Posts Tagged ‘National Anthems’

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Pre-World Cup 2010 Friendly Report: England v Japan


Much as the word “gay” has acquired in modern times a disgusting connotation foreign to its original, charming meaning, so it is with the word “nip”. This was once the loveliest of English words with a variety of uses; “Nip and tuck”, “Nip in the bud”, “Nip in the air” and so forth. Now, however, it has been effectively and brutally colonised by our oriental foes the Japanese. The same goes for the word “Johnny”. Once, one merrily trilled the word in such ditties as “When Johnny comes marching home”. Now, once again, in conjunction with the word “Nip”, it has an altogether less innocent interpretation. “Johnny Nip” now brings to mind a wholly unpleasant mental image, the image of those who have pillaged our very language in order to signify themselves.

It was for this gross act of yellow appropriation, to say nothing of countless other crimes, that we would exact our revenge upon the opponents ranged against us on the field today. Having been soundly and properly thrashed in World War II, during the 1950s their numbers dwindled to the point in the 1960s there was but one oriental left in the world, a certain Mr Bert Kwouk. Since then, however, it would appear that they have been breeding again – there were moments today when they appeared to be all over the pitch. (Nowadays, I believe, their principal export is pencil sharpeners which double up as transistor radios – they blare out the chimes of some benighted Japanese crooner singing “Rock Around The Crock” upon use). This is not to the good. One refrains from stigmatising a nation according to their perceived characteristics but in all reasonableness, they cannot possibly expect to be taken seriously with names and eyes like that. Exhibit A: A Prime Minister called Takeshita. Prime Ministers with names that do not readily present the opportunity for anagrams alluding to obscene bodily functions versus Prime Ministers with names that do. This was one of the many things at stake in this vital fixture.

The brutal privations endured by British POWs in Japanese internment camps during the recent great campaign are fresh in the minds of an older generation, less so the younger. It is to this end that each year, I invite local children to my estate and stage for them a re-enactment of the horrors visited upon so many of our boys. My manservant Seppings plays the role of the unfortunate POW, while I, in a far more onerous role, play his Japanese tormenter. It is my grim duty to descend into the oriental mindset and devise punishments which Seppings must undergo for the edification of the children. There they sit, cross-legged and watch as, barking mock-Japanese imprecations, I force Seppings to sit on a bamboo spike, rub his genitals with unguents and preserves which attract a nearby nest of wasps, eat his own dog and, in a particularly callous twist on a chastisement mentioned in reports passim, bury him upside down in sand for several hours with his feet, rather than his head, exposed to the baking sun.

The match took place in Austria, a country which has produced and exported many fine citizens and born leaders of men. The lip duly curled all the more as the Japanese lined up alongside the English, as if daring to presume parity. Our own National Anthem was delivered with customary aplomb, with Stuart Pearce nudging mascot Signor Capello to remind him to stand to attention in the dugout and, for Heavens sake, try not to look too Italian. The Japanese infliction, by contrast, an inconclusive, drawn out dirge doubtless sketched out on the side of a teapot in the 16th century, sounded like a tone poem to the pleasures of hari-kari.

The match began with England in imperious mode, and, one trusts, the referee having had a word with the Japanese reminding them that were any of their team to commit suicide by any means during the course of the game, they would be met with a straight red card. England certainly didn’t play with the sullen lethargy of those under contractual obligation to be torn away from their Wiis and Gameboys for about two hours in their pampered fucking lives. Hefty Tom Huddlestone played with customary winged heels, which he would need as the Japanese regarded him with a half a mind to harpoon him. Rio Ferdinand is still living the England dream, with the emphasis on “dream”. Darren Bent definitely might not as well have got straight onto his travel agent at half time to enquire about cut price holidays from mid June to mid July. Rooney’s glances of affection at Theo Walcott when, very occasionally indeed, his end product was slightly less than perfect were veritable love letters, none of them including the letters “T”, “W”, “A” and “T”, followed by the punctuation points “!”. “!”, “!”, “!”, “!”, “!” and “!”.

