This is a rambling, ill-formed blog, hope you like it. Question : are retired people more patriotic than younger people? Let’s clear this one up right away. I have absolutely no idea. I get the impression that the UKIP vote is made up more of us elderly types but that may be scant evidence of a conclusion either way. There, that’s done. I wouldn’t normally expect to write a blog about patriotism. Who was it said that it was the last resort of a scoundrel? Johnson was it? I’m not sure what today’s equivalent of a scoundrel would be – bank director, pay day loans owner, energy company director. Whatever, I tend to agree with the general idea that somebody who espouses patriotism is to be treated with caution. My mother is patriotic, she’s in hospital again, always insists on asking where the staff are from – they’re all foreigners you know. Embarrassing it is in a way that only old people can be. This lady is from Yugoslavia, she announces on one visit. Before I can say ‘former’ Yugoslavia the young lady says ‘I’m from Pakistan’. I don’t know but that about summed it up for me. Nationality is an area to be cautious of, I reckon.
Except, that is, in a sporting context and no better time to hide behind the cloak of nationalism than during the 6 Nations. That’s rugby for the uninitiated. Sport generally tends to bring out the best or worst, you decide, in a person. In each of the sports I follow there is a specific nation to be most passionately anti. It can be fun. In rugby union it’s been difficult to decide between Wales and France. When the two play each other there has been an agony of indecision about which team I most want to lose. Just recently this has been a little easier to resolve because the Welsh have been more successful. And that of course is why we hate them, in a sporting / rugby sense, because, generally, they have been better than us (and I’m writing this before the game this weekend). So, quite right and proper to hate them – on the sports field.
In football of course we have Germany. Apart from two occasions I can bring to mind, 1966 being one, they generally beat us. Deutschland indeed, uber alles. Yes, yes I know we won the big ones but that’s no consolation to a sports fan. Cricket, deep sigh, do I really need to elaborate? No, I think not. Same country in rugby league by the way. Tennis has become an irrelevance and no, I cannot take any pleasure in Andy Murray, he is so conspicuously Scottish and no blame to him for that, but how the English, whoever they may be, can cheer themselves hoarse over his performance, I will never understand. Britishness is rapidly becoming a red herring, especially in a sporting context. Yes, I know about the Olympics. The Ryder Cup is different, I can really get behind the European team. It’s easy because we’re playing Americans who, in a golf context, show themselves for the boors they can be. I still have a soft spot for Lee Westwood as an English golfer and, I thought, a NottsForest supporter, that is until I saw him sitting in the stands at Old Trafford. Now I’m not so sure. A Man U fan who lives in Florida, a bit harder to patriotically get behind.
You may think I sound a tad bitter, a little on the negative side perchance and you’d be right. But I was a person who used to cheer for Scotland when they reached the World Cup and we didn’t. Nobody could have cheered louder than I when Archie Gemmill scored for Scotland in the 1978 World Cup, the fact he was a Notts Forest player helped a bit I admit. So I was always pleased for the success of the ‘home nations’ until the scales dropped from my eyes revealing my naivety. Yes, those T shirts really did say ‘I support Scotland and any other team that plays England’. Blimey, that stings. I honestly never realised how much they actually hated us. Silly of me, I know that now. In my youth an England fan would salivate about the prospect of a Great Britain or United Kingdom team. The addition of Denis Law or Jim Baxter, let alone George Best, now that would be some team. But now Scottish Independence holds no fears in a sports context. Scotland are so poor at football and rugby that we are missing very little from north of the border. Sadly also the Welsh and the Irish in footballing terms.
So to the Irish. My father was born in Ireland and Mrs Summerhouse’s parents were as Irish as you can get, so maybe this clouds my judgement but so be it. If England don’t win the 6 Nations then I hope Ireland do. All of which brings me rather abruptly, to my closing argument re patriotism, succinctly put it is this – we are all immigrants, duh. So talk of ‘pure Englishness’ is so obviously a myth that it hardly bears discussion. Just a question of how far you want to go back, where do you draw the line UKIP? English = Danes, Normans, Anglo Saxons, Jutes, Romans and many more. Even the Celts, who’ve been around for a while, came from somewhere else. So patriotism is fine and dandy to a point and in a sporting context, but let’s not get silly about it. So I don’t know about other retired people but for me, in my retirement, patriotism is to be treated with extreme caution. Come on England.