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June 15, 2006

Christie Davies explains why he hopes that England will suffer some humiliating defeats in the World Cup

Posted by Christie Davies

Christie Davies shares his hopes for the World Cup. Needless to say, the sentiments expressed are those of Christie Davies, not those of the Social Affairs Unit, its Trustees, Advisors or Director.

I had forgotten about the hateful world cup, until last Saturday. I drove into the centre of town for the first time in years to buy a suitcase; you can not fit a suitcase on a push-bike. To my surprise there was no traffic and many parking spaces. I was the only "white man" in the town centre. All the others were British Asians or recent African immigrants speaking languages strange to me. I was tempted to go up to the lone white figure at the other end of the street and say, "Dr Livingstone I presume", but thought better of it.

Then I came to a bar full of drunken, roaring white trash with faces painted with the cross of St George gawping at a screen and I realised there was a football match in which Engerland (as in Wir fahren gegen) were playing. Even in the local branch of the HSBC bank the customers were watching a silent television in the little waiting area beyond the cash dispensers. The name Bobadilla from Ben Jonson came up in writing at the foot of the screen and I then gathered that the match was against Paraguay. I exclaimed "Viva Bobar-dee-ya" and wished them all "Buenos tardes". Back in the street an oddly neat man in a suit stopped me and asked me something. ¿qué sé yo?, I replied. Blow me if he didn't turn out to be a Mormon missionary, who offered to fetch his Hispanic companion. Since I do not speak Spanish, I muttered that I had to get back to Asunción and did a runner.

I hastened to drive my suit-case home before the animals emerged from the bars, angry because they had lost or in vicious celebration of victory. I was relieved not to be of South Asian appearance, since Britain's Asians have the good sense not to like football. This in turn fuels the hatred of the England football supporters who are nature's racists. Besides they had just been watching a team of meztisos playing against England and are ignorant enough to mistake a "Paki" for a Paraguayan. So much for Burnley.

I remembered the former Polish Prime Minister , Paderewski's comments to Lord Curzon when the League of Nations was debating where Poland's eastern border should be:

Paderewski: If we do not get Vilnius, Minsk and Lviv, my people will be so angry that they will go out into the streets and attack the Jews.

Curzon: And what if we do give you what you are asking for?

Paderewski: My people will be so happy that they will get drunk and go out into the streets and attack the Jews.

As I headed for the car park, twenty year old men with forty year old beer bellies were spilling into the streets. These thugs with porcine faces and tattooed shaven heads were looking for a fight much as they were in Liverpool, Manchester and Canary Wharf. I feared that some innocent action on my part might provoke them. When I was younger and could run faster, I would have been happy to goad them, but now I am too slow and too fearful of being knifed or battered to death by lumpen scum.

In the days when I could run and change direction quickly round corners, I once secretly took a World War I German helmet to work on a day when England were playing Germany in the evening. I worked late, long after security had locked the massive tough doors of the building, until the time when I knew the mob would be coming away from the bar where they had watched the match and past our building. Then I went to a high floor several corridors away from my office, put on the coal-scuttle helmet and jeered at them Teutonically from a great height. They screamed and grimaced and capered like angry chimpanzees. I withdrew quickly and sprinted down a series of stairs and across long corridors to my own office, locked myself in behind two doors and dropped down on the floor, so there could be no profile to be seen through the window. I lay there, recovered my breath and laughed silently.

I wish I could say that the football mob had tried to storm the building, at the other end of which one of the management was noisily screwing his predatory secretary on the floor. They used to sound like mating hedgehogs. In the day she looked like Snow White's mother in a cat suit. However, the hooligans didn't, possibly because on that side the building was set above a set of concrete steps, so they could not batter the door down. Imagine their xenophobic rage at having Fritz appear in their own territory to remind them of their inferiority. I suppose in Germany itself I could have been prosecuted for glorifying Wilhelmine militarism.

Curiously, my experience of this football-empty town was not new. When even younger, I had lived in one of the grubbier, seedier bits of Islington. After working at home for much of the day on a Saturday, I had gone out in the afternoon to the supermarket to buy some food. I emerged into a world consisting entirely of women. It seemed as if all the other men in London had been abducted by Martians and that opportunity was hammering. But there in the supermarket was a lone male figure, the butcher. He was waving his chopper around and using obscene language. Then I saw that in his other hand he was holding a radio close to his ear. I could hear a crowd chanting Arse an' ole. It was a thing called a cup final and it would seem that a local team was not doing as well as the butcher wanted. The management and the butcher's union had decided that women do not have the strength, dexterity and spatial intelligence to wield a chopper without losing a pinkie and so he alone had had to come into work while his mates watched this nonsense on the television. For him radio was the next best thing, though it may well have interfered with his cleaving and his cleaving with the radio.

