24 August, 2008

Cordial relations and sour grapes

Well, the Olympics are drawing to an end. David Beckham is preparing for his role in the closing ceremony and the factories of Beijing are getting ready to recommence churning all that crap out into the atmosphere. Pity the Paralympians who are going to have to breathe in shitty air.

The Olympics has brought out the best and the worst in people. I was particularly entertained by this little piece in todays Sun Herald newspaper. Paul Connolly wrote an article called 'Moments to Remember'. This is what he had to say about Britain.

6. The Empire Strikes Back. We may well remember Beijing for all the childish bickering it prompted between Britain (well, the English part of the union) and Australia. "Ner ner, we won more gold than you!" Only cause you roped in the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish. "Whinge, whinge, we even snatched some gold in the pool off you!" Not bad for a country that has very few swimming pools - and not much soap. Actually, that last, less than original comment was made by AOC chief John "Shit Happens" Coates.

Schoolyard stuff.

Gee, Paul, do you think so? Quite frankly, I think you're talking out of your arse. I haven't heard too much gloating from the British at all. We're too busy being surprised and pleased. If there is any gloating (and I'd be surprised if there wasn't any), well, Australians like you (not all Aussies, obviously) only have yourselves to blame. The jingoist Aussie as just as real as his Union Jack waving counterpart. It's little wonder that Australians are seen as bad winners and bad losers by other countries.

Schoolyard stuff, whines Paul. I remember when England - and yes, that's England and not Britain this time - were playing Australia in the Rugby World Cup in 2003. One of the newspapers here published the name of hotel where the England team was staying and encouraged their readers to beep their car horns outside and keep the team awake. Apparently several knuckledraggers did just that. Classic bad sportsmanship as well as a surefire way to annoy the local residents. We're not the only ones in the playground.

What's the problem, Paul? Australia didn't get as many medals as you thought? You didn't get to wiggle your arse in the face of the Motherland and have a 'ner ner' moment of your own? There's finally a bit of competition? If people like you hadn't spent so much time delighting in the sporting losses of Britain (and yes, that's England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) you might not be feeling like a kid with a puncture in his favourite football right now. If any Brits are having a gloat then you only have yourselves to blame for continually calling us crap. Gracelessness in defeat is something that so called sporting Australians excel at. "Oh, the Poms (again, people, it's Great Britain, not just England) only won at the sitting down sports. They only won with Aussie coaches. " So, it's not Australia who have a Kiwi as a coach for their rugby team? My mistake.

I mentioned a while ago that I've now lived in Australia for ten years. For the most part I love it. But it seems to me that it's okay to be abusive to the English in a way that no other nationality cops it and at times it goes past being a friendly joke.

A few years ago the Sunday Telegraph newspaper had a memorable headline. 'Filthy Poms' screamed out from the front page. English backpackers were being held entirely responsible for the amount of litter being left on Bondi Beach. Imagine the outcry if the headline had said 'Filthy Lebs' or 'Filthy Japs' or some other nationality. But no, because we're English (not Scottish or Welsh or from Northern Ireland) it's okay to insult us because it's just a joke and Pom is an affectionate term and hey, if you can't take a joke why don't you just fuck off back to England where it's cold and wet, you Pommy bastard?

You know what, Paul Connolly? I wasn't gloating. I was happy to see the country of my birth do well for once on the international sporting stage. But people like you make me want to take my Union Jack flag and shove it right up your arse. Anything to stop a repeat of the drivel that comes out of it would be a start.

Look, I know it goes both ways. I know Aussie friends of mine in London get called 'convicts'. Friends, with my hand on my European passport I apologise for their stupidity. For every person who has asked you if Skippy really delivers the post I've had ten people express surprise at my ability to get a suntan because, as we all know, the English don't get suntans. Apparently. For every person who has asked you if Australia is really like Neighbours (well, clearly not because everyone in Neighbours is white) I've had to bite my tongue when Australians express surprise that I feel the cold, because I'm English and I should be used to it. Perhaps Aussies think we all have cold blood to match our stiff upper lips and 'reserved' behaviour.

Now, what was that medal count again?............

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