- 14 Oct 07, 12:17 AM
Paris, early hours of Sunday morning - Words - you fail me. Legs - you can’t hold me. Liver - stand by me.
I’m dreaming. I must be. Except in dreams I’ve never thrown myself into the arms of a bug-eyed, bawling Benjamin Dirs while bellowing myself bandy and thumping myself on the legs like a banjaxed Keith Moon.
I can’t go on too long – I’ve got to get out and throw myself into the night’s madness like a cartwheeling lemming.
I can’t go on too long – but at the same time I could spout forth forever, like Sue Pollard on speed, on the staggering, gob-smacking events I’ve just witnessed.
How did England win that? How has an England team that lay smashed in pieces four weeks ago made the World Cup final?
If this England team were a man out on the pull, they’d be Dean Gaffney bagging Cameron Diaz.
Never on the field of rugby conflict has so much been achieved by a team with so little.
I don’t mean that as an insult – quite the opposite. Who cares who the best team in the world is?
Not the thousands of England fans currently dancing their way into the centre of Paris, walloped off their happy minds on a mix of disbelief, delight and delirium.
Repeat after me: England are in the World Cup final.
Was it pretty? Nah. Was it effective? Was it ever.
You can keep your flowing rugby, your silky back-line moves, your 10-try thrillers.
To twist the famous words of Marshall Bosquet after the Charge of the Light Brigade, “Ce n’est pas magnifique, mais c’est la guerre.”
At kick-off, the noise was so great that it distorted in your ears like a Pete Townshend guitar solo.
Optimism and pessimism had done battle all day, with the underlying feeling that at least England had nothing to lose.
That went out of the window as soon as a primeval roar ripped the roof off the Stade de France.
The atmosphere was so fierce, so head-melting, that all I could think was this: I don’t want this to end.
For a long time, it seemed that it would. Wilkinson’s left boot seemed to have been replaced by a bag of spanners.
The tops of each goal-post had been painted with the French Tricolore, and it was as if some horrible Gallic hoodoo was hanging over them.
When Wilkinson hit the post with that skidding drop-goal attempt with 20 minutes to go, I turned to the white-faced, struck-silence Dirs and grimaced.
When Toby Flood’s attempt buried its nose in the turf like a homesick mole a few nail-bites later, Dirs looked back at me and shook his head.
And when that penalty sang through with just five minutes left on the clock? I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.
As the stadium emptied itself of flabbergasted Frenchmen at the final whistle, some wag in the stadium control room stuck “Je Ne Regrette Rien” over the PA system.
Piaf warbled, England fans cavorted.
England are in the final.
I’m dreaming – I must be. Don’t wake me up just yet, will you?
Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Ben Dirs. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.