Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's happening again

Remember the World Cup? Remember how we all enjoyed this vibrant international spectacle, and didn’t complain at all. From the very first, hesitant moment, to crescendo of well-organised joy at the tournament’s climax. Let me take you back to those times.

It was the heady days of 2007. Anything seemed possible. Religious fanatics controlled a superpower. An ex-superpower was killing spies on the street. And sub-prime mortgages were worth more than a stapler.

Throughout the course of the cricket World Cup, I spent my time talking about England (and dancing cricketers). I repeatedly made one point about their approach: OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE PLAYING AT?

Their approach was this: “See off the first few dangerous twenty overs, and then we’ll consolidate for the next twenty. Perhaps we’ll see where we are after that.”

Against South Africa, we scored four runs in ten overs.

Remember Jamie Dalrymple? Do you remember opening with Ed Joyce? ED JOYCE!

Not even the person that Ed Joyce murdered with an Ed Joyce name badge would remember who Ed Joyce is.*

But, poor old whathisface was subject to the ECB’s wonder strategy of playing for time. Obviously, we got completely humiliated. That goes without saying. We’re English. But there are degrees of loss.

And the inept, spineless, moronic, self-inflicted, thick-headed losses of the World Cup were particularly hard to endure. And now, once again, familiar concerns are returning. You look at the Englanders, and they look at you, blinking and red-skinned, clueless. Utterly clueless. There are, quite literally, without clue. Well, they might have one clue between them, but that’s a rubbish clue that erroneously leads them to Professor Plum.

AKA: Grauieame Swann.

*On further reflection, this victim might struggle to remember quite a few things.

(For those economists, stats geeks, and other bored people, check out the OECD’s new data mapping tool. It’s surprisingly fun. Now I know that New Zealand’s North Island is richer (in per capita terms) than all Australian states, whereas, the South Island is poorer than the lot of them. Interesting that. The IMF one is also worth a check out – although no where near as fun.)

(As another aside, I went to watch the football last night. I don’t normally do this, but England was playing Germany in Berlin, and I felt I should make an effort. So, off I went, with German in tow, to an “Irish” “pub” in central Berlin.

There, I found England.

England in all its glimmering glory. A mirror to the world’s best parts. The parts that sing about wars long since past, about enemies now crippled with anxiety. Parts that try to chat up German women with the worlds Spatch-chen zie Anglaise? Parts that, when you are amused by the loud sweary scousers and huge St. George’s Cross emblazoned with the words like “Darlington” will challenge you with a sharp “Wot yaw smilin’ at?” It’s astonishing how I could live without this cultural assurance, without these people that make us all feel so proud.)


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