’d lose. We’re stupid. That’s it. We’re just too stupid to win. We’re not Europeans. Europeans don’t make mistakes. We make mistakes. Fucking idiots. I’m ashamed to be Turkish. Fuck, who cares anyway. It’s just a fucking game. So we lost. Who really cares? What matters is me. Nationalism’s a fucking disease anyway, and football is one of its symptoms. Fuck it. Who cares?

Now there’s only two minutes to go to half-time and the Turks seem to have overcome the shock of that goal and are now pressing forward for an equalizer before half-time. They’re doing some frantic work in midfield, especially thanks to Emre and Okan, and now Emre has displayed some wonderful skills to get past both Riesing and Agnew…

“Come on!”

…he now passes it down to Serkan on the left-wing, Serkan makes a powerful shot across the English goal…


…Dalgliesh makes a poorly timed foray from goal, the ball goes back and forth in the frantic melee, and… OH, HASAN GETS HIS FOOT ON IT AND THE BALL ROLLS INTO THE ENGLISH GOAL! AND THERE’S THE EQUALIZER!


“What, what? Did we lose? We lost didn’t we?”

“No mom, we scored!”

“So we’re winning!”

“No, we’ve just equalized…”

“So when did they score?”

“Five minutes ago, BUT WE SCORED NOW!”

“I didn’t hear you when they scored.”

“Of course not, you won’t hear me when they score. You’ll hear a deep silence. Next time listen out for deep silences…”

“But you were going to tell me. Now I feel cheated of happiness. The goal just brought the match where I already thought it was. I thought it already was even…”

“Look, forget it mom, just BE HAPPY, it’s good, okay? It’s the first goal we’ve ever scored against England.”


“Yes, ever.”

“Really? Are they that much better than us?”

“Mom, you’re jinxing us again…”

“Okay, okay, I’m out of here. God I hope we score one more, oh god, please…”

And the referee’s whistle signals half-time. That was a tough first half with a lot of scoring opportunities from both sides and two well-deserved goals from each team. The second half promises to be just as exciting. We can expect the war of attrition to continue in midfield as both teams look to secure their place in the finals of Euro 2008. We’ll be back after this break.

We’re going well now. We’re on a roll. Excellent, what a goal! Well, it wasn’t a great goal per se, but it was a goal nevertheless. I wonder if my friends are watching the game? They must be. Our players are good, they’re fast, they fight hard, they’re technical. It reflects on us: descendents of Trojans, that’s us. I wonder who saw the movie? Everyone must have seen it. I wonder if Anna, that German girl, saw it? She really liked me. The Trojans lost but they were brave and noble. And the guy who played Hector was a handsome, strong man. I wonder if anyone thought about me when they saw the movie? After all, it’s not like they know many Turks, if any. They must have thought about me. But then maybe nobody knows where it is. I mean, sure there was that map at the beginning, but who knows how to read maps anymore? Nobody knows geography or history for shit, let alone ancient shit. Everyone’s stupid. Education sucks these days. And why can’t we promote ourselves better? Then again, whenever the government promotes something it ends up turning that something into a gimmicky, cheap commodity. When they talk about our history it sounds like an automobile commercial. “Turkey, home to civilizations for 5000 years,” or some shit like that, like “Volkswagen, building cars for fifty years.” And then there’s those same old clichés no one ever tires of hearing, “Bridge between continents,” or “Where east meets west,” and all that crap. God, I wish there was a dignified way of letting people know, of educating them, rather than bombarding them with expensive advertisements and stupid pamphlets. Remember those pamphlets? Do people actually buy that shit? We fucking slaughter a whole nation of people and then we print out pamphlets where we continue to insult them by erasing their name from history. “Here’s a church,” and “here’s a mausoleum,” it’ll say, without ever mentioning a nation that lived before, with and among us for thousands of years. No sir, there are no Armenians, never were. The genocide continues. We wipe them off their land, and now we want to wipe them out of history! And then we deny the existence of Kurds that still live among us, but we scream genocide when the Bulgarians treat the Turks the same way in their own country. “The Bulgarians are committing genocide! The Turks in Bulgaria can’t use Turkish names, speak their language, be educated, read or write in their own language!” You don’t fucking say. What about those Kurds you call Mountain Turks then? Then they say “if we gave them their rights, then the integrity of the state would be jeopardized.” If the state can’t guarantee the most basic human rights to its own citizens then how could that state be worth defending anyway? Fucking sickening. The whole thing rots. The whole foundation stinks. But fuck it, we’re winning. Well, not winning, but we did score a goal, and we’re tied even now. England’s a good team. Maybe we’ll score another goal! Maybe we’ll win. We can do it. We’re a glorious nation. Remember Attila and Genghis, Tamerlane and Bayazed, Mehmet II and Suleyman, Ataturk. And Hector and the Trojans and the Hittites and the Urartians too… then again they weren’t Turks. But they were our ancestors, racially anyway. But if they were our ancestors, then we can’t be Turks. And yet we speak Turkish and we keep telling ourselves we come from Central Asia. So then how come we don’t look like those slant eyes? Fuck, I could never figure it out. I’ll just do what everyone else does and pick and choose what’s convenient. Intellectual mediocrity will be the price of an identity at peace with itself. Sometimes I think it’s worth it. Fuck I hate these commercials, when’s the match starting? Who the fuck would eat those burgers? Little obese fucks, that’s who eats them. Ronald McDonald… How could anyone eat food that’s endorsed by a clown? Oh, there’s that girl again. God she’s hot. I still don’t know what the commercial’s for, but fuck she’s hot. She looks like that ex of mine. Same eyes. She used to say the sexiest things, like… OH, HERE’S THE SECOND-HALF! Time to score baby, time to score…

