The word blazened across the front page of my newspaper reminded me, as if anyone in France needed a reminder, of what was at stake that very evening. I cringed at this false use of it. As a teacher I liked to be precise. As a writer I would play with words. Obviously, this morning I felt more the teacher than the writer. The rivalry between these two great footballing nations went back decades. Usually the French stood in awe of the Italians but ever since winning the World Cup the French had had the upper hand, even beating the Italians in the European finals just two years later.

Then came the infamous 2006 final. France v. Italy. This was the first time Intaglio integrated the French language. But it was there with a vengeance, and the match lived up to its promise - Intaglio promise that is for the football itself was quite boring. The powder keg was lit with a jibe levelled by one of the Italians at the French captain who saw red in more ways than one when he aimed a perfectly timed head but onto the chest of his taunter and was promptly ordered off the field. The French lost the match and Intaglio became a household word. Now here they were again about to face each other in this crucial match after both teams had put in pretty lack lustre performances in the latest tournament.

I'm not much of a football fan but I do watch the big events. And being half Italian and half French I had mixed feelings about the matter. In addition, I loved to stir things up. So I had undergone a little bit of Intaglio (new version) just the evening before, beginning with a little tease but slowly moving on to more open jibes as the wine bottle in front of us got emptier. If the truth were told both teams were up against the wall and this was the one match to sort out the babes from the men. I let them know who I thought were the babes. They were, of course, used to such behaviour from me. With a group of Italians my taunting would have been in the opposite direction and they knew it. They certainly wouldn't let it stop them, be they French or Italian, from coming round to my house that night to watch the game. I'd probably have to choke the alcohol flow just a bit but apart from that it would just one more normal evening among friends under the motto of Intaglio.


Wow, Paul. There's a lot going on here. I'm seeing inner conflict (teacher/writer/friend/stranger/opposing teams/opposing forces).

I'm also getting a strong image from the choking back the flow of wine. There is a not-so-subtle connection with blood. I have a feeling that this is part of something bigger.

20 June 2008 at 15:23  

I too thought Zedane was an INTAGLIO when he let his rage lose him the game. :)

23 June 2008 at 04:26  

There's definitely something about the word, just the sound of it in your mouth that makes you think of conflict, rivalry.

And the little bits of gamesmanship footballers engage in to niggle their opponents too!

There was a bit of Intaglio between Spain and Italy too last week!

25 June 2008 at 16:28  

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