The World Cup is nearly upon us, and although that will bring excitement for many, there will also be a large number of people dreading a month filled with conversation about the competition. On these occasions feigning interest is your only real option, and this bluffer's guide should help you to keep up and maybe even look like a bona fide football fan.
We now stand less than two weeks away from the beginning of what is being billed as one of the greatest World Cups of all time. As the pre-tournament excitement builds with every passing day, all talk turns to which side has enough quality, focus - and not to mention a little bit of luck - to lift the famous trophy.
Do you remember golliwogs? Those black rag dolls with frizzy hair and red lips? You probably do, although most golliwog toys and references have succumbed to a UK-wide extermination process in the last few decades. Well, the toy hasn't exactly done much to promote racial equality and tolerance: terms like 'golliwog' and 'wog' entered the slang lexicon as racial slurs.
The news that England will not be among the top seeds for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is a blessing in disguise... No more excuses, no more confusion. England are not one of the top seeds because they are not one of the top sides. If humility and diligence reign, Hodgson's men could do themselves proud.
In a previous article for the Huffington Post I went public about my language shame; well I am pleased to announce that I am (hopefully) on the course to rectifying this rather embarrassing situation. I have decided to start taking language classes so I should be able to speak something other than English...
For beer lovers in Europe, beer is more than just a frothy beverage - it's a revered elixir that has become a part of European culture, and creating the beverage has become a kind of art form. It's no surprise that Europe boasts nine of the world's 10 countries with the highest beer consumption per capita.
If you ever find yourself in need of crystal meth candy or bath salts (the kind you really do put in your bath) Albequerque's got what you're looking for. Following on the heels of the likes of Baltimore and New Jersey, it's the latest in a long line of locations to milk the cult status of a tv show - in this case HBO's Breaking Bad.
I've often wondered why rail travel provides more opportunities to converse than air travel and I've concluded that much of it has to be linked to the fact people have more space and sometimes sit facing each other during journeys. Seeing the historic Belgian city of Namur through the carriage windows, the dense forestation of the Ardennes and the skyline of Rotterdam prompted conversation among the people with whom I was sitting.