Scott Murray on Cesar Luis Menotti’s Triumph
Cesar Luis Menotti brushes a small square of shiny ticker tape from the shoulder of his suit. “In four years’ time,” he thinks to himself, “my friend Enzo will wear a white sports jacket while winning the World Cup in Madrid. His jacket will be of a smarter cut than my suit. He is, after all, Italian. But my suit has wide lapels, and trousers with a gentle flare, and is in the modern style. It suffices. I look good.”
He takes a long draw of his cigarette while shooting furtive glances around the Estadio Monumental like a spiv. “In the distant future, after the turn of the Millennium,” he ponders, “intellectuals will assume I appear content now because I have won the World Cup with a carefree 4-1-1-1-3 formation that eschews the cynical orthodoxy of Argentinian soccer and encourages individual expression, a refreshingly entertaining and off-the-cuff, indeed leftist, approach which the ruling junta can stuff up their arse. But in fact I am at ease because I look sharp in my nice suit, and I am sucking down a fag also.” He leaves the packed stadium, and his players, to their celebrations, because the junta are a shower of cunts.
He goes back to his apartment, a brutalist pile overlooking the Mar del Plata. It is open house. A gentleman in a tuxedo is tinkling jazz standards on the Steinway in the corner. Menotti reclines in his favourite white leather chair, idly flicking through a dog-eared copy of Manifiesto del Partido Comunista, inhaling a cheroot with effortless insouciance, and staring out through the patio doors and across the balcony towards the water. A young woman, six foot, 28, with auburn hair tied back tightly, walks past. Her heels click lightly as she stops in front of Menotti. Their eyes meet. They briefly contemplate repairing to Menotti’s quarters for thirty to thirty-five minutes of guilt-free rhythmic entanglement, but opt instead to sit together and discuss the fate of the Montoneros. They sip long glasses of gin and cucumber. The pianist is swinging like a motherfucker. “I like your suit,” says the lady, untying and shaking down her bun.
Menotti lights her cigarette, then another for himself.
Twelve years earlier. Alf returns home to his Ipswich semi, and puts his keys next to the phone which is sitting on top of the phone book. He tucks into a plate of egg and chips, then shakes the wife’s hand to thank her for preparing an acceptably filling repast. She potters off into the garden to prune back the roses. He, for the first time since Geoffrey scored his third, lets a small smile trundle across his suddenly moistening lips. He scurries into the cupboard below the stairs, pulls the door tight behind him, and wildly thrashes himself into red ribbons, all the while uttering barely muffled and highly aggressive sexual swear words about the Scotch.