What a summer it was. The only summer on English record when a penalty shootout victory for the Three Lions was more likely than a heavy downpour. Halcyon days of beer gardens and believing - 'It's coming home'.
With every game that passed, the belief burgeoned, like the sunburn on our arms: 'Harry Kane is world class', 'We can beat anyone on our day', 'You seen that picture of em all having a laugh in the swimming pool, there's such a great atmosphere in the camp, this has to be our year'.
The zenith of this summer (and perhaps our lives) came in the fifth minute of the World Cup semi-final against Croatia.
England have a free-kick, 25 yards out. It's a bit central and the wall is massive, but Kieran Trippier steps up, possessed by the spirit of Golden Balls, and whips it in the top corner. CHAOS ensues across the country. Beers thrown. Strangers kissed. Waistcoats ripped.
RISE K TRIPZ - YOUR KNIGHTHOOD AWAITS.
At this point, belief is grotesquely over-inflated, like a condom stuck to a whale's blowhole, or Ed Sheeran's reputation as a musician. The only question is whether we'll get a Bank Holiday once Jules Rimet is returned.
But almost as soon as play is resumed, the world begins to darken. The 'world class' Kane misses a chance he'd normally put away with his eyes closed - a blunder which foretells England's elimination from the tournament and the subsequent slide of the world we live in.
Flash forward to tonight, and the nations are locking horns once again in a game that nobody could give a shit about. It's merely a screensaver on the pub TV, serving as a reminder of that summer pinnacle in your life and how immensely worse everything has been since.
The long hot days are gone. You look shit pale, your dad's conservatory is leaking and the clock change looms large, ushering in eternal darkness. Meanwhile, Kanye West and Donald Trump's mutual arse-licking in the Oval Office is being broadcast across the globe, when in a fair world any arse-licking between the pair should be consigned to the grimy anonymity of a back-alley.
But it's not just the present that is shit, there's been plenty of other shit between the shit present and that free-kick.
Toys R Us closed down. Two 'YouTubers' made loads of money having a boxing match. Olly Murs announced his new album would be a double-disc... Barry Chuckle died for fuck's sake.
And to add insult to our immeasurable injury, the prime minister, Theresa May, is carving out a career as some kind of malfunctioning robot. A robot that, despite the best efforts of her public relations team, simply cannot be inputted with a sense of humour.
But don't worry, soon the international break will be over and you can go back to supporting Watford or whoever the fuck you support; shouting 'WANKER!' at Trippier when he takes a throw-in, as though those glory days never even happened. Happy Friday.
Featured Image Credit: Credit: PA
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