August 15th, 2012

England v Italy (friendly, 2012)

EXEMPLARY ENGLAND HANG IGNOMINIOUS ITALY BY THEIR ANKLES FROM LAMPPOST 2-1

For many decades, I have been faithfully composing these reports, labouring over them for many hours as Seppings stands in attendance holding my inkpot, a substantial thing forged from 18 pounds of pewter. I have recorded many a triumph, including England’s 10-1 victory over the USA in 1950 (ignorte all misprints) and that fateful day in 1953 when we saw off the miserable Magyars 3-0, six of their goals having been retrospectively disallowed for communistic tendencies in their distribution of the ball and calculated subversion of our defensive policies, all of which came to light following the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I can safely say, however, that no game in England’s history was more keenly anticipated than this fixture against Italy, this titanic and vital clash of  toil versus tan, of sweat versus swarthiness, of elbow grease versus hair and rest-of-body grease.

As the so-called Olympiad has wended its tedious way to its conclusion, in which we have had to endure everything from our own Queen being hurled from a helicopter at the behest of a subversive National Health Service sympathiser to the national celebration of near-naked men diving into water together (a criminal offence until 1967), those of a proper stripe have itched for the resumption of the international footballing calendar. Worst of all, we have had to endure the usurping obscenity of “Team GB”, a footballing miscegenation against which I was pitted from the start. It is not that one is against the Union of England, Scotland, pliant Ireland and Wales in the Kingdom. We have fought men with blue painted faces and worse and more recently, men with beards to preserve this way of things. Let us be quite clear, however, as to its purpose. Wales and Scotland function as mountainous sandbags, a buffer in case of invasion from the Viking North or the formerly colonial West across the Atlantic. They are not our allies but essentially sub-human shields. Prince Charles has been personally appointed by Her Majesty to see that the Welsh know their place, the Duke of Edinburgh to see that the Scotchman knows his. In Olympic founder Pierre De Coubertin’s Ode To Sport he writes, “O Sport, you are Fecundity! You strive directly and nobly towards perfection of the race, destroying unhealthy seed and correcting the flaws which threaten its essential purity.” It seems that, this being the aim, involving the Welsh in any capacity amounts to an act of mongrel pollution.

This being so, it was inevitable that “Team GB”, unlike England, were fated to stumble at the knockout phase. Experience tells us without the likes of Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney it was always destined to be so.

Back, then, to sanity and an international fixture played just days before the start of the domestic season in neutral Switzerland, attended by two men and a St Bernard, with England wearing red shorts. How bitter and salty must Theo Walcott’s tears have been as he was forced to sit out what would have been the most important game of his life due to a bruised thigh and how redoubled his grief upon later discovering that the “bruise” had been carefully felt-tipped onto his leg by persons unknown.

The National Anthems told the essential story of the difference between the two teams. How our eleven men and true must have relished the opportunity to deliver their close-formation rendering of the tune, much practised in training, and ringingly audible in a near-empty stadium. As for the Italian anthem, which proceeded at the brisk pace of an occupying army beating a hasty retreat from Abyssinia under a hail of spears, it was  little more than a mute cry of surrender to the redshorts.

The game began at a cracking pelt, as some of England’s less familiar names set out their skills, a veritable Harvester Restaurant of footballing comestibles. Baines the coleslaw, Walker the boiled potatoes and Adam Johnson providing the Thousand Island dressing. There was Andy Carroll, too, the first horse to represent his country. Had he born Belgian, he would doubtless long ago have succumbed to the cleaver of some provincial restaurant’s chef. Key players were sadly absent tonight, including Terry, Gerrard and Lampard but England made a point, time and again of passing into the empty spaces they might have occupied in their honour.

Ultimately, this was a reminder not just of English supremacy but of football’s supremacy as a sport.  This was no handball, in which lithe, Swedish women dashed from one end of the court to another in a high-scoring display of manual acumen, or volleyball, with its improbable acrobatics and five-set intrigue. If the Olympics has taught us anything it is that football does not require such distractions, or excitement, or fun, or joy, for anything much to happen from one quarter of an hour to another. Football is football, much as England is England and so it will remain forever thus. Like the return of the senior manager to his desk after a lunch break, football and England are back; normal service has been resumed. Rejoice at that news.