And the two teams are making their way back on to the pitch. The Turks have made one substitution, Orhan has replaced the diminutive midfielder, Yildiray. Yildiray did seem to be having trouble out there with his ankle, something which certainly seemed to hamper him. No changes in the England squad however. It’ll be interesting to see how well they keep up the pressure and maintain that effective assistance from Beckham and Fowler in midfield to Radcliffe and Hewitt up front. The Turks will be wanting to keep the ball grounded considering the superiority of the English in the air…

“Here we go, another 45 minutes of torture.”

“Come on dad, DON’T JINX US!”

“Is it starting, oh, god, I hope we win, I can’t watch this, it’s killing me… what happens if we lose, what if…”

“Life goes on mom, DON’T JINX US EITHER, you can’t watch. Go away.”

“Okay, okay, I’m gone.”

And the visitors kick off the second half…

Come on, come on, come on boys, hang in there. God if only we could get one goal, just one. I’ll even be happy if we just don’t lose, if we can hold them off for 45 minutes. Jesus, the players are so tense, look at them. They’re all too afraid to go up front, they’re just passing it sideways or backwards. They’re terrified that they’ll lose. And so is my dad. He’s shrinking into a ball in his seat. His pessimism is his defense mechanism, keeps him from feeling the bitterness of disappointment. I bet he wishes he didn’t have to watch this, but he knows he does. I don’t know why, but he does. I guess he thinks “what if.” What if indeed, what if we DO win, what if we DO… Yes, Nihat, come on…

…now Nihat’s taken possession from Pearce in midfield and he’s found Okan up front, Okan skirts the edge of the English penalty area, he’s looking for someone to pass it to, or for an opening…

Come on Okan, yes, COME ON OKAN, YES...

“Come on…”

…and that’s some fine work, Okan’s in the penalty area, Hearse is on him, he shoots, and OH! MY WORD, WHAT A…



“See dad, you just have to have faith in the team, I told you we’d win this if it’s the last thing we do.”

“What happened, we scored, did we score? So what happens now, do we win? Is it over? Tell me it’s over.”

“It’s not over mom, there’s still more than half an hour…”

“Are we at least winning this time or is it still the same?”

“We’re ahead mom, we’re winning!”

That was certainly an amazing angle and an opportunity created out of very little to work with indeed, kudos to Okan. The fans have gone hysterical here. What an atmosphere, they’re going absolutely berserk…

LOOK AT THAT! All red and white, I love them, I love them all, YES, Turkey! That’s what it is to be a Turk. Fuck the lot of them. Don’t fuck with us. We’re fucking killers, conquerors, vanquishers, we’ll bury entire nations. Now they see our power. God, we’re on top of the world. Look at those players, laughing and pumping those fists in the air. Look at those flags waving, that stadium roaring, the music and the chants blaring, the English with their heads hanging… YES YES YES… The smell of victory, the smell of power, the smell of conquest…

