In England’s Scorched & Pleasant Land

In our English sun scorched brown and pleasant land, summer 2018 is starting to feel a bit like summer 2012 was amongst the whole of the Great Britain. As I write, growing euphoria ensues. It’s catalyst the exploits of the English football team that yesterday saw them progress to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The possibility of becoming world champions creating national excitement akin to the joy experienced in July/August six years ago when Farrar, Ennis, Rutherford, Murray, Hoy, Joshua, Adams et al became British Olympic champions on home soil.

Nothing’s been won yet. Despite this, fledgling international manager Gareth Southgate deserves kudos for becoming only the third England boss in history to reach the last four of the tournament. An splendid achievement by his young charges, which far exceeds expectations of many supporters, pundits and Frank Artichoke in Tipton, West Midlands.

Artichoke, a man in his dotage who, prior to the World Cup commencing, cynically wrote off his nation’s chances, blustering “If England win the World Cup, I’ll show my backside in the bookies on Tipton High Street.”

Much to the relief of Tiptonians, the bookies on Tipton High Street hasn’t got a transparent window frontage. Consequently, should England become champions their innocent meanders down the town’s main thoroughfare shouldn’t be tainted by the sight of an old man’s posterior.

Seeing news footage of my fellow countryman celebrating the fruits of Southgate and his players labour is an uplifting experience. Witnessing the tribalism in the packed viewing arenas up and down England raises me to a level of patriotism that ordinarily only annually manifests itself during September. Then it’s a consequence of witnessing the stirring Elgar’s ‘Pomp & Circumstance March No.1’ and Arne’s ‘Rule Britannia’ signalling the end of this years Proms season.

It’s refreshing to be able to celebrate Englishness without it being sabotaged by the right wing groups, or indeed made to feel guilty as it offends someone. Unlike our fellow union countries Scotland and Wales, along with close neighbours the Republic of Ireland our annual national day, to celebrate patron saint St George, barely receives a mention in dispatches.

Thankfully, though, national embracing of success in the sporting field by England appears to be allowed. Perhaps a consequence of the cultural/ethnic diversity of competitors representing our cosmopolitan country. Or maybe that many English people refuse to have sporting events hijacked by undesirables with their own twisted agendas…… Who knows and, at the moment, who cares.

I’m just going to enjoy the ride and bask in the euphoria. Feelings which are the very antithesis of the usual melancholy created during England’s usual woeful tournament attempts.

Like the 2012 London Olympics, I’ll absorb the memories bequeathed by my country’s unexpected football success. Events now safely stored next to recollections of, amongst many others, the sunny Saturday evening in July 2012 when Farrar, Ennis and Rutherford created euphoric reactions amongst the British public with three athletic gold medals in an hour.

So whether you watched the game in a pub with your mates Hacker, Jacker, Nacker and Slacker, or like me in your back garden with Karen, Mike, Samantha, Sam and Alexander, hopefully you’ll have fond recollections to look back on in your dotage.

Hopefully, the World Cup and football will be coming home. But if not remember the euphoric journey Southgate and his lad’s have given you, as, like buses in the fictional Yorkshire village of Ainsley Scragg, they only come around every few years, sometimes decades.

I realise Hacker, Jacker, Nacker and Slacker won’t recall much of yesterday, but worry not England are indeed in the World Cup semi-finals. You didn’t dream it….. Oh and Jacker, you best ring Louise pronto and apologise!!

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