June 24th, 2012

England v Italy (Euro 2012)

INCREDIBLE ENGLAND SHATTER ITALY INTO A THOUSAND TINY PRINCIPALITIES

The mystery of what has happened to Italy over the last two thousand years is one that has baffled historians and evolutionary theorists alike. Centuries ago, Italy was home to the Roman Empire, which stretched from Gaul to territorial holdings in Africa and Asia. They might even have conquered Britain had Boudicca not driven these short skirted invaders back into the channel, having first confiscated all their Latin books for the future education and benefit of English schoolboys. How did this noble imperium degenerate into the oilslicked, girl-man, caterwauling shambles of a nation set before England today, a nation whose cars are in almost all instances smaller than their mothers, in which it is necessary to enrol in the Mafia in order to acquire the services of a plumber, a nation whose economy consists of a people extorting, bribing, waiting tables upon one another? At the rate at which the Italians are un-evolving, at a species, there is conjecture among experts that by the year 2500, they will be struggling to be classified as chickens.

To say that Italy has had an undistinguished past hundred or so years is a gross understatement. Had it not been for Mr Joe Dolce at the tail of the century, which is saying very little indeed, the entire period would have been a washout. Their military record; proud conquerors of Abyssinia. This is the equivalent of boosting your self esteem by going out into the street and randomly beating up an elderly African man. Having done this many times, I can assure both Italy and the reader that it is no substitute for the rigours and rewards of empire and conquest. But then, war is war. As Mussolini found to his cost, it is no use writhing around on the floor hoping to be awarded a free kick by the War Crimes Tribunal when you are being overrun by the allies.

(Speaking of which, I stage an affecting ceremony in the local village each year in which, for the education of local children, I re-enact the defeat of the axis power Italy in World War II. Seppings, head shaved and pillows stuffed up shirt, plays Mussolini, whom I proceed to hang upside down from a lamppost, with the children encouraged to go at him, Mexican style, with sticks. It is both enjoyable and instructive, reinforcing in the youth a sense of what it takes to defeat those who stand in the way of Allied forces.)

It is as well that Italy were subsumed into the Euro, for prior to its introduction, the lire was in danger of becoming the world’s first homeopathic currency. But gross fiscal incompetence is the least of this nation’s worries. Italy is, the map shows us, the most effeminately shaped country in the world. It is in the shape of a woman’s knee length high heeled boot, about to slip in the cowpat that is Sicily and fall over comically. Appallingly, one of its principal cities is called Florence. To put this in context, this is the equivalent of our own Birmingham being called Jemima, or the city of Nottingham being known as Melanie. This would not stand. Newcastle, Beryl. You see my point.

In short, then, a blubbering, imploring, dough-throwing, volubly jabbering, nipple tweaking, pointlessly gesticulating, manbag wielding, gelato-guzzling, match fixing, power ballad murdering, Berlusconi electing, homophobic yet homosexual being, crocodile skinning, women-minding-their-own-business annoying, against themselves betting, octopus boiling, opera ruining, prostitutes for referees arranging, artichoke drowning, banker assassinating, flare throwing, jumper around neck draping, law of the land flouting, mother suckling, moped worshipping, building code violating, dog maltreating, still volubly jabbering, calf slaughtering, corruption-to-the-level-of-haute-cuisine-elevating, freely urinating, Corsica fearing, too many children having, far too old growing, olive oil lacquering, checked scarf around mouth wrapping, red trousers tolerating, horse abusing, Germany helping, as-a-result-of-the-television-stations-broadcasting-nothing-but-crap-outdoors-all-the-time-staying, goat from tree hanging, around-London-in-loud-groups-of-sixty-wandering, zucchini munching, Zucchero-producing, tight shiny suit wearing, caffeinated tar slurping shower of effluent in sub-human shape, and rotten rascals to boot.

The cheap viagra national anthems were the measure of our two nations and our utter disparity. We, the English, who in recent years have enjoyed dominion across the entire globe, the Italians who enjoy dominion over the cake trolley. Our own was brayed with unflinching, patriotic, rabid fervour, the force of which doubtless prompted a watching Prince Phillip, as it rang in his ears, to slide into his slippers, don his gown, and tiptoe across the corridor to demand, for the first time in 40 years, his conjugal rights with Her Majesty. The Italians’ puffed up, tinpot brass emission, by contrast, sounded like the sort of thing the Freedonia Marching Band would strike up prior to an inspection by Mr Groucho Marx.

