When England played Portugal in the recent World Cup, I confess I bet against them. Their performance in their previous matches convinced me they would lose, or at least draw, to any half-decent team in good form.
And yet I was sad when their star player, Wayne Rooney, got sent off for hoofing an opponent in the b*lls. Sadder still when they lost on penalties. They, and their countrymen, really wanted to win _so_ much; the tabloids here are even covering what their wives and girlfriends are up to, in detail.
When a South American coach passed on working for England because of press intrusion, you know there’s an unhealthy level of interest in the game. And when, after all the blather, they can’t win games, it’s time for someone very strong-minded to take control of their efforts, and tell the media, the past-it ‘star’ players and the Football Association to go h*mp themselves.
A few days previously I had gone to see some London sights with my girlfriend’s sister.
One now has to queue to get into the Houses of Parliament, because of security checks. Previously, we waited an hour in the rain and couldn’t get in because MP’s friends and guests had preference. My girlfriend, who was with us on the first attempt, was in a rage, and let the staff have it.
Inside, we saw a very eloquent Conservative MP deplore the proposed twenty-eight days of internment for suspected terrorists. He said the legislation was going to be defeated in the House of Lords because it contravened EU or Human Rights legislation, so they were just going through the motions.
Made the point that detaining someone for twenty-eight days (without charge) would cause them to lose their job regardless, never mind the psychological strain.
One gets the sense that the tabloids stir up pseudo-outrage over the latest bete noir (at the monent, paedophiles), Tony Blair has a half-baked idea about dealing with it, they pass a Bill about it, it doesn’t work, so now you have masses of bad laws on the statute books which annoy the public and civil servants can’t implement.
We then went to Westminster Abbey. I protested to the ‘Sis’ that I wasn’t going to pay Â£10 (Â£10!) to get into a Protestant church, so I waited outside for her. The entrance is so small and restrained I wasn’t aware of it until I saw people queueing up there, and I’d been passing it for fifteen years while I worked nearby! St. Margarets Church confuses you because it encroaches on the approach. The Abbey looks like a bad extension job as a result.
On we went to Tower Hill, and the Crown Jewels. There were more gold objects than I anticipated, and crowns, and ceremonial swords. The ‘Salts’ were interesting. I suppose salt symbolises the Earth, and dominion over it, with salt also being very valuable in itself in ancient times.
Most moving was a film clip of Elizabeth II’s coronation; the choral singing was utterly lovely, and the scene very moving; whoever choreographed it was a master of theatre.
Went to the White Tower, and viewed its Instruments Of Death. They had a kind of thuggish dullness about them. Funny how we like this sort of thing. There’s a small industry around a butcher of prostitutes locally i.e. Jack The Ripper. Not so nice if it happens to someone you know. Or to you.
Saw the famous ravens. Interesting birds. Bigger than you’d expect. Don’t move or say much. I asked a yeoman if they’d had their wings clipped and he said they’d clipped their flight feathers so they can’t fly so high. So unless they hop on a bus, they’re not leaving the tower, and England is safe!