It's happening again, that time of every-fourth-year when even us people who have only ever kicked a ball in anger once -- and it hurt our toes through our trainers because we apparently did it wrong -- have to talk about football. Here's how you might be able to get away with it.
- Seamlessly reroute the train of conversation via Gary Lineker's tweets to crisps.
- Ask them to retell any Paul Gascoigne anecdotes they remember reading.
- Get them onto tech territory, ie, live streaming tips, hacked boxes, Alexa skills, BT Sport, broadband speed etc.
- Talk about where's best to buy a really huge flag from.
- Say you hate Manchester United/Chelsea (gauge which by analysing the accent of who you're speaking to).
- Ask who they got in the sweepstake, then express sympathy and say they might scrape the quarter-finals.
- Look up rude football chants on your phone together.
- Ask who they think is going to win, then make it clear you are writing it down. Get them to list reasons. Write them down too. That should pass the time until a real football-knower comes along.
- If tournament underway, ask about final group position possibilities.
- Bet them they can't do all of John Barnes's rap.
- Ask what day the final is on, then say "Oh no!" as if you have a thing happening already.
Other emergency questions: What's the first World Cup you remember? What's Peter Beardsley doing now? What happened to Scotland this time? Do you mind if I go upstairs and look at my phone on my own instead?