There had been talk prior to the game that the Italians would be too frightened to emerge from their dressing room, or would only do so that they be allowed to come onto the pitch holding the hands not of the team escorts but their mothers. Eventually, however, they strode out, typically giving no sign of the drama that had most probably taken place minutes earlier.

The game began at a cracking pelt – so much so that it was almost necessary for a man waving a red flag to walk in front of both sides’ rapid advance up the pitch. Italy could be said to have dictated the game but dictatorships are the Italian way – England were Prime Ministerial by contrast. Indeed, it would not be too high praise to describe them as Cameronesque at times. Scott Parker proved his absolute complete and total utter usefulness as he reluctantly collected the ball from a throw-in deep in the Italian half, did a three point turn and then lost possession. In this respect he exhibited true English values of modesty and generosity. Some officious blighter put up a statistic suggesting that England had completed far fewer passes than the Italians but this is to overlook two things; that as any visitor to the Via Veneto will confirm, Italian passes are always obscenely high in number, while Gerrard’s perfectly placed deliveries, the equivalent of trying to sink a six yard putt by flying off a ramp Evel Knievel style on a motorcycle, crashing onto the green and then hurling a number six iron in the general direction of the ball, would have broken the needle on UEFA’s pass-ometer and therefore not have registered.

As Italy persisted with the dangerous Negro experiment Balotelli (it is no coincidence that his name rhymes with Mary Shelley), England sported with their opponents, even sarcastically inviting them into their own penalty box. Granted, there were miscommunications out on the left wing – Ashley Young at times appeared to be getting himself mixed up with Ashley Cole but this is an understandable error to which I am generally prone, so no blame should be attached to him. It has been an excellent idea for young Young to be allowed along to spectate at these games, running up and down the channel and observing proceedings – it will set him in good stead for future tournaments such as 2024 when he might have matured into some sort of a feckful, remotely functional non-liability.

With England’s dominance assured (even a draw would have seen us go through on the countback system, having won one more world war than the Italians), we could afford to enjoy watching Rooney put on an exhibition – he certainly is an exhibit of some sort, his entire body a future bequest to the Pitt Rivers museum in the making. As the poor Italian fans in the likes of Bologna crowded round the town radio in anxiety, we English could put our feet up in utter relaxation at England’s ability to advance inches at a time, for seconds at a time without once losing possession, even allowing Andy Carroll (an excellent animal, owned by an American consortium) to enjoy the going at a canter. Mr Mark Lawrenson, listening to whom is by no means like having the pub bore at your elbow as you watch the match, provided excellent commentary. “Health and safety, no doubt,” he quipped at one point as a stretcher was brought onto the pitch. I laughed so hard I defecated, bloodily. Come the final whistle and England whimsically agreed, as they have in the past, to put on a penalty exhibition, strictly for fun, in which it is considered good form to allow the opposition to win, and go on to enjoy some chimpanzee’s tea party of celebration.

The game having gone to extra time, and myself in urgent requirement of an extended toilet break,  I shall allow Seppings to conclude the formalities of this report, which will essentially consist of summarising remarks regarding the semi-final and perhaps a precis of tonight’s Shipping Forecast. He will then submit it for publication.

