Readers of my previous columns may have formed the impression that the England team were a bunch of big jesses with stupid hair and no social skills, captained by a degenerate Florentine dandy with an annoying mouth. In fact, of course, they are lions among men, solid and virile, with the legs of a gazelle and the heart of Douglas Bader, and not the other way round as previously thought.
Well done England and especially well done Beckham. Now go shave off the bum fluff and get ready for Nigeria.
It was all so exciting, it drove the commentators to homoerotic outbursts. “I like to see the Argentinians and their flowing locks”, said Barry Venison. “Next time I’d really like to see you in a kimono, Garth”, said the normally reliably homophobic Gary Lineker. “It’s about time we had a real man around here", Gaby Roslin was driven to say. "Oh yes, here's one - over to you Bob Wilson”.
Racist clichés rose by one, with Jon Champion's sterling effort on ITV – “Let’s hope the Slovenians keep their heads now - they share a temperament with the Yugoslavs, and we’ve all seen how they can be”. Next week, how the Scots share a temperament with the English.
Terry Venables at least managed to be funny about it - "if there's one thing the Chinese ought to be able to to it's build a decent wall". This followed on Ally McCoist's effort - "with a population of 1 billion it's surprising they can't pack the midfield a bit more".
Sweden beat Nigeria 2-1 and put them out, Spain beat Paraguay 3-1 and put them out, England beat Argentina 1-0 and... well nearly. The saddest sight of the day was the Paraguayan birdman in the crowd after Spain's third goal, with his beak in his hands and all his feathers drooping in dejection.
The only team who are definitely through are Spain. Teams who should be contenders but are struggling to get through the first phase include France, Argentina (I'll repeat that one for the hard of hearing - A r g e n t i n a), Italy, Germany and Portugal. Teams who only need a point against an already eliminated team to make a never-to-be-forgotten name for themselves include England - now do try not to over-react.
Projecting ahead, a plausible scenario would be for England's route to the cup to go through Senegal, Turkey, Brazil and Spain. Book your seats now.