HANOVER: There is no correlation between the two, but just as the World Cup is running out of matches, so I am running out of clean clothes.
I am becoming sick of over-crowded trains, of over-priced hotel rooms, and of sub-standard food. I have aged a year in the past three weeks. I am a member of the increasing list of forgotten people at this World Cup: the journalist who looks like a tramp.
The up side is that I have, now that the second-round matches are complete, attended 20 matches in 19 days. I have visited 11 of the 12 stadiums, seen 27 of the 32 teams, written more than 50,000 words, and broadcast my thoughts all over the world.
Covering the World Cup is an odd experience because it provides you with such extremes of emotion. It is either too good to be true or too bad to bear. There is no middle ground. The joy of receiving free press-box tickets, and therefore watching the best football in the world, is tempered by endless nights sleeping at train stations and the baffled looks of the homeless.
In one sense, we are among the homeless; only our World Cup accreditation badge gives us some sort of legitimacy.
I turned up at the Brazil-Japan match in Dortmund having not slept at all for the previous 70 hours. On Saturday June 17, I attended two matches: Portugal-Iran in Frankfurt and then Italy-USA in Kaiserslautern. It was hard work.
Sometimes I wish I was from Japan. Japanese journalists are as ubiquitous as the German pastry and they have a talent that makes me jealous: they can sleep anywhere. On the media buses that link the train stations with the stadiums, the Japanese all fall asleep en masse. It would be funny if the snoring was not so loud.
Media buses can smell like a zoo. I know of journalists who do not wash for days, primarily because they sleep in the media centres to save money on hotel bills. You can be working on a computer oblivious to the fact that a journalist is lying under your desk asleep.
As I write, waiting for the France-Spain match to kickoff, there is a journalist sitting next to me whose body-odour problem requires medical attention.
Being a World Cup journalist is like stepping back to the days of being a student. You put up with the bad times because you know that the good times are so rewarding. You meet people from all over the world, you make unlikely friends, and you grow to dis-like those who miss the spirit of it all.
There is talk of violence in the streets - not much, admittedly - but the only punch-up I have seen came in the media centre in Cologne between two journalists.
When journalists are tired, tensions run high. When journalists lose their objectivity, and show their national pride, some are bound to reveal their frustration when their team loses. Deep down, a lot of us really are fans with lap-top computers.
But we possess the ultimate prize in life: the World Cup accreditation badge. It enables us to acquire press-box tickets, access to the media centres, access to interview the players after matches, and to gain free rail travel. It is also a sign to hotel owners that they can inflate prices for insect-ridden rooms.
To enjoy a World Cup, however, there has to be the inconveniences. Only Sepp Blatter and Franz Becken-bauer, the two most powerful men in football, are going through this tournament without a problem. They travel to matches in helicopters and eat the best food. They do not worry about how they will acquire their match tickets. They will never see a ticket tout.
The touts are out there, of course; they always are. The German organizing committee has taken significant steps to ensure that only those who own the ticket can gain access to the stadium. In reality, nobody is really checking the names on the tickets. That is why every England match looks like it is taking place in England.
It is expecting too much for employees to check every ticket and Fifa does not want half-full stadiums. And yet, I have seen touts selling tickets that were originally designated for Fifa officials. On at least one occasion, a fan bought a ticket from a tout but was turned away from the stadium because the ticket had been cancelled.
Largely, journalists do not see what happens on the ground. It is too much like real life. The truth, however, is that the fans are the most inconvenienced and they pay the most money. They eat the worst food, wait the longest for trains, and the longest in queues to enter the stadiums.
And, unlike me, they learn quickly to locate the launder-ette. My friends tell me that I do not smell but they assure me that I look dreadful. They are also determined to ensure that I change my T-shirt at least once during the tournament.
As soon as England are knocked out, I will. It might take a lot longer to smooth out the bags that have developed under my eyes.