FOR CUNT’S SAKE, ENGLAND, YOU TECHNICAL FUCKING TROGLODYTES, THERE ARE FUCKING LABORATORY FUCKING GORILLAS WITH ELECTRODES ATTACHED TO THEIR GONADS WHO’VE FUCKING COTTONED ON QUICKER THAN YOU GORMLESS, BUTTOCKWRINKLED FLESHLUMPS OF INCOMPREHENDING FUCKING AGONY WHY WE FUCK UP AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! DON’T FUCKING CHARGE AT THE FUCKING BALL LIKE IT’S A FUCKING SASSENACH AND YOU’RE FUCKING MEL GIBSON IN BRAVEHEART, JUST LEARN TO STEER THE CUNT THREE YARDS IN THE DIRECTION OF THE FUCKING WHITE SHIRTED FUCKING MOUTHBREATHING FUCKING MILLIONAIRE STANDING FUCKING ADJACENT TO YOU! KNOW WHY WE KEEP FUCKING LOSING ON PENALTIES? IT’S NOT BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING WRITTEN IN THE FUCKING STARS! NOTHING IS WRITTEN IN THE FUCKING STARS, YOU SMEGMA-WITTED, INEPTLY PROPITIATING, STONEAGE FUCKING FATALISTS! THE REASON YOU FUCK UP AT PENALTIES ISN’T THE UNIVERSE FUCKING WITH ENGLAND’S HEAD, IT’S CAUSALLY FUCKING CONNECTED TO THE FACT THAT, AS YOU DEMONSTRATE IN GAME AFTER GAME AFTER GAME, YEAR IN, YEAR OUT, YOU CAN’T FUCKING KICK A BALL STRAIGHT BECAUSE YOU’VE STILL GOT THE WORDS “GET RID!” ECHOING IN YOUR FUCKING EARS FROM WHEN YOU WERE SOME LITTLE WHELP RUNNING AROUND AN UNDER 7’S GAME IN FUCKING 1992 WITH YOUR MULLET-HEADED, PUCE-FACED, PANIC-STRICKEN DADS SCREAMING AT YOU IN SOME FUCKING ENGLISH, SEX-FAMISHED FRENZY! EVEN WHEN YOU TAKE A FUCKING PENALTY, THE WORDS “GET RID” ARE PUMPING ROUND YOUR FUCKING BLOOD-ADDLED HEADS! YOU FUCK UP BECAUSE YOU’RE ENGLISH! A NATION  OF PINCH-FACED, CLARKSON-IDOLISING, HOSEPIPE BAN-RESENTING, GNOME HOARDING, CUL-DE-SAC-INVENTING, GREGGS-ENRICHING, SHIT DECISION-MAKING, BLOTCHY PACK OF RUNTCUNTS WHO’D STILL BE RIDING AROUND IN SQUARE-WHEELED WAGONS SHITTING IN YOUR FRONTYARDS IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR THE FOREIGNERS YOU DESPISE SHOWING YOU THE VERY BASIC FUCKING ART OF PLUMBING! WHILE ENGLAND IS ENGLAND THIS WILL NEVER, EVER, FUCKING END, EVER!

June 19th, 2012

England v Ukraine (Euro 2012)

INIMITABLE ENGLAND FEED ROTTEN VEGETABLES OF UKRAINE TO THE PIGS 1-0

What is there to be said about the Ukraine, which sits like an unsightly, radioactive cowpat in the centre of Europe? The name, it seems, translates literally as “Our country”, which is of very little help to the postman (“Our street”? “Our house”?) and doubtless accounts for their traditional import deficit. Ironic, also, since for all but five of the hundreds of years since they slithered into being in the shadow of the Urals, it has not been “their” country at all, but the property of everyone from the Russians to the Mongols to the Germans – any passing power that fancied having a canter on the nation, essentially. They are peculiarly disposed to famine, suffering them on a once a decade basis at one point in the recent past (1922 and 1932), much of this due to their baffling refusal to take on board such English traditions as High Tea, which staves off the hunger pangs that can occur between luncheon and the evening dinner gong. But what can be said of a country which regards cabbage as a breakfast dish, rather than a comestible to be patiently awaited until the evening? Small wonder these mass outbreaks of periodic peckishness set in.

Ukraine is said to have enjoyed its Golden Age in the 11th century which represents a crass but typical error – peaking too early rather than getting going from about the 13th or 14th century onwards and steadily improving, as has been the English way. This was evident in the way this fixture panned out tonight, more of which in due course. For a long time, its history consisted of one leather-faced ethnic horde running at another across the Steppes brandishing scythes, for no other apparent reason than to make the centuries pass more quickly. And so, in a tide of blood and Borscht they did, till recent times which culminated in Chernobyl, which, I believe it is now commonly accepted, was caused by locals attempting to fire up the reactor on pig’s droppings.

