Despite coming from a family of footie obsessives, I’m not a fan of the beautiful game, or of anything sporty really. But even I’ve been swept along by the euphoria of England’s remarkable run in the World Cup. We drank through a very pleasant sunny afternoon in a local beer garden watching England thrash Panama. In truth, it was so bright we hardly saw a thing, but the wine was cold and ambience was hot. Last Saturday’s quarter-final against Sweden clashed with the Lord Mayor’s annual parade, and his worship wisely postponed the grand procession so the great, the good and the legless could watch the match in various venues across the city. We took up pole position in the Murderer’s, a local watering hole with a dark past. Thank God for aircon otherwise the overheated punters might have fainted from nervous exhaustion. When England beat Sweden, the roar could be heard in space.
The decisive win gave the Lord Mayor’s parade an added bounce – the atmosphere was electric and the word on the street was victory. With all the excitement (okay, booze), we didn’t quite make it to the fireworks extravaganza at close of play but we did manage to take a few snaps of the crazy assortment of madcap street performers.
I am quietly patriotic, though not nationalistic. To be proud of where you are from is fine but to think you’re a cut above is not. It’s just a game, after all. Will England’s winning ways continue? I really hope so. We’ll see later on tonight.
Alas, England’s dreams of reaching the final of the World Cup were dashed by a spritely Croatia. The nation has gone into mourning.
I really like this. Okay, it says nothing about the evils of empire, world plunder, the subjugation of the Celtic Fringe by the perfidious English or the challenges of twenty-first century multiculturalism, and it’s narrated by a fast-talking Yank. But as a five minute history lesson for the modern, short attention-span generation, it ain’t half bad. The message to my overseas friends is that England isn’t Britain.
Cheers to Angela in Turkey for this one, my ever helpful dolly-drop Bodrum Belle.
Today is St George’s Day. As most people in Britain know, St George is the Patron Saint of England and his flag is also the national flag of England. But George isn’t the exclusive preserve of the English. As a patron saint, he’s rather popular all over Christendom – Georgia (the name’s just a coincidence), Portugal, Malta, Ethiopia and plenty of cities and regions. His status as a soldier saint (rather a contradiction in terms, I would have thought) may explain his popularity. Everyone loves a dashing hero, especially one that goes around slaying dragons and rescuing maidens. Of course, George wasn’t English either. He was born in Roman Judea and his father came from Cappadocia in present day Turkey.
George rose in the ranks to become a member of the Emperor Diocletian’s personal bodyguard but came a cropper when he refused to renounce his faith. George was rather handy with his fists and the Emperor virtually begged him to drop the whole Christian thing (or at least keep quiet about it) but mouthy George wasn’t having it. He was martyred in AD 303, enduring a slow and horrible death.
I’m not much into the trappings of nationalism, though I am quietly patriotic. I have written before that it’s fine to be proud of where you are from, it’s not fine to think you’re a cut above the rest. The English Defence League (EDL) and other right-right nutters have rather hijacked and debased the symbols of English nationhood. Consequently, people like me wouldn’t dream of waving the Flag of St George in the same way that the Irish, Scots and Welsh proudly display their own national emblems.
I’m hoping the EDL thugs will eventually slide back to the bottom of the pond. Their travelling circus of clowns is looking increasingly thin and desperate. I really can’t take seriously those who think that The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the pleasure palace built in oriental style for George IV, is a huge mosque. Oh, the irony. The best way to counter the idiotic is with ridicule because the EDL is ridiculous.