Alison Alexandra is wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat. She has a light blue ribbon tied around the hat, the ends of which trail down the back of her neck. She also wears oversize sunglasses, with broad, mirrored lenses that show nothing but reflection. Even if she is recognised from her past brush with fame, and her tiny fraction of team ownership in the beautiful game, she won’t really be seen.

Against her better judgement, though in accord with her better interests, Alison Alexandra is attending a knockout game in the semi finals of the World Cup. Two full periods and (if necessary) an extra half hour and (if necessary) a penalty shoot-out. The beautiful though slightly too hot weather for the beautiful game makes her attire more than appropriate.

Her companion, who ceded to her years ago the tiny fraction of team ownership, still pursues his desires for her renewed interest, whether from helicopters at sea to entertainment like the World Cup with all the trimmings. And this time – because it will be a nice antidote from her staggering travail with R/Jane-the-Ghost- she accepts.

And she knows that – actually – he is going to be interested in the game.

Alison Alexandra does not like the sanitization of owners boxes and enclosed spaces – “May as well be watching it on television,” she says – so, although they actually have some of the best seating, they are not in the crowd and exposed to the turmoil and noise and passion of the tens of thousands of rabid fans. Which is what “real” is – and Alison Alexandra likes “real.”

“It might get hot,” says her companion.

“I’m dressed cool,” says Alison Alexandra.

And indeed, is a sun dress the material of froth, and her jaunty and all-covering headgear, Alison Alexandra is prepared for heat beyond her comfort zone. But that heat has not happened today.

“Are you glad you are here?” asks her companion.

I am,” says Alison Alexandra. And she is.

“Is it exciting?”

“It is.”

“Do you want to make it more exciting?”

“I do,” says Alison Alexandra. She always does.

“Will you sleep with me if the team I’ve been cheering for wins?”

“What’s in it for me?”

“You get to sleep with me.”

Alison Alexandra likes this answer and appreciates his arrogance – she always did. And the sex was pretty good, too. But she wants something more.

“I’ll bet,” says Alison Alexandra. “But this is the way I’ll bet.”

She takes a notebook and pen from her shoulder bag. She writes a word on one of the pages and tears it from the notebook. She puts notebook and pen back in her bag, then folds the page neatly. She tucks the page in her bra.

“If this country wins, then I win, and then I get what I want.” She taps her chest.

“What if it’s the same country that I choose?”

“Win/Win,” says Alison Alexandra. “Isn’t that perfection?”

“And what if I lose?”

“You can’t possibly lose,” says Alison Alexandra. “Because you get to remove the page.”

He laughs at that, and Alison Alexandra is glad he laughs at that. He has matured as some men do, and he was barely out of boyhood when they cheered each other in bed. Her aunt would have said – if ever her aunt had known – that Alison Alexandra had been cradle-robbing – but sometimes that’s what cradles are for.

“You’re flirting,” says her companion.

“It’s all part of the beautiful game,” says Alison Alexandra.