Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nameless Poet Scores for the English

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nameless Poet Scores for the English

Article excerpt


GIVEN everything those funster punsters in the Murdoch press have done in the past, I was actually disappointed they didn't reprise their 1992 "It's the Sun Wot Won It" post-election headline by tagging England's World Cup defeat "It's the Hun Wot Won It".

By jingo! No sooner had the bingo balls been plucked from their velvet sack to announce England's inevitable (and by now traditional) pairing with Germany than normally sane headline writers headed for the bunkers, pulled on their tin hats and plastered page after page with salvo upon salvo of xenophobia.

One has come to expect it from the tabloids (indeed, your own Little Englander has launched many a nationalistic sporting broadside himself) but this time even the posh papers were at it: The Times and Telegraph thundered about "war" and the Independent concocted a convoluted tribute to England's goalscorer with "A Goal from Defoe - Now for the Foe!" Geddit? Actually, my favourite piece of pithily pungent propaganda was not aimed at the foe we faced in two world wars but at an 'old enemy' of far longer standing.

Neither was it written by a paid hack like me; this was the work of that English everyman, the otherwise nameless poet we might call William Wordsmith. Plastered on the outside wall of a pub in Cambridge were the words: "So it's Germany v England and the French have gone home ... ring any bells?" Racist? Possibly. Insulting? Most certainly. But also honestly, stingingly funny and quintessentially English in a Dad's Army kind of way.

And the match result? Predictable.

Captain Mainwaring's men would give a whole regiment of Rooneys a run for their money.

MY mate Domino Joe is a man for all seasons. A former landlord, he quit the bar to open a barber's shop and has never regretted it: a nine-to-five job and the removal of constant exposure to alcohol have improved his dominoes no end. …

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