That goal could seal it for the Turks if they’re careful, but it also seems to have spurred the English now and they’re really making some desperate attacks in the Turkish half. For the past ten minutes the Turks have rarely forayed outside their own half, content, it seems, to do some desperate defending to maintain this precious lead…

That’s right ‘cause we’re smart. Come on boys, hang in there, show them that Turkish defense, that stubborn… oh shit… no…

…Beckham to Hearse, Hearse gets a through-ball to Moynihan, Moynihan centers the ball, but there’s nobody there…

No, no, no, come on, just hold them off you idiots, don’t do anything stupid now. God, I just know we’re going to fuck up here, we always make stupid mistakes in the most crucial moments, fucking hell, come on…

…England maintain possession, Fowler now sidesteps Ibrahim, Emre bears down on him and hews him down, oh that’ll be a yellow card, and oh no, there’s a bit of a scuffle now as Fowler and Emre push and shove each other…

Typical, we’re always starting a fight, fighting with ourselves, fighting with the referee, fighting with the enemy, always the same, like a bunch of chimpanzees…

…now Hasan’s jumped in and needlessly added fuel to the fire, really, this is quite irresponsible behavior from the Turkish captain…

We’re just unsportsmanlike. Sports is an extension of war and politics for the Turks. That’s all it is. If there was a Turkish Clauswitz he’d say that war is an extension of politics, and that sports is an extension of war… When will we be civilized? When will we stop being slaves of our temperament? And, oh no, of course, I should have known, RED CARD!? YOU MORONS!

…And Hasan gets a red card for his pugnacity! Well I have to say that was a stupid move on his part. He’s left his team down to ten men at the most crucial part of the match, the Turkish coach must be furious, as must his friends…

I DON’T BELIEVE IT! How could he? YOU MORONS. Always the fucking same. Always a stupid move, always this unthought-out, irrational temperamentality. Fuck, Turks never change. Just when you think things are good, that we’re changing, that we’re getting better, there it is again, our stupid oriental fucking mediocrity coming through… At least we’re winning, come on, come on…

“Now we’re definitely going to lose…”



“What happened? Is it…”


“Oh no, I’m sorry, oh god, okay, I’m gone…”

Beckham and Fowler are both behind the ball now, just 25 meters from the Turkish goal. This could be a scoring opportunity for the English to tie this match and keep their hopes of direct contention alive for Euro 2008…

Shit. Here we go. Come on, you can hold on here boys, come on…

Aaand Beckham curves the ball in, and… OH, WHAT A HEADER, IT’S 2-2! Young Radcliffe scores his eighth goal in just twelve games for England. Oh, and the Turks are objecting that it was offside, they’ve surrounded the referee and they’re keeping up their objections…The Turkish fans are booing too, and now they’re throwing lighters and coins on to the pitch, what a sorry spectacle…

Fuck. Typical. We’re a bunch of fucking barbarians. Stupid fucking monkeys. Shameful. I hope none of my friends are watching this. Look at us, like a bunch of apes. Bad sportsmanship. How embarrassing. It sucks to be a Turk. It’s so humiliating to be associated with this. I’m not really Turkish anyway, I’m mostly Circassian. We’re different, us Circassians, not like these Turks. We’re tall and we’re lean and strong and we’re civilized, and tall…

Now Dalgliesh the English keeper has his head in his hands and has thrown himself on the ground. It looks like something thrown from the stands may have hit him. He’s looking at his hands for signs of blood. The referee has stopped the match and the stretcher-bearers are running on to the pitch…

Fucking embarrassing. And those fucking English are milking it for all it’s worth, holding his head and writhing around on the ground like a clown. Get up, you wanker. Fuck, if we can only hold on here. Ten men, 2-2, maybe we can pull it off. Come on. Show them that fighting spirit. But we’ll probably fuck up as always. We’ll probably concede a last minute goal as always, because we’re stupid and we’re undisciplined. Brains are wasted on us. We’re just big walking bags of hormones. They fall to the ground then they get up and start fighting and pushing and shoving, or they keep objecting to the ref, or they can’t control themselves and they do something stupid and get a red card. Typical.

The game is back on. We’re in the 65th minute as Robson puts the ball in play and England shift their attack to their right flank where Turgay’s keeping Leif under tight guard…Oh, that looks like a foul…Turgay objects, and there’s another flare up as Leif pushes Turgay who lashes back with a push of his own…



“Yeah Dad.”


“How many minutes left again?”


“Huh? What?”

“I said, how many minutes left in the game?”