There was controversy leading into the game, owing to some trifling attempt on behalf of the local
Grand Poobah to tame a troublesome shrew. No doubt this provided perfectly adequate excuse for Mr Cameron to give this benighted republic of war crime fugitives and green-glowing, two-headed crones arguing over who gets to wear the scarf a wide berth. Better a country supper in Oxfordshire than a breakfast of cabbage in an asbestos-infested hotel in which the Geiger counter functions dually as an alarm clock.

There had been debate also as to whether to rest key players for the quarter final – perhaps simply make do with Joe Hart. One could imagine him easily dealing with all that the Ukrainians lobbed at him, indeed even capping a fine, gum-chewing performance by bouncing a lofted clearance off the head of a Ukrainian in the 89th minute, then going up the other end, lofting the resulting corner high into the box than trotting into the six yard area as it descended to head home. If anyone believed he could do such a thing, Joe Hart does. This would enable the other ten players to have day off, take in the local sights and attractions such as the National Grain Barn, the Fungi Decontamination Farm  and the Kiev Otter Abbatoir.

The National Anthems were the measure of the disparity of our two nations – the English, who had the tactical sense to postion themselves discreetly behind France in order to avoid being occupied by the Soviets; the Ukrainians, who, in their bovine inertia and insensibility, did not. Our own was roared with customary exuberance, as if to stress to God that the Queen be saved – not parried over the bar, not fisted away, but saved, saved, dear Lord, with both hands. The Ukrainians, by contrast, intoned their own in a manner that reminded of the drowning throes of drunken Volga boatmen.

The game began at a cracking pelt, with the Ukrainians showing defensive naivety by leaving their own half almost entirely unoccupied for the first ten or 15 minutes. There were worries that John Terry might be embarrassed by the Ukrainian frontline but these were unfounded – it has become clear over this past year or so that John Terry is incapable of embarrassment. There were other performances that glowed harder than a fish in a Ukrainian canal – James Milner, for instance, was a much-needed credit to the Yorkshire race, occupying whatever space in which he found himself 100%. Had England chosen to play with any sort of midfield, as opposed to Scott Parker, one wonders how it might have been personified. The ultimate English player must have elements of Lampard (who made his usual contribution this evening), the similar “ard” quality of a Gerrard, and, of course, the non-stressed, syllabic “y” of a Terry or a Rooney. We have a name, then, for such a player, the epitome of England: Lardy.

There had been concerns about racialism in the Ukraine and so it proved – the racialism of the worst sort, that directed against the white English, we, who as Kipling put it, carry the Burden and are therefore the least deserving of pillory. Hence, every time English players like Rooney, Gerrard and Milner retained possession of the ball, boos rang out – though for some reason, they never lasted long. Hoardings around the ground called for “RESPECT”, and this, as English victims of racialism is all we ask – respect for our achievements in home plumbing, current-based cake recipes and for teaching a large, dusky portion of the world how to play cricket, asking nothing in return, save for  sole rights to their mineral deposits in perpetuity. Cameras at the game selectively picked out Ukrainians who looked almost human – smiling, comely women, excited small boys, family groups – but we know that the vast, unseen majority in the stands were a seething mass of vile, hirsute trolls and wolf mutants, forest dwellers and fire-fearers who feast on the blood of travelling English bible salesmen. England did well to keep their composure.

Come the second half, and England were swiftly into the lead, as Rooney made good advantage of his hairpiece to head home the winning goal. A lesser man would have settled for a draw, for male pattern baldness – not Mr Rooney. Theo Walcott entered the field, and England players indulged in the game of “Let’s Not Pass To Theo”, uncannily similar to that played by myself and a few other fellows at boarding school in the 1870s, at the expense of one Theo Charmleigh-Watts, when playing footer in the quad. There is always one such boy. Unfortunately, the character- building tendencies our game instilled in him were never realised, as he hanged himself by his own evening shirt in 1899. Ashley Young and Danny Wellbeck certainly contributed a great deal more than “Fuck” and “All” between them. Two years ago, a clear goal for Frank Lampard unspotted by the referee made for the unarguable case for goalline technology. Tonight, a similar incident involving John Terry convinced that such technology would represent a gross breach of ancient footballing traditions which have abided, unmolested since international football began in 1872.

Tonight’s victory should make Roy Hodgson feel proud – proud, as kitman and “down to earth” “bloke” to have the privilege of washing and handwringing the shorts and undershorts of men like John Terry and Ashley Cole. One has the strange feeling that, like Paul the Octopus, he is beginning to take on the properties of a lucky talisman, that in some way he is making some sort of difference. No doubt, in due course, the feeling will pass . . .

