Tag: Pro Tips!

Night-Walking Pro Tips!

(the not-very-long awaited!)

As someone who bumbles around London well after the sun has pissed off to the safety of its flat, presumably up near the Waitrose on Holloway Road because the sun can’t really afford a more central property but hails from the sort of family where shopping at Waitrose is considered the norm, I’m quite good at not being murdered while doing it. So I’d like to give you some advice on walking in cities at night, advice that is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but may actually be useful. Blimey, I’m doing proper advice now.

1) Use headphones to your advantage

If you’re nervous about walking around, don’t wear over-ear headphones, the big clunky ones that cover your whole ears and can’t be worn under a hood. This flags up to potential murderers that you’re likely to be deprived of a sense (sound, which is critical for locating and assessing threats outside of your field of vision), and also affluent enough to afford a stupidly overpriced set of Beats. Conversely, you could use them as a kind of creepy bastard-radar, muting your music to give the impression of idiocy and vulnerability, whereas in reality you’re primed to leg it if that guy who looks like he’s been tailing you for a block makes a move. Although the latter use is generally for ballsy motherfrakkers, so I’d not encourage it.

2) Stick to main roads

This sounds obvious, but light tends to be safer than darkness, and main roads are generally more secure than even cute little residential areas that look harmless during the day. There’s a secondary point here too, that you ought to be confident wherever you walk: attackers tend to lurk in shadows, and so you sticking to them may make yourself vulnerable and make it difficult for a friendly passerby to see you’re in trouble, as opposed to unseen and safe; if you’re stomping up Camden Road in Doc Martens, people are more likely to think you know what you’re doing with yourself, and may avoid you.

3) Dress like a peasant

This may sound like a bit of a contradiction at first – how can I be confident and self-assured if I’m not wearing my favourite jacket?! – but it makes sense; your favourite jacket, while empowering, is encrusted with gold and woven with unicorn pubes, and is a beacon of foolish wealth much like an expensive set of headphones. Generally, dark, baggy attire will help create an aura of ‘I’m angry, young and poor, don’t piss me off’-edness and can disguise your frame if you’re not a particularly well-built individual. Also, this isn’t to moronically de-gender your outfits – everyone knows that wearing a dress doesn’t actually make a person more likely to encounter trouble – as the emphasis is on appearing nondescript and independent, rather than masculine or feminine.

4) Know where you’re going

Getting lost and going for a wander can be marvellous, especially in a fun place and/or with fun people. Just don’t do it at night. I like to march up a main road, then straight back down it again, ensuring I make note or tell others of where I’m heading.

5) Bring a friend

This is the biggest one, and rather covers all the other tips by itself: if you’re with someone, headphones are a non-factor as you’re chatting; you don’t need to make an effort to appear confident as two people have inherently more presence than one; a bodyguard or police-caller is infinitely more effective as a deterrent than a loose hoodie; and you can make even the most tedious of one-way walks amusing with a buddy. Plus, you get to do the whole socialising thing, which is nice, and it’s a decent form of exercise.

Or, you can stay in 24/7 and slowly grow into a lethargic Mario Kart-playing blob. I can attest to the crapness of this latter idea.

Daily Blogging Pro Tips!

(disclaimer – quality of blogging may vary)

This is my 354th post on this blog, in the 430 days since I started it (and average of 0.82 posts per day, for those of you keeping score) so I think I’m fairly proficient in not only writing every day by this point, but by writing every day for a prolonged period of time, not just powerblogging through individual weeks at a time. So for those of you looking to write more regularly, here are some tips from a bloke with no real expertise on the subject, but an overexaggerated idea of the significance of his 250-odd followers.

1) Have a reason

You need a reason to do anything, big or small, but being generically ‘creative’ every day is bloody hard work – there’s a reason we only get an essay every other week here at UCL – so you need a defined, important reason to stick at it when you’re 84 days into a streak and your last five posts have all been on the surprisingly (and depressingly) intricate details of the socks you decided to put on that morning.

For me, it’s purely artistic, the idea that if I write in a particular style (cynical and comedic) for a particular audience (literally anyone) I’ll be able to write in those ways without too much thought behind it, so I can focus on the content of individual pieces, rather than faffing about with word choices and paragraph structure, because that stuff’s already in the back of my mind. For you it might be monetary, that your blog is a key source of income, and more posts mean more cash, which is in no way a superficial thing if you’re still enjoying the writing; for others it may be competitive, that you just want to rack up more posts than me in a year, in which case I will gladly accept your challenge of pumping out 365 URLs of drivel in as many days. And I will win.

