England have already won the world cup in South Africa, according to footballing experts in Fleet Street. The only questions that need resolving now, according to insiders, concern which players become national treasures, and which become disgraced alcoholics.
Fleet Street's preparations have been so thorugh, they're even prepared for a 'reverse ferret' manouevre in the unthinkable event of England failing, which could see emergency 'I told you so' columns being hastily produced, by the very same jingoists currently fanning the flames of pop[ular delusion.
With two months of heavy drinking and wife beating, condemnation of rioting England fans and occasional lofty editorialising to do, England's football writers have a busy time ahead of them. So, wisely, they've already pre-written their most of their stories.
According to Fleet Street consensus, England's progress to the finals of the world cup is already assured and the script is largely written. Only the details of goal times, and final scores need to be finalised. An early victory over a minor country will see record levels of self deception being achieved across all parts of the nation.
Accordng to Fleet Street's finest, England are expected to beat Germany in the final, although it could be Spain or even Brazil. The presence of none of these teams holds much of a threat to modern English newspaper production staff, who can easily tweak copy a headline to fit in seconds.
But it's the follow up stories that could prove more challenging. 'Nobody knows which players will be national treasures, which will be fallen heroes, and which will be national disgraces,' said one Fleet Street editor. 'Still, that's what makes journalism so challenging. You never know who you're going to be making up quotes about next.'
When it comes to thinking on their feet, Britain's newspaper professionals are the envy of the world. They are ready for absolutely anything. Imagine if, for example, England crash out of the world cup in the early stages. It's as unthinkable as the Titanic being marked out of the game by an iceberg, or America gaining independence. But, such is the discipline of the modern newspaperman, Fleet Street could cope.
Matthew Norman of The Evening Standard, for example, could be relied upon for an 'I told you so' piece, displaying his usual in depth understanding of a sport he has obviously bnever played. As indeed could every jingoistic hack, currently predicting an England victory. School playing fields would be mentioned. And the poverty of the national diet. 'There's a massive stock of cliches available, should a period of finger pointing be called for,' said a columnist.
[YES, OK, IT NEEDS TIDYING UP, BUT I'M GOING TO BED INSTEAD.]