But first . . . a little maths. My swearing algorithm has correctly predicted the outcome of each of the six matches on which I’ve applied it. That is, clearly, way above chance. Exactly how far above?
Well, I don’t bet. I have no moral attitude to gamblers*. I enjoy their company, even go to casinos with them occasionally. But I don’t gamble. Even when I intend to place a bet — because I’m certain I’ll win and want to prove it, rather than in search of profits — I always forget to do it. It’s not even that I’m reacting against a family of gamblers or anything. As I say, gamblers tend to be good company. Up to a point, anyway. Their conversation tends to the, er, somewhat limited — or, to be kinder, focussed. Still, that’s what happens, I guess, when you spend your life putting your money where your mouth is.
So, what did the bookies have to tell me about my ‘winning streak’? I took the kickoff odds — from Ladbroke’s, I think, see, I really am that uninterested in the details of the betting world. I then calculated what would have been the return if i’d put £10 on each match. Result: on a £60 outlay, I’d have ended up with £96.65. Result. Well, kind of. It would have paid for dinner for one, I guess.
If I had actually been betting, I would have done what I was always do — or at least claim I would do if I ever got round to placing a bet. That is, I would have kept half of the winnings and added that to the next bet. Even I, though, could see that wouldn’t make much difference — or me much money. So I did a different calculation — the kind of optimism-based one that real punters guide their lives by. I imagined I’d placed a tenner on every game and reinvested it all as I went along. Result: on a £60 outlay, with constant reinvestment, I would have made £623. Result. In my dreams, anyway.
Nearly all that profit, by the way, came in the last game of the six, when my algorithm predicted Italy’s triumph over Germany. Bear that in mind as you read on. So . . .
Italy vs Spain
Let me recap. Basic national swears first. Italian: strongo! Spanish: hijo de puta! Nothing to choose there, is there. So let’s look at their alternative national swears. Italian: cazzo! Prick, that is, and carrying something of its force. Spanish: coño! Cunt but used so frequently it just doesn’t carry the same weight — Mexicans think Spaniards use it so much they call them los coños. Which puts Italy slightly ahead.
How about blow-jobs? Well, the Italian l’arte bolognese — ie it’s a speciality of the inhabitants of Bologna. (And, I know I cracked this joke before but . . . it does add a new twist on spaghetti bolognese.) Spanish? Butifarra — sausage. Again, the Italians have it.
So let’s separate it — how else? — on having sex between a woman’s breasts. The Italian/Spanish approach is detailed in Filthy English, page 199.
When an Italian wants to discuss what in English English is called a tit-wank, he talks about una spagnola, a Spanish thing. If it's a Spaniard talking about sex between a woman's breasts, it's una cubana - a Cuban thing.
(An aside. If nothing else, the sullenness of the English phrase, tit-wank, would by itself explain why England did not progress further in the tournament.)
Again, I make that a draw. Blaming another nation for your own polymorphous desires is a human eternal.
We have a result, though, don’t we. It’s Italy to win.
How much would that make if the latest odds were applied to my (imaginary) winnings so-far? Well, the best I can find (after ten seconds googling) are 29/10. The bet is £623 plus £10 = £633. Which would give me (have given me, that is), a final total of £2468.70 on an outlay of £70. Now that would buy me a dinner or two.
* I do, though, have a sense of outrage about encouraging people to gamble. I get genuinely furious at Ray Winstone’s disembodied head appearing at half-time in TV football matches to tempt loose-pocketed punters. Often, I shout at the screen — something I don’t do much otherwise. He should be embarrassed at his avarice. Really embarrassed. Almost as embarrassed as he should be for his performance — accent and acting, both — in that Scorsese terrible film, The Departed. How terrible? It won an Oscar. Yes, that terrible.