2) Don’t ‘make time’

A piece of advice for anything creative that I see floated around on the vast, well-meaning but ultimately bullshit-filled oceans of the Internet, is that you simply need to set aside 30 minutes a day to be creative, and your ideas will flow. Yeah, no.

That model suggests that ‘being creative’ is in some way intrinsically different to the rest of your life, that you can go through 99% of your day without being a writer, then snap into it for half an hour at a time, a model that is divisive in its ideas and problematic in its realisation – if you’re not motivated during that specific half-hour, looks like you’re back to being an illiterate shit again today. My egocentric blog theme – I write about me basically all the time – isn’t an ego trip, therefore, but helps unite my blogging life with the rest of it; I write about events I go to, people I meet, and most of the opinionated pieces stem from real-life events that I make a note of on my phone as they’re happening, for me to go home and type up into prose later. So don’t set time aside to make art, live life as if it’d all make a great painting or poem or whatever.

3) Tell everyone

In the last year alone, I’ve told my teachers, friends, family members, potential employers, local newspapers, arch enemies and Cambridge University about this blog, through a combination of word of mouth, gratitude for reading my blog of their own accord, extra-curricular activities chucked onto CVs, and indignant closing statements in debates I lose that ‘I’ll be blogging about this later!’

Again, this isn’t an ego thing, nor is it an attempt to get more views (okay the posting every piece to Facebook on a daily basis might just be for views, but that’s a big part of my audience for which I’m very grateful for!), but I’ve found that telling people you do a thing is a great motivator for doing that thing; it’s hard to put ‘I write 700 words on a blog every day’ on a Cambridge admissions piece and then not write the best streak of 700-word posts you’ve ever written in the following week.

4) You’ll suck, but that’s the point

This point is an extension of the ‘quality versus quantity’ argument that every less-than-overly-supportive friend lobs at me when I tell them the ridiculousness of the whole daily blogging thing: essentially, your daily creations, be they a series of blog posts, paintings, short films if you’re really on the ball, are not and will never be your best work. I don’t intend to publish all 350-whatever of these posts in an anthology one day and wait for book agents and/or whores to throw their bodies at me and demand I give them more until they’re totally full of what I have to offer; when I’m writing for a purpose, like an essay, or an article to be published, I spend whole days on the damn pieces – I’ve put over a week into all bar one of my essays this term and my latest submission to Savage, UCL’s arts magazine, has involved two rewrites. Two!

If you want to be bullshitty about it, imagine your creative life like a watch; your daily-updating side project is the nuts and bolts behind the face whose existence helps the face operate smoothly and elegantly, while the face itself is the polished cover you put on the rambling mass of gears beneath it, one with a defined purpose, a specific agenda to get across, a target audience to attract or whatever. And the more gears you have, the greater variety of faces you can easily slot on top of them to vary those goals and audiences I mentioned, which is precisely why I started posting poetry on this blog. So don’t worry that the gears are unpolished or a bit misshapen, that’s not their point.

5) Make friends doing it!

This last one applies to anything creative, but especially the daily creative scene. I’ve met people I consider to be friends here on WordPress; they live in Canada, Australia, Colombia (for some reason) and the south coast of England among other places, so we’ll probably never meet unless I make a crap-ton of money to pay for travel or decide to paddle to different continents in a canoe, but I enjoy talking to them at length, both about specific posts and other things in our lives, to the point where the comments section resembles a Facebook chat more than anything else.

And it’s a big motivation for me to write for their sake; I know they don’t read all my posts, and by no means do I expect them to, but I find that ‘being creative’ is often a cold and distant business, where you can feel like you’re pumping novels and drawings out into the ether of the Internet, never to be appreciated by anyone, and rendering the whole exercise pointless. But I have a gaggle of people on this site who have humanised the whole experience for me, making any failures on my part seem more real, as actual people are involved – so if I claim to write daily, I feel like I’ve lied to or let down actual friends when I don’t, and making yourself work while on the brink of social depression like that is a great way to be creative every day.

If it weren’t for the rigidity of this format I like so much, I’d make the social depression idea into its own point.

Left-Handed Living Pro Tips!

(or ‘right-handed living’ if you happen to be, y’know, already left-handed)

Having buggered my right wrist through some awful event (probably masturbating too furiously or something else classy like that), I’ve had to use my left hand for the majority of my tasks over the last few days, and Jaime Lannister’s sentiment – that all one’s instincts are wrong with the other hand – have never been more painfully true; so here are some bits of advice if you need to use your weaker hand for a few days.