“About 15 minutes left in it Dad.”

Well the Italian referee gives both players a yellow card each and we resume play with just under 15 minutes left in it. England seems content to keep possession and slow down play since this draw guarantees their qualification from the group. Turkey make another substitution, taking out Okan and bringing in the young striker, Cengiz who plays for Borussia Dortmund and was captain of their under-21 squad last year…

Good, good, come on.

“How’s the match? What’s happening? Are we winning?”

“It’s still tied mom.”

“Is that good?”

“No it’s bad, you’re jinxing us.”

Turkey are really scrambling up front but they’re producing few chances as the English defense is closing in well… Emre loses possession and now it’s an English counter-attack, Beckham’s looking for Radcliffe, but he’s offside, instead he finds the through-ball for Fowler, and…OH, FOWLER’S BROUGHT DOWN IN THE PENALTY AREA! And what’s the decision? The referee’s given a penalty! This would surely seal Turkey’s fate.

FUCK. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. I knew it, typical.

“That’s it.”

“Yes, Dad, that is it. You were right all along. Congratulations. Are you happy now?”

“I told you we wouldn’t win.”

“Of course, because you jinxed it.”

Beckham never misses, that’s it then. It’s over. I knew it. I knew we wouldn’t win. We fuck up under pressure. That’s why we’re not Europeans. We’re undisciplined and stupid. We’ll always lose…

Beckham goes for his shot…

3-2, we lose…



“That was lucky. There’s only 7 minutes left anyway.”

“Stop it Dad, I beg of you…”

Now Turkey are frantically looking for a possible goal here. They’re down to ten men but this is their last chance… Emre’s got the ball, he passes it on to Zafer, Zafer moves it forward, finds Nihat, Nihat gets right past Leigh, great footwork by Nihat, and he’s in the penalty area, and he shoots… Dalgliesh makes an amazing save, the ball falls in front of Hakan…


Hakan wastes no time, AND IT’S A GOAL… GOAAAAAAL, Turkey have gone up 3-2 with just minutes to go, what a performance by Nihat and what a great finish by Hakan!




“Yeah Dad, despite your jinxing!”

“We scored, we won? Did we win?”

“That’s right mom, despite your jinxing too!”

The stadium is absolutely ecstatic, it’s impossible to explain the atmosphere here, you have to see it for yourself. Now the Turks are the ones closing down into defense. The English are now frantically upping the attack and they’ll be looking to impose the advantage of having one man more than the Turks, not that being down to ten men has taken anything from the performance of this spirited Turkish side…

That’s right, spirited, how glorious we are, this hour of triumph, the battle is won. I wonder if all my friends are watching now. I wonder if Kate’s watching. And Glenn and Ryan and… What a great game. We came through in the end, against all odds. That’s the Turkish spirit for you, strong, resilient, resourceful, stubborn, never surrendering under pressure, never quitting. We sons of Turan, descendents of Ergenekon, we Trojans, we Turks. Still strong, still on our own two feet… I wonder if Anna’s watching. I wonder if she’s thinking of me as she’s watching. The first time in our history, defeating the English and scoring our first goals. The sky’s the limit. We might even make it all the way to the semis in the finals. And we have good, young, talented players coming up through the ranks. Wow, what a team. I really like our coach, he really is good. Good tactician, good motivator. Look at them play…

England aren’t making too much headway with just less than two minutes left in the game… they’re sending out long passes to Radcliffe and Hewitt which the Turks are intercepting with determined zeal…

The basketballers are playing in two days. Got to watch that too. And the economy’s much better as well. Sure we have a long way to go but we’re getting there. At least better than most other countries around us. I wouldn’t mind watching that film Gallipoli again, just to see the Turks kicking ass. I bet the Greeks are pissed off now too. Imagine the celebrations in Germany, in Istanbul, throughout Europe, millions of our brethren united in glory…

Beckham loses possession, but Pearce quickly reclaims the ball from Zafer, the Turks are trying to shut the English down and prevent them from building up any opportunities…the referee is checking his stopwatch and he could end this match any minute now…

Manzikert and Constantinople, Lepanto, Vienna, Malta, Plevna, Chaldiran, Mohacs, Belgrade, Kosovo, Gallipoli, Korea, the Seljuks, the Gokturks, the Ottomans, the Huns, the Golden Horde, Tamerlane, the Moghuls, the Safavids, the Avars, the Khazars, the Petchenegs, the Kumans, the Kirghiz, the Uzbeks, the Mamluks, the Uighurs, the Trojans, the Hittites, the Sumerians, Turks, Turks, Turks, come on… I could kiss the flag right now, I could kiss the flag, even though I don’t really like flags…