June 15th, 2012

England v Sweden (Euro 2012)

ABLE ENGLAND CONFRONT DISMAL SWEDES WITH FUTILITY AS A FOOTBALLING FORCE, NATION, PEOPLE

It was a Eurovision Song Contest that provided the cue for the Portuguese, unwisely, to overthrow their paternalistic leader, a Mr Salazar. It could be remarked of Portugal that they were born, that night, as a modern nation. The same also can be said of the Swedes – same year, same competition. They won, with a piece of phonetic nonsense entitled “Wadalu”, thereby making their very first mark on history. Prior to that, little or nothing is known of Sweden (mistakenly spelled as “Sverige” by the locals), though some settlements and stone dwellings there can be traced back as far as the 1950s. Even today, there is uncertainty as to where, precisely Sweden is located on the map.

Today, the Swedes are noted for a handful of things. The first is their national dish. Fond of their meat but fonder, it seems, of their cattle, they cannot bring themselves to commit their livestock to the abbatoir, and so instead, snip from them what they regard as the tastiest part of their anatomy, the testicles. It makes for quite the tableau to envisage them, of an evening at their smallholdings, chewing away on their meatballs as their eunuch bulls look on.

The murder rates of Sweden are low, never an impressive measure of a country’s virility. Indeed, there has only been one murder in the country’s history, that of their Prime Minister, Olaf Palme. Unfortunately, lacking as they do the detective skills that are the sole redeeming feature of their near-neighbours the Danes, the case has never been solved.

A nation of gonad-chomping, bungling Watsons, then, we can thus far deduce. At least, buy viagra however, their numbers are relatively low. They are kept so by the government, who, in a state-sponsored scheme have fostered a cinematic style, practised by the likes of Mr Ingmar Bergman, so bleak and abysmally despondent as to encourage a healthy rate of suicide among the adult populace on an annual basis. This “self-culling” scheme has worked well; what a shame that the French, who instead, keep their people excessively alive and numerous with the jolly capers of M. Jacques Tati, do not adopt something similar.

Which brings us to our next point. We have established scientifically in previous dispatches that the French smell far too much. The Swedes, by contrast, smell far too little. They smell of beechwood and neutrality. They are practically odourless. One ought to smell a little, of something; as ever, the English have found the happy medium. There is about us a tangible but pleasing mustiness, typically a redolence of oak, tweed, decanted sherry, boiled carrots, baking soda, spotted dick, faithful hound, teak, silverware polishing agent and a subtle hint of dried discharge.

With the fixture delayed, the Lord God Almighty having chosen earlier to rain down bolts of lightning and thunder on the Ukrainians and the French for daring to pit themselves against England in the same group, The National Anthems were struck up, a further measure of the disparity between our two nations – we who have built up an Empire through thrift, global commerce and an uncanny ability to kick a day’s work out of the backside of distant, lazy natives, they, the Swedes, who have somehow found a way whereby we pay them for us to construct our own furniture. Our own anthem was brayed with customary insistence; every man jack of the England team bellowing as if to convey to God that when we bid him to save the Queen, this is not so much a suggestion as an order, directly from the FA. The Swedish national anthem . . . well, in a disgusting oversight, there is, technically, no such thing as a Swedish National Anthem according to their constitution. Something along the lines of “Can you hear the drums, Fernando?” would, therefore, have easily fitted the bill. Instead, they opted for this bilge, doubtless composed by a chinless little man with a droopy moustache after a trip to the cinema.

Despite the fixture being essentially over and decided at this point, many spectators chose to stay and witness the concluding formality of the game, which began at a cracking pelt – an especially cracking pelt, in fact. None of this “settling on the ball and thinking about what you’re going to do with it” balderdash favoured by some of our more morbidly cerebral opponents. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young looked on as the action unfolded. Even in the midst of the fray, captain Steven Gerrard still thought to fire a few balls into the crowd as a gesture of goodwill to the locals, for them to take home and keep, sell or eat. Gary Neville, former England right back, has travelled with the team in an immobile but advisory capacity to the younger players; John Terry is also performing the same function. With typical tactical English sophistication, Joe Hart was given a free role in the England six yard box. He in no way exuded the air of a cocky “everyone-look-at-this-bit-of-gum-I’m-chewing” twat who is karmically building towards the most colossal goalkeeping gaffe of all time, possibly involving dropped shorts as well as a dropped ball.