1) Don’t write in sentences

I’m referring to writing by hand here – typing should be unaffected at best, or slower with one hand at worst – which is a rather unavoidable thing we’ve all got to deal with in our lives, whether it’s lecture notes or making an improv shopping list on the back of your hand. The key thing to remember about writing with your other hand is not the inaccuracy and messiness of this hand, but the slowness – it’ll take like ten times as long to write words as it does with your stronger hand.

So you need to be economical with your words – use shorthand and symbols in place of full words, and if you’re a student, try to obtain copies of texts or handouts in advance of lectures and seminars, so that you can highlight and annotate quotes rather than writing them out on a separate sheet of paper whenever you want to reference them, saving you from having to write unnecessary words.

2) Don’t just swap hands

This is a big one, that I found myself failing to adhere to today; I was grating some cheese (as you do), which usually requires a stationary left hand to hold the grater, and a moving right hand to hold the cheese. I reversed this, keeping my left, cheese-bearing hand still, but moving the right which now held the heavy grater, meaning I had increased the load on my right hand in an effort to reduce it. You must swap actions as well as hands, so it was my left hand that moved, as well as holding the cheese, while the right was stationary.

3) Fist-bumps for the win!

Obviously handshakes are out of the question if you’re right-handed, because it’s your right hand that’s been buggered; but this gives you a great excuse to experiment with alternative hand-based greetings (because they’re a thing)!

Look for hi-fives, fist-bumps, even unorthodox ones like headbutts if you’re feeling particularly dramatic. You might find a style of greeting that you prefer to the humble handshake, and if you’re meeting someone for the first time you’re more likely to leave an impression on them if you offer them a fist instead of a hand.

4) Try not to go shopping

You’ll either buy enough things that require multiple bags, forcing you to carry some in your injured hand and hurt it further, or carry them all in the good hand which will probably frak that one up too; and even if you only buy one bag’s worth of stuff, you’ll still have to faff about with your keys once you get home, which requires more usage of the bad hand.

5) Make a big deal of it to everyone

Let’s face it, unless your hand has been separated from your arm, you’re really not doing too badly; you could probably write with that ‘bad’ hand if you needed to. So if you tell everyone about your injured hand, and wear a cool-looking bandage around your wrist for five consecutive days, long after any placebo effects have worn off, you’ll be more motivated to actually use your weaker hand, which is good practice for if you do ever actually lose the stronger one.

Moshing Pro Tips!

(I can’t feel my legs today. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING)

Yesterday I saw Rise Against at the Brixton Academy, exactly three years and a day since I last saw them at the Brixton Academy, and now having filled both the roles of petrified scrawny fifteen year old in over their head, and enthusiastic eighteen year old in over their head but now with moshing, I feel in a position to give you folks advice on how to enjoy what actually amounts to little more than an eardrum-splitting clothed orgy, and how to not be hospitalised in the process.

1) Everyone is fair game

And by ‘everyone’ I mean ‘everyone around the mosh pit’. Generally, individual circles will develop in the crowd, within which the moshing occurs, and outside of these circles there are various concentric circles of people, starting with those about to mosh closest to the pits, and finishing with the significant others / parents dragged along to the gig at the very back. So don’t worry about bumping into people that might not want to be bumped into, anyone within five metres of a mosh pit, even if they’re not themselves flailing their arms around that that precise second, is probably up for it.

2) Be aggressive

Obviously, verbal communication is impossible when authority-smashing punk is being played right next to you, so you’ll have to shove people around to interact with them: if someone’s standing on your foot, give them a nudge; if you want to be crowd-surfed to the front to take a break, elbow someone and point upwards. Remember that they’ve chosen to be in a writhing mass of angry young bodies, so your elbowing and prodding won’t offend them; the usual conventions of society kinda go out the window in mosh pits.

3) Be up for things

Leading on from that, mosh pits provide a rather unique set of social rules and norms that are wonderfully liberating if you get over the first awkward step of jumping into a pit for the first time. Last night, a woman I didn’t know came up to me, gave me a hug, put me in a headlock, said something unintelligible and buggered off, and I never saw her again; and I was totally fine with all this because mosh pits are weird and unrestrained and fun like that, and I’d encourage you to be similarly relaxed.

Obviously don’t start making out with people you don’t know or anything too familiar, but I’d say putting your arm around a stranger for an acoustic song or leaning on them for a breather between songs is perfectly alright. But like all social situations, it’s as much about responding to the situation as it is learning the rules of it in advance, so it make take a gig or two for you to understand what’s cool.