The referee has indicated 3 minutes of extra time, the English are pouring on the pressure, the Turks are holding firm…

And what’s with the Armenians and Greeks and Cypriots anyway? They’re our enemies, so fuck them. They got what was coming to them, really, when you think about it, right? Fuck that. Fuck them. We’re Turks and we’re proud of it. Why should they try and spoil it for us? They’re jealous of us, of our power, everything’s going to be great, people will look at us and think of our greatness…

“Look at those players, like soldiers, like janissaries, fort comme un Turq, cabrones guey, somos cabrones y conquistadores…”

“What’s that son?”

“Huh? Oh nothing, just mumbling to myself…”

I wonder if Emily’s watching? Fuck our enemies, maybe I should go out and celebrate, after I write an email to my mates in England, yeah, rub it in their faces, they’ll respect us after that, and that Rebecca’s a class act, I should call her, I think I have her number. Come on, blow your whistle ref, blow it off, I wonder if Rebecca’s watching…

Two minutes of extra time gone and the English have made some dangerous shots on goal, but all to no avail. The spectators have already started their celebrations, the entire stadium is jumping up and down, I can feel the ground beneath me shaking, the Turks are counting down the seconds…

I really never thought it would happen. Imagine if we conceded a last-second goal! Wow, what a tragedy that would be. Hah, by thinking about it I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen. I mean there’s less chance of something I say happening than that something I don’t say will happen, right? How often does the plane go down when you think if it will go down? Never. Yet how many times do things we never expect happen? All the time. So there it is, I’ll say it…

“Imagine if we concede a last second goal…”




The referee could end this match any second now, the English seem to have lost hope but are still pushing forward for a last-second miracle…

Oh, good, now it will NEVER happen. Çalsın sazlar oynasın kızlar, lay-la-lay-la lay la la… yavrum benim be…

And Bulent has slipped and let Radcliffe through and into the penalty area with literally seconds left in the game, that’s a crucial error from the experienced defender… the Turks are caught off guard by Radcliffe’s speed, he finds Hewitt to his right, their offside trap fails, Hewitt’s not offside, NOW HEWITT’S FACE TO FACE WITH RUSTU, HE SHOOTS…

Oh no…

AND HE SCOOOO… click, bleep.


“What happened, why did you turn it off?”

“Because we lost, mom.”

“Oh well, it’s only a game, right?”

Yeah, right.


A trip to the Flatusserie

Farting is fun, but we don’t always get the fart we want. Sometimes you think it’s going to be great, based on all the shifting and gurgling going on in your bowels, but then just when you think you’re ready for a loud vibrant resonating concerto for trombone in A-flat major, instead you end up with a squeaky little simper that seems to be saying “frrrrpt I need more fiber and tell your rectum to loosen up a little pssss.” Not good enough. It’s like you’re expecting the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th, but end up with a clarinet solo by Kenny G with a flat tire as chorus.

I have a feeling that in the future, as our level of degeneracy progresses on to yet more refined manifestations of sybarite decadence, we’re going to see specialty stores that will be geared to providing just the right style and texture of connoisseur farting that a demanding flatuphile might expect. They’ll have the right products to induce just the right kind of fart, and also samples of the kind of sound, smell, pitch and duration we’re all looking for in the perfect flatus. In fact a trip to such a store might go something like this:

“Ah, good morning sir, and welcome to Plopsidaisy.”

Thisppppriffffsplthtiiii… Ahhh, yes thank you, we just came to browse.”

“Of course sir, and if you don’t mind my saying, that was quite a splendid passing of wind you presented upon entering. In fact I noticed some of our other customers admiring it too. Hm, let me guess, is that some kind of beetroot-broccoli-bread combo? I believe we have those.”

“Close, just asparagus and bread with essence of lentils actually… My wife and I are interested in Depth and Duration. Where could we find the D&D department?”

“Of course sir, please prrrrrrrrrfpt follow me.”

“Ooh, egg and beer?”

“Yes sir, very kind of you to notice pps

“Good bouquet.”