England’s efforts were inevitably rewarded with a goal, Andy Carroll leaping with the aplomb that has served him so well in the past at Liverpool, at Becher’s Brook, to nod home. He had every right to look pleased with himself, sliding genitals first camera-ward – there would be an extra sugarlump in his nosebag at half time.

Come the second half and Glen Johnson added to England’s tally with a second goal, though, owing to some blunder with the electronic scoreboard, this was mistakenly awarded to the Swedes. They themselves added to the confusion, appearing to think that this was the net they themselves should be scoring into, as Mellberg, a fellow who apparently uses his own chin as a doormat, headed in what was counted as a second for the Swedes. A farcical misunderstanding but England were unruffled. One only had to witness Scott Parker, the way he would gather up the ball in the centre circle in a promising position, dribble around two or three imaginary plastic cones, then pass back to his full-back. He vindicated the decision to travel to this tournament and play without any sort of functioning fucking midfield (the “Lampard Manoeuvre”).

Kitman and groundskeeper Roy Hodgson looked on from the touchline with concern, as if to say, “’Ooever did these markings wants shooting, proper botch job.” It is an amusing fact, like one of those head waiters who can do all kinds of whistling tricks, that the fellow Hodgson is fluent in several languages. This must be of assistance as he scoots about town looking for pots of dubbin and detergent for the dressing room!

Naturally, England prevailed; full list of scorers, Carroll, Walcott, Wellbeck. For obvious reasons that is only partially ideal but no matter – this was every inch an English victory and just as well. For if UEFA had seen fit to award Sweden the tie on the basis of those two mis-awarded goals, the youth of England, on fire, would have risen up and ransacked every IKEA store in the Kingdom, breaking in and dismantling the items on sale, reducing them to piles of plywood and screws, to be reassembled from scratch by some luckless blighter or blighters. One can only imagine the misery.

June 11th, 2012

England v France (Euro 2012)

EXCELLENT ENGLAND FORCE FEARFUL FRENCH TO FALL BACKWARDS ONTO OWN SWORD

The renegade nation of France is said to lie just 26 miles away, across the Channel. And, certainly, it is a tribute to the self-purifying properties of English chalk that the White Cliffs of Dover are not  slightly off-white, given their proximity to the rancid pungency that is the Gallic wont. However, this is only the unhappy state of affairs if you set your face East. Set it West, towards the Atlantic and beyond, and France is a much more congenial 24,875 miles away. We have been frequent foes, we and the garlic-chomping Dracula-repellers the French, and have all but invariably come out on top. Indeed, had King Harold learned to duck back in the 11th century, we would have a 100% record against them.

They say that the only good Frenchman is a dead Frenchman but even this is untrue. Given their hygienic tendencies in life, in death their stench would be even more frightful. Unless I had a pet budgerigar with a terminal heart ailment in dire need of a transplant, I would have no use whatsoever for a dead Frenchman. One does not wish to resort to the commonplace newspaper cliché of referring to the Second World War when writing football match reports – the ease with which we won that campaign makes for an insulting comparison with the altogether hardier, warrior-like efforts of John Terry and his men. However, it is appropriate to say that when all that it took for France to fall was for their border sentries to spot through their binoculars what turned out to be half a dozen leathered trousered tourists from Cologne on a mountain hike advancing in their direction, whereupon they lay down their arms en masse and put their hands on their heads, it is small wonder we made such mincemeat of them tonight.

Touching further on the topic of the French and their odour; this is no casual insult but a fact, rooted in solid, scientific research. In 1948, as a senior member of the Diplomatic Corps, I had the misfortune to reside for a week at a Parisian hotel. By way of an experiment, I sent out my man Seppings for a bar of soap, a precious commodity in those days of rationing – to procure it, he was forced to sell his body. Knowing the French aversion to detergents, I left it on a coffee table in the lobby, in plain sight, wondering if it would attract any interest, with a view to returning to the table later that afternoon to see if it was still there. Sure enough, I had only been back in my room ten minutes when a hotel clerk knocked at my door, soap in hand and said, “Excuse me monsieur – ah believe you ‘ave left zis downstairs.” Experiment completed, case proven. Filthy, filthy people.