From that day onwards I held women in high intellectual regard. Until that is the day of the great Royal Wedding, the televised nuptials between poor Charles and the now dead Diana. On that day the women of every household in the country plonked themselves in front of the television, for a day as moronic as a football match. I was in Swansea and my brother and I took my three year old nephew to walk on the beach. The entire beach, several miles of it, was full of men, looking after male youngsters. The men looked fed up but the boys knew it was a special occasion. For them it was a "Thank you, G-d for not having made me a woman" sort of day.

Much more recently when I was driving back from a holiday hiking in the Sierra de Grados to Madrid airport, I stopped at a restaurant for an evening meal and like the other men there looked forward to watching the bull-fighting. It is in some ways even better on television as you watch the intense concentration on the matador's face as he lines up his gaze along his sword for the final plunge or you see how close the horns come to him. He is a skilled actor in a play and a brave man putting his life on the line, not like the moronic ball-kickers of Real Madrid CF. Outside the bull-ring in Madrid there is a statue of Alexander Fleming. Will there be a statue of a toe surgeon outside the Santiago Bernabéu stadium?

Suddenly the oily manager switched the channel over to a Spanish royal wedding because the women wanted it and nowadays in Spain it is the women who decide everything. Rarely have I regretted so much my grossly inadequate knowledge of the Spanish language and my inability to expostulate in it. If it had been football I would have rejoiced at the local men's anger but to miss the bullfight was a national disgrace for that great people.

Many will say that I want England to lose and lose badly because I am not English. That has nothing to do with it. I am overjoyed when the Welsh rugby team suffer defeat at the hands of England. In Wales the yobbery play rugby, so I want England to win. It is always good to learn from the news that the Welsh have lost and best of all that they have lost to England.

My aunt from Pontarddulais, who became a school-teacher in respectable Brixton, used to tell me of the shame she felt when the ruffian Welsh supporters came up for the day to support their team at Twickenham. If she saw them on the underground in their Dai-caps and smelly socks, she would fall silent lest her accent betray her link with these awful people. I once did a piece of thinking work gratis for a Cardiff businessman as a favour to a fellow countryman in difficulty. He was grateful and some time later phoned me and told me he had a spare ticket for the England-Wales rugby international in the then Cardiff Arms Park. I had to invent a previous engagement. He would have had to pay me at least £500 to go through the dreadful blend of boredom and contempt for others that I would have experienced had I gone.

I am proud to say that I have never as an adult watched either a soccer or a rugby match, either on the spot or on television. It is not my revered England that I hate. It is the place of football in English life. Likewise I have great affection for my very own Wales, the only country where even the plebs are interesting and articulate but on rugby days they degenerate into idiocy. What is worst in both countries is the way in which cultured middle-class people feel they have to defer to and even join in these horrid spectacles. The classlessness of rugby in Wales has long engendered this but in England the degeneration is recent.

So, it is not that I am a disgruntled immigrant who has failed the Tebbit test. On the contrary as a lover of history I rejoice in the great English victories at Flodden, Dunbar and Culloden when that most unEnglish and anti-English of peoples, the unpatriotic Gordon Brown's lot, got a pasting. But when it comes to the muddied oafs at the goal, I hope England lose and that the Scots thoroughly enjoy England's shame. A "German evening" at a Scottish pub watching the television as England's footballers are crushed by their superior opponents must be a wonderful occasion. Here's tae us and Hoch der Kaiser! If I did not hate football so much, I would long ago have gone to Scotland with my German helmet and rejoiced with the Jocks.

Christie Davies, who was born in Cheam in Surrey, is the author of Dewi the Dragon, Talybont Y Lolfa, 2006, an epic tale of the red dragon who defeated St George.

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It's nil-nil between England and T&T at half time, looks like the Prof will get his wish....

Posted by: jim mcqueen at June 15, 2006 05:59 PM

I am a football fan (and until recently a Manchester United season ticket holder). However, last Saturday afternoon (when England played Paraguay) I played golf on a near empty course and last night did some hassle free shopping during the boring match with Trinidad and Tobago. Football is over hyped and very often over rated. But this has the hallmarks of a great tournament. The Ivory Coast team is a revelation and South Korea v Togo and Mexico v Iran are remarkably exotic encounters. The writer is far too snobbish. There is an unpleasant underbelly attached to football, but incidents of violence are extremely low and more women are interested in watching the games than I can ever remember. At its best, the World Cup is bringing people in this country and across the world together. It's just shame that England's performances have been so poor. And on a nice sunny day, it is far better to be outside enjoying the good weather than stuck inside with the curtains drawn.

Posted by: michael at June 16, 2006 09:18 AM

I read recently, in one of the newspapers, that there is now mandatory IQ testing for drivers. Those in the lowest 25% account for a vast majority of accidents, so they are being made to display warning signs, rather like those shown by people learning to drive. The note said that the new warnings were white cloth flags with red crosses.

Posted by: s masty at June 16, 2006 03:08 PM
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