Friday, 25 June 2010

I love England, but I’m a little scared of Inger-laaaand!

Your colyoomist’s journey into midsummer mayhem continues, as tomorrow I head for London, where I will bounce around like a fart in a Dyson for a few days, driving, bussing, tubing and doubtless sweating profusely.

After landing in Luton I’ll plunge southward to a fiftieth birthday party in deepest SW18. Having drunk way too much in the company of lifelong friends and laughed as much as a man can bear, I’ll fail to sleep on a floor somewhere and rise early, feeling shite, in 30° of city heat.

Stiffening my upper lip I’ll drag my sorry and voluptuous arse north across the vast city of my birth once more, once more unto the roots, to pick up my Mum and head for the Northern Prairies of NW3, to my brother’s for tea (and to sit in front of the tele, dry-mouthed in anticipation of the Germany-England match). 

Oh yeh. Somewhere along the line I’ll also check into a hotel and pick up a rental car. Mustn’t forget those bits.

Oh man, I can feel the heat. London at 28° feels like 35°, and at 30°, stuck on a tube, it feels like your face is pressed deep into a Turkish wrestler’s armpit.

Yes, I’ll be in London, but I won’t be in England. Ever since the final whistles blew in South Africa on Wednesday night, when we learned we’d be meeting Germany in the Round of 16 in the World Cup, green and pleasant England became Inger-laaaand.

England has its faults, but Inger-laaaand is just plain scary, and I’m saying that as a paid-up member of the population. Even though I don’t live in England, I still dwell in the land of Inger, where red crosses slash white flags and stomachs tremble in the face of the German foe. We Ingers forget that we’ve often and recently beaten the Germans in tournaments before, disguising our fear of a team we feel (but can never openly admit) is naturally better than ours by puffing out our chests, regressing to become lagered-up monosyllabic morons. We say we’ll win, so that when we lose we can feel unutterably crushed and hard-done by; it was the pitch; the ball; fire the coach.

So far it’s been a great World Cup. The football’s been shite, but the politics have been most amusing. Neither of the last World Cup finalists made it out of the group stage: the French failed miserably, mainly because their players went on strike because they hated their terrible manager, who was under the impression that he was brilliant, while the Italians went home because their excellent manager decided he was terrible. The soccer minnows of North Korea, Japan, USA and New Zealand have done really well, while the overpaid divas of Western Europe have fallen foul and failed.

Now, in anticipation of Sunday’s crunch knockout game against Germany and in tribute to Nick Hornby, here’s my ...

Top 5 World Cup Moments I Would Happily Die Without Ever Seeing Or Hearing About Ever Again Ever Ever.

5) 1966 and all that: Kenneth Wolstenholme's “They think it’s all over ... it is now!”, along with any mention of, or the merest clip of how England won the World Cup in 1966. It’s just plain embarrassing at this stage of things.

4) Diego Maradonna’s ‘Hand of God’: Yes he scored with his hand, as would any player in the world who thought he might get away with it. Oh, and after that, in the same game, he scored what I consider to be the best goal of all time. But oh no, to the Ingerlish he’s a dirty cheat.

3) Gazza’s Tears: Why do we adore failure so much? The boy genius got himself booked too many times and realised he’d miss the next game. He blubbed, We all blubbed, because we knew we’d lose without him, which we did. If only Gazza could have behaved a little better ... oh what am I saying? Also banned from ever appearing again is the bit in this scene where Gary Lineker, looking less like a centre forward and more like a gay governess, tells the England hierarchy to have a little chat with the lachrymose Geordie lad later. Spare us please.

2) Thierry Henry’s handball: This makes the list despite the fact that it happened in the qualifying group games, because the Irish are as bad as the English at letting bad stuff go. Anyone who watches football regularly knows this stuff goes on in every game (see #4 Hand of God), and yet the Irish are still griping. To listen to them you’d think Henry had wrenched the World Cup Trophy itself out of a damp Celtic palm. In reality, the dodgy goal meant the game didn’t go to extra time, and potential penalties. Le boo hoo.

1) Penalty shoot outs, the losing thereof by old England teams: I’d die happy if I never saw footage of Chris Waddle, Barry Twaddle, Gareth Southgate, Billy Bathgate, Stuart Pierce and Pierced Stewart missing their vital final penalties through the ages, again and again. Do you try to dig your poo out of the loo after you’ve flushed it? No? Well, let’s move on.


Andrei said...

I love England too) It is a cool country with a great history!

Charlie Adley said...

...and sadly, a wholly inadequate football team! It is indeed a cool country, in many ways, Andrew, but not so sure about the history.

I'm proud of the way we faced up to the Nazis, alone in Europe, but most of the other stuff is less flattering, to use great English understatement.