Astonishingly, however, it was the Japanese who, in an act of inscrutable folly found the back of the net first. The scorer was a fellow by the name of Tulio, which sounds suspiciously non-oriental. I trust that a FIFA biologist, superintended by a member of the English FA, was dispatched to carry out a Race Test at half time, involving blood samples and phrenological examinations of the cranium to check that he was indeed Japanese. Whatever, this was undoubtedly Japan’s Pearl Harbour moment, which served only to enrage and galvanise England’s Allied Forces, who redoubled their efforts and vowed revenge.

Half time reinforcements saw Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard introduced onto the pitch. It is a tribute to the latter that I could have sworn, going by recent performances, that he had already been on the pitch in the first half. And, before long, our efforts were rewarded with a penalty, which was duly dispatched, or near as damnit, by Frank Lampard in an absolutely bloody useful effort. The goal, however, was disallowed on some tedious technicality doubtless introduced by the bureaucratic gnomes of Brussels in order to hamper British enterprise.

This hitch notwithstanding, Japan were finally sunk with two late strikes, much as they were in 1945. Our own fortitude, then as know, had proven superior. Much as we had ridden out the Blitz through cheerful stoicism and the whistling of the tunes of Bud Flanagan, the Japanese, when on the receiving end, displayed a peculiar genetic intolerance to nuclear annihilation. All that remained now was for the USS Missouri to be unmoored and recommissioned, and for a delegation led by John Terry to step aboard and accept the Japanese surrender, on terms favourable to the English, dictating the following terms.

-It’s a restaurant. We want chairs. And cutlery. And to keep our shoes on. And something filling to eat, in which seaweed isn’t the main ingredient. Or cat.

-Do something amusing involving your naked bodies and a cheese grater for our televisual delectation.

The game was won, the match over. However, for weeks, months, perhaps years to come there will be at least one member of the Japanese back four scurrying gamely, around in the long grass of that Austrian pitch, unaware that the whistle has long blown.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Interim Friendly Report: England v Egypt


When one contemplates the perfidy of the Egyptian race, it reddens the very corpuscles with rage. Our young men, most notoriously in the 19th century under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley, put their more rebellious and querulous element to the sword, thereby reducing the overall hotheadedness of their stock. Our middle aged men have attempted to instil in them the values of sensible borders (straight, not too squiggly) and of a good civil service, a social system in which each man knows his place, however lowly. Moreover, if literature is to be any guide, even our women have paid their part, both devising and then solving their murder mysteries. And yet, time and again, like the mangy, pestilential baksheesh hounds that they are if the truth dare be known, they have bitten the hand that has fed them scraps from the imperial high table.

What, after all, is the Egyptian legacy? A handful of glorified, oversized sandcastles, a propensity to worshipping small animals and the mistaking of plantpots for headjoy. A poor haul, old told, especially when contrasted with the spoils of Empire, our own, proud heritage as displayed at the British Museum. We are very different animals, we and the wild-eyed wearers of the tarboosh, and so it proved this night. Bulldogs versus camels – and it is abundantly clear who is the superior of those species.

The national anthems told the story, so much so that, looking round the stadium, it was clear that many of the crowd had left their seats and departed once they were concluded. Ours was bellowed with such vigour that even in the unlikely event that the Supreme Deity were a little hard of hearing, he would soon get the message via his ear trumpet and set at once about the business of saving Her Majesty. As for the Egyptian effort, well, doubtless FA officials obliged by pouring a pathway of sand in front of the line of players in order that they could perform their traditional dance; instead, however, they produced some ponderous, pseudo-martial dirge, which in its duration seemed to outlast one or two or the wars Egypt has fought and lost in recent times.

One did question the selection of officials – South American? With their hides still red raw from the thrashing we gave them in the Falklands? This was perhaps the one and only occasion on which I would have trusted a Hebrew in a position of responsibility, to run the line, at any rate.

