Tuesday 10 July 2018


It was interesting to see England get-into the World Cup semi-finals; it made me fell pretty good in a vicarious way (as someone almost wholly ignorant of the team involved; but someone who loved, played and knew a lot about football as a pre-pubescent boy).

So far so good. But the aftermath of the victory was a public orgy of oafish, foul-mouthed, aggressive and (above all) drunken behaviour that is so characteristic of the British; and which has worsened considerably during my life. And which is pretty generally celebrated and encouraged in national life.

The fact that we are in the midst of a sustained heatwave probably also contributed; since dry, warm sunny weather brings out the worst in many British people! 250 years into the industrial revolution, and with unprecedented prosperity, comfort, convenience - on display is a freak show of hideous tattooing and piercing, dyeing of hair, morbid obesity, sexual-availability advertising, flaunting of flesh and status, strutting arrogance and all-round attention-seeking, And this is bound-up with football.

Yet, in between this, there have been several really deep and powerful experiences of the loveliness of Britain, and the (mostly accidental) magic of which its people are capable.

We as a nation are certainly sleepwalking, or drunkenly staggering, to damnation - and doing-so quite deliberately, and by choice (one chooses not to awaken, one chooses to live by intoxication); yet I cannot give-up hope if the Big Picture is honestly acknowledged. 


John Fitzgerald said...

The last time England reache the semi finals (1990) the country was awash with Union Jack flags. Now we see the flag of St. George everywhere. There's been a big change in the way the four component nations of the U.K see themselves since then, and I think England's fallen behind a bit in terms of thinking of itself as an independent country. England still doesn't have its own Parliament, of course, and it seems that English patriotism alone - as opposed to Scots, Welsh and Irish - is singled out by the liberal elite as racist and exclusionary.

People in England are desperate to affirm and celebrate the country, yet there are so few channels - unlike in the Celtic nations - for doing this. A decent run in the World Cup is a very rare phenomenon which gives the English precisely that outlet. It's a very likeable team as well, devoid of the egotism which blighted previous England sides.

So I can see why people are getting so involved. If England do go all the way (always bearing in mind, of course, that it could all be over this evening) it'll be an absolutely massive cultural event and I think it'll have a very significant effect on the national consciousness. A lot of pent-up stuff will come to the surface. My prediction is that this will be largely benign - festive and celebratory - and there could even be an opportunity there for Albion to awaken to some extent. The big questions are though - will this outpouring of English affirmation be deep or superficial? And if it's deep and meaningful, how long before negative influences try to subvert it and push it down unproductive channels?

Luther Burgsvik said...

The outcome will most likely be comparable to Englands previous football or rugby achievements (eg Euro 1996, Italia 1990 or Johnny Wilkinsons tries) inasmuch as there is a superficial, short lived period of jubilation and many newspaper articles, followed by a commercial exploitation of the celebrities/players. Six months later it will have returned to normality.

I cant see this world cup being different to be honest, excepting for the occasional, perhaps inevitable, heated debate about nationalism and racism etc, which was not a major issue in previous sporting endeavours.

Chiu ChunLing said...

French rioting in the streets in celebration?

I think that, for a nation of people slumbering in passivity as they watch their enemies slowly destroy them, a sudden reminder of the fact that they do still have physical ability to fight and win (if only at a sporting event) can have a profound influence on their willingness to remain utterly inactive.

Will that outburst of physical activity celebrating raw strength ever accomplish anything real?

Not so long as it is only called forth by watching football...including American football.

I admit I was profoundly pleased by the outcome events that have recently shaken the faith of Americans that diligent support of and interest in the NFL was an adequate expression of their love for their country. Disgusting as the events themselves were, the results were salutary...even if more limited than I had hoped (and it is far from certain they were).