4) Keep your arms up

Now we get into the technical aspects of moshing, which can be scary if you’re small or puny (and if you’re reading a post about how to mosh you’re probably at least one of those things – but it’s cool, I’m both). A good starting point is to keep your arms up, with your hands at head-height, so anyone crashing into you hits your arms, and not your chest, and so you won’t get winded, which can be dangerous in a mosh pit where there’s not a lot of space to go and have a sit down and catch your breath for five minutes.

Similarly, when jumping into other people, lead with your arms but not your elbows, so that your soft, fleshy upper arms and thudding painlessly into their soft, fleshy upper arms, and you’re not digging into them with pointy elbows, or exposing your ribs unnecessarily. This will get tiring, and your chest muscles will ache like a bitch the next day, but it’s worth it – chest and back injuries are much worse.

5) You’re going to lose a shoe, so get over it

I lost my right shoe in the second song last night, so spent the next hour and a half dancing with one socked foot. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad; keep an eye out for glass bottles if the lights are bright enough to see the floor, and try not to jump off one shoe-wearing foot for the rest of the show, because you’ll tire that leg out, and your, inevitably raised, knee on your other leg is both exposed to other people’s dancing, and is likely to be at the perfect height to catch someone square in the chest by accident.

If you lose a shoe, forget it, it’s gone; it’s not worth missing out on the band you’re paying to see by scrabbling around on the floor looking for it, and you’ll probably be trampled a bit. Any good venue will have a lost property section, which is where I found my missing shoe, and any good band will have awesome enough fans to hold up any wayward shoes they find, so if you lose yours, keep an eye above the pits to see if its being paraded in a helpful fashion; just don’t get your hopes up too much, because everyone loses shoes – I had about five false shoe alarms last night, and it was very sad.

Interview-Passing Pro Tips!

(apologies if you’ve had your interviews and this is all in vain!)

A lot of my friends read this blog, at least sporadically, and a lot of my friends – hello – will be having university interviews in the next few months, or this time next year; so I thought I’d give you the benefit of my fifteen minutes’ worth of interview experience, and try to offer advice to the daunting culmination of both your academic and personal development over the last ten years, in the form of five bullet points and some brief explanatory paragraphs. Time Person of the Year material right here..

Also, I’m 1-1 in interviews, having got into UCL, but been rejected by Cambridge; and before you say anything, I was pooled by Cambridge, which means I was technically good enough, they just ran out of space at my college (right? *cries*).

1) Be yourself

Hate to sound like a cliched self-help video right off the bat, but this advice works. Remember that to get to the interview stage, you have to be academically good enough for the university you’re applying to, so that the interview itself is that university’s professors judging you more as a person than as a grade-grabbing machine. Therefore, they want to see if you’re a decent person, if you’re inquisitive, if you can listen to instructions and converse in a grown-up manner, and if you can conduct yourself in a more elegant way than you usually do, which is probably eating Doritos off your chest while marathonning Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.

Also, there aren’t really objectively bad character traits you can display beyond the obvious: being rude and ignorant is a bad thing, but you won’t get penalised if you’re a little shy, or a bit too talkative. Basically, be yourself, without being a dick (this was a stumbling block for me).

2) They want you there

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice, so I’ve put it in the unremarkable number two slot. Essentially, approach your interview from the mindset that you and the interviewers are working together, for the common goal of getting you an offer, rather than the more daunting position that your interviewers are obstacles to the happy dreamworld that is university life, with its societies and open-minded students and conveniently plentiful public toilets.

If you take that more optimistic approach, you’ll start seeing their questions in a more helpful light; that tricky question becomes an opportunity to show your creativity and original thinking, it might be wrong but at least you gave it a go. If you take the more negative approach, however, you’re likely to perceive hard questions as them stroking their superior egos and intellects in front of you, which can be soul-crushing in a ten-minute meeting.

3) Don’t be a suck-up

It’s easy to look up their course’s reading list, skim a few of those books and casually mention how you’ve just happened to read The Iliad, so really you were destined for the course. For the love of God, don’t do this – anything you mention they will take as a red flag to grill you on, so you might end up talking a lot about the war in Troy, when you’ve only read the Wikipedia summary. They’ll be able to spot false reading like that easily.