The case was further reinforced by the clothback book of my nursery days, entitled Timmy And Pierre (A Guide To Deportment And Breeding For Very Young Gentlemen Of The Empire). On the left hand page was the rosy-cheeked, eight years old Timmy, who, the embroidered text properly told us was a) Polite b) Punctual c) Kind to his spaniel d) Scrubbed his face well e) Patriotic f) Did not associate with the knives and boots boy g) Attentive to his governess. On the right hand page was eight years old Pierre, who, we learned was a) Rude b) Uncouth c) French d) Oversexed e) Rank f) Drunk g) A collaborator.

The question was, what French team would turn up this evening? The one prone to strut and blunder about the pitch before losing 1-0 to The Christmas Islands, as has so often been the case, or the one that doesn’t turn up at all because the team got into a heated argument on the coach about the best route out of Paris, inadvertently ending up in the aptly named Toulouse (twinned with the small Welsh town of Alwys-Cochytup). Certainly, given their solitary post-war military exploit, it is clear that they would have rather have been facing a team from New Zealand, playing in recyclable sandals.

The National Anthems were the measure of our two nations; we, who when we see an onion, pickle it, rather than base our entire national identity around it, they who only remove their socks to tread grapes. Our own was bellowed with sub patriotic verve that upon hearing it, Prince Phillip’s bladder infection would most certainly have cleared up instantaneously, allowing him to urinate as merrily and painlessly as a small Belgian boy. The French’s puffed up Marseillaise, meanwhile, had one pining for a giant cartoon English foot to descend and squelch it.

The game began at a cracking pelt; England glowing with the perspiration of honest effort, the French coated in beads of anxiety sweat. The Republicans represented a risible force; Ribery, raising the question of who was manning the bells at Notre Dame in his absence, looking as ever like some early, botched French laboratory attempt to create a facsimile Gary Neville; Debuchy (what, Erik Shatie wasn’t available for selection?) woefully ineffectual. That is all that can be said about the French.

England, by contrast, surged goalward like cocks thrust. James Milner certainly wasn’t as extraneous as a new branch of Greggs in a Yorkshire shopping precinct, as an early, near-miss proved. Joe Hart’s Mancunian self-confidence certainly wasn’t the equivalent of Liam Gallagher being loudly convinced that his latest album was the finest release since Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Inevitably, we scored first, Lescott overcoming both the French centre back and being named after a Dolly Parton song to head home.

As is the current trend, there was much “tweeting” about England’s performance tonight. I had no idea what this meant, until I heard Mr Jamie Carragher’s half-time talk, in which he tweeted in a high Scouse register, unintelligibly but enthusiastically for several minutes.

From hereon after, we controlled the game. The sheer extent of our presence in midfield was epitomised by Frank Lampard; what a pity his natural partner Scott Parker was absent. As for Gerrard, there has been flippant talk of his Hollywood passes; tonight, as one corner symbolised, which sailed nervously into the relieved hands of the French goalkeeper, his were Pinewood passes – straightforward, untroubling, quintessentially English. The French character, humiliatingly, is symbolised by that doyen of the silver “flickers” Gerard Depardieu; our own, by contrast, is epitomised by our redoubtable, longstanding midfield, Gerrard/Lampardieu, so to speak.

And so, the game ended, marred only by the performance of the referee, whose bias towards the French was palpable. In England, when we foul, we kick honest clumps out of our opponents, which can be measured on the old Imperial scale – a half pound of calf here, a pound of thigh there. Not so the French, masters of the niggly, pinchy, cowardly little infractions, measurable only in foreign grams. There was also the small matter of the ball landing in the England net on one occasion, although goalkeeper Hart was clearly not ready for the shot; doubtless this will be overturned without protest from the French. The alternative is that Harfleur be put under siege by our own, latterday Prince Harry, in which case, even the womenfolk will not be safe, for the difference between Frenchmen and women is indistinguishable to the English eye. When we breach the ramparts, anything with a moustache will be considered fair game.