“I agree, but the depth leaves a little to be desired thaaaaaspt

“That’s the problem with egg and beer, it’s certainly tangy sprrrrp, but I find it needs something yeasty to give the depth you need thhhhockspt”

“Right you are, sir, right you are. Ah, here we are, D&D. Let me just give you a general rundown of the products on offer; here we have the fruit and dairy combos for those particularly wet raspy results, over here we have your classic bean and sausage combo for depth, duration and that distinctly thick robust flavor that seeps into your clothes and lasts days… Ah, this is the garlic and cheese with seafood section, not to be recommended unless you have a good grasp of flatology and a significant degree of experience dealing with dairy-seafood combos in particular, here we have some condiments and side dishes: horse radish, Worcestershire sauce, milk, eggs, bran, oatmeal, etc. That should be enough to get you started. If you should need any assistance, my name is Ste-phhhhhhhhspotuprrrit-ahhh-ven.”

“Thank you, Steven, frrp. Hm, now, let’s see, what did you have in mind dear? PTHTHTH

PPPPPP, maybe something with beans? sffft

Grrrlopspoot, interesting ppp, bean and milk. That sounds pretty good pplock

Frpl-sptthhhh, yes but a little volatile and messy. Leaves too many skid marks.”

“Hm, you’re right. Oh, this looks phhhhhstfprp-aaaah new: buttermilk, chickpeas, and bacon! I’ve never had that before paaaaaaaa

“Now that looks like a good one. Perhaps we can get some of that for our little get together Friday night? pp

“Oh, I forgot about that, Shirley and Andrew are coming DOOTHPUTRISFUSTIFFFFFFFF right? I think that’s a good idea, something new, we’ll surprise them, beeeeeeeeekrp

“Goodness! Did you have a little snack before we left the house UUUUUUUSSS?”

“Guilty! I couldn’t resist when I saw the cheddar and garlic spread. I had to smear some all over the PLAFTIpppppppppeeeee leftover fish bashhhhhppr.”

“Oooo, potent! I think my eyes are watering… Ok, well, let’s ask the assistant for a sample. Excuse me! gurglop

“Ah, yes madam, yes sir, have you found something to your liking?”

“Yes, we’d like to have a sample of the buttermilk, chickpeas and bacon f

“But of course sir, please follow me to the gustation room… Here we go, please close the door behind you madam. Excuse me one moment, MATTHEW, CAN YOU TURN OFF THE VENTILATION PLEASE? Good, now… would you like some mushy bread thrown in?”

“Oh, I think we’re fine as it is. But can I get some baby food on the side?”

“Of course sir, what flavor?”

“Make it banana, thpff

“Oh, you already have some flatulation going I see sir?”

“Yes, I had a snack before I came spssss… between you me, I like to treat myself to a little when the missus ain’t looking hahahaha wink wink thpaflooooosportiiiiiii

“Goodness me sir, it sounded like you just farted the word ‘sporty’ hahaha… very good sir. Ok we’re ready, I’m going to pour the buttermilk in these gourds pssss, please watch out for the splash from the chunks of bacon and smaller droppings of chickpeas that will be falling out.”


“Oh, dear, please excuse me madam, let me just wipe that off your face… There. Now, sir, would you like first taste? frp

“Yep, bring it on, pass me the ladle fiiiiiiiiiiisprt

“Madam, now you. Ooo, don’t hold back madam, that’s what you have the bib for. Please feel free to read these magazines, or go through our brochure while you wait for the flatufication to kick in.”

“Ooo, I’m already feeling some rumblings down there”

“Oh yes, me too dear… This is good! This is very good!”

“Let me see that brand again… Hm, FC, very good ppp. It’s like I have a baby kicking inside my stomach, thhhhhhhhhhhplurt

“Yes sir, Flatucorp have been one of the prime contenders in the industry of late, gaining rapidly on Gasulicious Ltd., and the German company Pfitzer, sssspftz who are big in Europe pppppppp

“Yes, we’re big fans of their thockspffffff ‘Have A Sniff!’ ad campaign… o dear, I think… I think it’s coming… piiiiii

“Yes, I think this is going to be a good one wff... Steven quick pull my finger!”

“Very droll madam! I can see from the glazed look in your eyes that you are about to have a very pleasant one indeed. As for the FC products, well I can say that they always offer good depth, range, volume, and of course a particularly pungent redolance – in fact, this product promises flatuses that, I quote, “may measure up to 8.7 on a flatugram”, which is very rare indeed as far as…”