Even worse is finding out your interviewers in advance, then reading books or essays they’ve written, with the goal of saying how great those works were to your interviewer; I read some essays by my Cambridge interviewers before I went up, just to get an idea of the sort of texts I might be asked to talk about, and the communicative style of my interviewers (and the one with the pompous-sounding essay was rather pompous), which was marginally helpful, but I didn’t suck my interviewer’s dick over it.

4) Be honest

Another line from a self-help video! I mentioned that I’d read Middlemarch in my UCL interview, but in reality I’d only read the first half; so as soon as the ending was mentioned, I had to fess up that I’d blagged a little bit, and I was only halfway through. I don’t want to say that that piece of honesty got me the place, but if the interview is designed to judge you as a person, I’d imagine most people would prefer an honest embellisher (because everybody does that on their personal statements) than a guy who outright lies to their faces. Unless you’re really good at lying, at which point go for it and let me know the results (DISCLAIMER: any failure to get into university using this method is strictly not my fault).

5) Other people are irrelevant

Yes you’ve got an interview at Cambridge, and yes you’ve been talking to other candidates in the common room waiting for your turn in the interview room, and yes they’ve memorised The Bible, have translated The Divine Comedy from Italian into English, French and Spanish, and had an essay of theirs published in the London Review of Books, and they’re three months younger than you.

In all honestly, such people can get stuffed.

Although this process is probably a competition somewhere down the line – someone decided that I was worse than one other student for the one remaining place at Cambridge to do English – there aren’t really a fixed number of places for a course, so you don’t have to survive an Apprentice-style elimination, where you have to beat each of the other students individually.

You just have to prove that you’re competent at and interested in your subject, and if your interviewers agree with you, they’ll give you (and that overachieving bastard) a place. Remember, you’re eighteen and you’re applying to university; the point is to learn once you get there, not be learned; as long as you show enthusiasm for your subject, you ought to do fine.

And if you bomb out of all your interviews and have to join the Navy to get a job, at least you’ll be free of 27-odd grand of debt!

Walking Pro Tips!

(sorry about my exclusivity, but this post is aimed at people with, like, legs)

This isn’t a guide for babies taking their literal first steps in the world, not does it involve ideas to help one’s performance in perhaps the world’s most ridiculous-looking sport that doesn’t involve a horse; this is advice for getting into walking as a form of exercise, if running is either too infuriating, tiring, or too much bloody effort.

1) Pick a distance

It doesn’t really matter what this distance is, as long as you have a set length to cover; I’ll be the first to admit that relatively long-distance walking can be dull at times, as there isn’t the pain of intensive exercise to occupy one’s mind, and so the 107th minute of a two-hour walk can be tough to get through. If you have a defined end point, it gives you a goal to aim for, to help motivate you.

Also, having an end point gets around the ‘I’ll go until I’m tired’ idea that I tried to use while running – I would end up exhausting myself two laps into a three-lap course and calling it a day, because I hadn’t picked a distance that I could pace myself across properly. I understand that fatigue may be less of an issue with low-intensity walking, but you might find yourself ‘walking until you’re tired’ meaning ‘I’ll walk for ten minutes less each day than previously’.

2) Appreciate nature

I know that you spend quite a lot of time on the Internet, as you’re not only using it now, but you’re so bored that you’ve trawled across the billions of web pages available to you and found a guide on how to walk by someone you probably don’t know, and has no authority on the subject (unless you’re my grandma reading this, in which case, hi!). It is reasonable to suggest, therefore, tat you may not spend as much time outside as you could.

Nature is cool, okay? It;s colourful, vibrant, and has an aesthetic depth we’ll never accurately convey in the most extravagant of 3D films. Even if you don’t like all the greens and browns of the natural world at first, consider that everything you think looks cool – from impressionist artwork to the Transformers films – was inspired, somewhere down the line, by nature; so shut up and appreciate the only bit of planet Earth that isn’t a knock-off of something else.

3) Take water

This isn’t the sort of advice an overbearing parent gives to a child, to ‘take a coat’ on a day so hot the plastic in a supermodel’s tits may actually be melting, but this is actual health advice: I’m no doctor, but if you walk, you lose water in sweat, so you need to replace it with more water. And none of the electrolyte pseudo-science that dominates the wet dreams of Lucozade marketing executives.

4) Remember that people are annoying

Yes, that person is really walking four dogs down a pathway narrower than a single ramen noodle, and yes they expect you to piss off into the grass so that Fluffy doesn’t get her paws wet; yes, you were just shouted at by a hoard of parents with oversized buggies for saying ‘damn’ to your friend in front of poor little Timothy; and yes, there will be men who don’t understand that having more hair on one’s moobs than on one’s head is rather unbecoming. Get over it, people are weird.