The game began at full pelt, with the Egyptians clearly ruing their importunate impetuosity in agreeing to this fixture as England at once asserted their authority, if only in the redness of their shirts – the colour of Empire, in contrast to Egypt’s white, the colour of surrender. I was distracted when John Terry, our Captain, the very heart and loins of our defence, took receipt of the ball unchallenged and immediately passed it out into touch for an Egyptian throw-in, thereby averting any greater danger. I become aware of a rather queer droning sound. It recurred, the second time he touched the ball. I summoned my man, Seppings. “It appears, Seppings, that there is a nest of wasps in the offing, perhaps up in the guttering. Fetch a stick and the long ladder from the potting shed and investigate at once, man.” The retainer attempted to burble some response, pointing weakly at the television set, the crowd and the personage of Mr Terry but swiftly thought better of it as he met the full heat of my glower and departed to set about his chore.

England dominated the opening exchanges. Steven Gerrard was, as ever, excellent value for his haircut. Wayne Rooney played with the measured self-control of a man who has just shot himself out of a cannon, trousers ablaze. The only thing faster than Theo Walcott is the ball following his first touch, which is certainly saying something. Robert Green was so cat-like in goal that it is a wonder the Egyptian players did not fall to the ground in abasement and present him with burnt offerings. Frank Lampard, meanwhile, offered a masterclass in how to play the game (that is to say, book one, page one – assuming the basic standing position onfield). Wes Brown, was as ever, extraordinarily orange in defence.

And yet, to the shock and disgust of the world, it was Egypt who took the lead, their striker ungallantly taking advantage of temporary English indisposition and rifling home past goalkeeper Green, who had quite rightly not expected any such audacity. This was reminiscent of the insolence of Colonel Nasser in 1956 (one has to ask, as with Gadhaffi, why the generals in his army did not pull rank on him at the time). Sir Anthony Eden was doubtless turning in his grave, as indeed he did at the time, when a certain seniority was expected of British Prime Ministers.

Come half time, and the media reported feverishly on events thus far, the British correspondents with their telephones and laptop computer machines, the Egyptian with his hammer and chisel. As I took stock, I noticed outside that some damn fool had left a ladder placed adjacent to the window, a sure invitation to footpads. I duly strode over and with one smite of my cane, sent it clattering to the ground. Meanwhile, as mascot Signor Capello was dispatched to sell ice cream to members of the crowd, English members of the management team hatched a plan to confound the opposition. Using the element of surprise, they removed from the field our best player, Frank Lampard, leaving the Egyptians puzzled as to why we would make such a bizarre tactical selection given that he hadn’t played like an inert, useless, spacewasting crock even by his own staggeringly fucking twat-high spacewasting standards in the first half.

The plan worked and in the second half, England ran riot, the Egyptians swiftly capitulating under the English assault, reminiscent of Sir Garnet Wolseley suppressing the Urabi Revolt, the stadium resounding to cries of “Aaaeiiiieeeeeee!!!!”s as Peter Crouch in particular applied the length of cold steel to which the peculiarly constituted North Africans are so inimical. The Egyptians prayed loudly to their dog gods, Ra, Allah and suchlike, in vain. I called for Seppings to recharge my brandy tumbler only to hear a low moan in response – looking out the window, I saw that he was lying in the courtyard below in a pool of his own blood, bones broken, as if having fallen from a great height, But even the bumbling clumsiness of a manservant could not cloud my satisfaction at yet another superlative England victory.

If there was one blot on this performance, I will concede that it was defensive error on England’s part. It was an error by Wayne Bridge, at left back, not to put his wife or partner at the pleasure and disposal of our good leader and true John Terry. This breach of established protocol may have sent a ripple of disquiet through our back four which benefited the Egyptians. For John Terry’s heroic reputation has only been burnished by certain stories that have recently emerged. He is what in my day was known as a Rutter. He ruts, ruts, and ruts again, for team, for country, for Queen, sending each thrust victorious, happy and glorious. I envisage his fellow players forming a guard of honour with their involuntary salutes beneath which he ruts each of the players’ wives or girlfriends in turn, for duty, for pleasure, for God, oh God Almighty . . .

As for the Egyptians, their ambassador will be summoned in this morning and, be summarily demanded the handover of the tribute due us following this glorious victory. Egypt, you owe us the following;

1. The wife of your left back.

2. One canal.