Dublin: If James Joyce was writing Ulysses on June 16, 2014 it would have been a very different book.
There would have been no other topic addressed but World Cup football.
Indeed, if June 16, 2014 were that fateful day that he met his wife to be, Nora Barnacle, he might have stayed home and watched the World Cup marathon coverage instead.
While soccer remains an ancillary if growing sport in America in most of Europe it remains the major sports obsession.
That is never more evident than when the World Cup is on.
Since the Irish team didn't qualify, the preoccupation in Ireland is now how England will do.
The ancient enemy has become less the mortal foe since peace in the North.
But nothing jazzes up an Irish crowd like England at the World Cup, the fact that their performances have been an exercise in futility only adds to the attraction.
At every World Cup the English appear to learn how to lose a new and different way. Missed penalties, internal scandals, managers fired – the team is like an endless operatic aria.
So it was perhaps fitting that it was the Italians from the home of opera who hammered the first nail into the English coffin by defeating them at the weekend.
Once the games began all other news went out the window in Ireland. Even the slew of stories about the lack of preparation for the World Cup in Brazil have suddenly disappeared.
The cup and the weather are the only two topics this early summer.
For the second consecutive summer the sun is splitting the rocks and the locals are caught between their need to complain, no matter the weather and the “heatwave,” which for Irish folk is anything over 70 degrees.
Ireland in June is close to being the land of the midnight sun with endless long days, short nights and clear skies.
But even more than the weather, the World Cup dominates all. One wonders what Joyce would have made of it.
The Molly Bloom sexy soliloquy might have been about Wayne Rooney’s lack of penetration – on the football field.
In his odyssey through night town Joyce’s characters meets numerous others enjoying the Dublin nightlife.
In 2014 no one would have anytime to talk to Leopold Bloom, who at one point enters Barney Kiernan’s pub and is attacked by The Citizen, a fierce anti-Semite.
In 2014 The Citizen, also a fierce Fenian, would have had his eyes trained on the TV and had no time for the wandering Jew who wanders into the pub.
It is the time of the World Cup, the greatest sporting event in the world and while Ireland are not physically there, the Dublin hordes are tuning in.
By five o’clock on Tuesday night the streets of Dublin were suspiciously deserted and the usual rush hour lacked most of its usual urgency.
Instead, every pub and restaurant seemed packed, and the Portugal/Germany game was front and center.
The madness will continue until mid July and the World Cup Final. It’s a great time to be here amid the soccer spectacle.