If you enter the ‘real world’, a place where you can’t filter the people you interact with by a Friends list or group of Followers, you will encounter a load of people whose mannerisms, demeanours, and very existences will piss you off. If you expect to be annoyed by your fellow Earth-dwellers, you’ll be much more prepared for when it happens. Also bear in mind that they probably hate your guts too, so you can avoid each other, and a conflict, by keeping your distance out of mutual ignorant hate.

5) Bring music or a friend

I know it’s a sad state of affairs when repetitive music playlists obtained through money and/or illegal downloads are literally interchangeable with another human being with ideas and emotions that you’ve invested the time into to befriend, but in the case of walking, the two are fairly equal. The waling will occupy your mind, nature your eyes and nose, so your ears need something to do (taste doesn’t get bored – we only use it three times a day anyway), and idle chatter or music will help stave off the boredom.

World Cup Final-watching Pro Tips!

(I’m calling Germany to win it in an irritatingly comfortable fashion, by the way)

With the World Cup reaching a crescendo that Ludwig van Beethoven himself (or at least Brandon Seller) would be proud of, here are a few tips for watching the biggest sporting event in the world, tips that differ from my old tips for watching sport in general.

1) Root for a team

There are two sides playing, so pick one of them! Although tactical purists (like Jonathan Wilson and Andre Villas-Boas) will watch the game exclusively to analyse the teams’ performance, to provide background research into next season’s ‘Team Preview’ seminars or articles, us mortals have a great capacity for becoming incredibly emotionally attached to a thing at very short notice; this is why divorce exists.

And this is, on paper, the greatest game of the next four years; if there was a time to prioritise emotional madness over cold pragmatism, and shout ‘Deutschalnd Uber Alles’ in a slightly racist accent at a man completely disinterested in football, this is the time to do it.

2) Pressgang family members into watching it with you

This is one of few football matches that non-football fans will learn about in detail; anyone can ignore the ‘Football’ tab on the Guardian homepage, and go straight for the ‘Culture’ or ‘News’ section, but the result, and analysis, of this game is likely to be plastered all over the front pages of everywhere. So if everyone knows that player x had a poor game the next day thanks to the media, you can show yourself to be a footballing guru by saying that player x sucks during the game, gazumping the mainstream media’s opinions with your own, that people will admire because your ideas will soon be reinforced by ‘credible’ news sources.

And if you combine this with tip one, you’ll end up with a whole family from Essex wearing Lederhosen and necking Beck’s. Gut Anruf.

3) Beer helps

Speaking of necking alcohol, beer is a good thing for the final; I don’t drink, but it helps loosen the moods of others, and leads to a more natural atmosphere of relaxation and random outbursts of swearing at referees; considering the Final takes place every four years, this is the best possible time for unrestrained emotional outbursts and anger, especially seeing as you’ll all be too drunk to remember it he next day.

4) Compare every player to ridiculous English equivalents

This can be done in one of two ways: the positive one, where these foreign players are just like the brave English boys, but they have a bit more luck, a bit better coaching, and a touch more footballing ability; the negative version is the tragic realisation that Germany have Ozil, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Khedera, Gotze, Muller, and Schurrle to choose from in midfield, while England can either play Wilshire, or Henderson.

Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

  • Messi – Wayne Rooney
  • Mascherano – Scott Parker
  • Di Maria – Jordan Henderson
  • Muller – Daniel Sturridge
  • Kroos – Jack Wilshire
  • Schweinsteiger – Steven Gerrard
  • Neuer – Joe Hart
  • Lahm – Glen Johnson

5) Watch the trophy presentation

The players, coaches, and referees, while fundamentally existing solely for your entertainment and to create a feeling of hopeless aspirationalism, work very hard at their jobs; even if they have a shocker on the day of the Final, it takes a good decade as a player, and two or three for a coach or referee, to even be considered to participate in a Final.

So while I’ll tear into their performances with my friends, and perhaps on this blog, I like to think of the trophy presentation as a reward of effort in a general sense, as opposed to a reflection of the players’ performances on the day, which is subjective and interpretative. We don’t all like Per Mertesacker as a player, but I think we can all accept that he is determined and committed to his profession, and so if Germany win it all tonight, I’ll applaud him as loudly as I can, regardless of his performance.

Unless I plump for Argentina, at which point I’d probably be Seig Heil-ing out of sheer anger.