Mr Unreliable


I’d forgotten all about Clive James. Not completely, you understand, or even intentionally, but when you’ve not seen on heard of a person for a while, you tend to forget about them. A bit like Jimmy Carr and the tax man. And like Mr Carr I realise I have made a terrible mistake.

There was a time when you couldn’t turn on the TV in the UK without watching this bald, fat Australian wander around some far-flung corner of the globe, or lolling behind his desk while he introduced his next guest on his chat show.  Like most talented performers, TV companies have a tendency to over-expose them, to milk their cash cow til it collapses in exhaustion and apathy. I feel Clive suffered a similar fate. The public like a talent, but can whiff from 300 yards the smell of a tired idea and over-used performer.

So it’s sad to hear that he has announced that he’s losing his fight against leukaemia, with which he was diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago. That would explain his absence from our screen, after having dominated it for so long.

Take Michael MacIntyre plus Noel Edmonds. Add some talent and you’ll realise how often our Clive seemed to be on the box. But I liked him, as did millions of others, even if the easy-tv option of fronting shows about the world’s worst adverts was clearly below this man’s level.

But it was his writing which I remember made me laugh out loud, and I’m annoyed that I had forgotten this fact. I read James’s autobiographies and travel writings before I’d discovered Bill Bryson. His tales from his childhood in Australia are arse-splittingly funny, every bit as good as Bryson’s accounts of life in mid-west America, and I can pay him no greater compliment then that. When I read this stuff, I realised that I’d made so many wrong life-choices along the way, and if I could turn back the clock, I’d pick up a pen and start writing, and stop farting around with photographs.

Luckily, our friends at Wikipedia (that’s not the lot holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy) have collated some of Clive’s funnier quotes, some of which I list below. Re-reading these, I know now my next move. Cease wading though Antony Beevor‘s magnificent and enormous Second World War, and re-buy Unreliable Memoirs (from where all the following quotes are gleaned).

I’ve read enough books about the War, I haven’t laughed enough. Yet.

  • Most first novels are disguised autobiographies. This autobiography is a disguised novel.
  • Rilke used to say that no poet would mind going to gaol, since he would at least have time to explore the treasure house of his memory. In many respects Rilke was a prick.
  • I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me.
  • My mother had naturally spiced the pudding with sixpences and threepenny bits, called zacs and trays respectively. Grandpa had collected one of these in the oesophagus. He gave a protracted, strangled gurgle which for a long time we all took to be the beginning of some anecdote.
  • I remember the shock of seeing Ray undressed. He looked as if he had a squirrel hanging there. I had an acorn.
  • Children in Australia are still named after movies and sporting events. You can tell roughly the year the swimming star Shane Gould was born. It was about the time Shanewas released. There was a famous case of a returned serviceman who named his son after all the campaigns he had been through in the Western Desert. The kid was called William Bardia Escarpment Qattara Depression Mersa Matruh Tobruk El Alamein Benghazi Tripoli Harris
  • Riding the crest, I diversified, exploiting a highly marketable capacity to fart at will… By mastering this skill I set myself on a par with those court jesters of old who could wow the monarch and all his retinue with a simultaneous leap, whistle and fart. Unable to extend my neo-Homeric story-telling activities from the playground to the classroom, I could nevertheless continue to hog the limelight by interpolating a gaseous running commentary while the teacher addressed himself to the blackboard.
  • The whole secret of raising a fart in class is to make it sound as if it is punctuating, or commenting upon, what the teacher is saying. Timing, not ripeness, is all. ‘And since x tends to y as c tends to d,’ Fred expounded, ‘then the differential of the increment of x squared must be… must be… come on, come on! What must it flaming be?’ Here was the chance to to give my version of what it must be. I armed one, opened the bomb bay, and let it go. Unfortunately, the results far exceeded the discreet limits I had intended. It sounded like a moose coughing.
  • As I begin this last paragraph, outside my window a misty afternoon drizzle gently but inexorably soaks the City of London. Down there in the street I can see umbrellas commiserating with each other. In Sydney Harbour, twelve thousand miles away and ten hours from now, the yachts will be racing on the crushed diamond water under a sky the texture of powdered sapphires. It would be churlish not to concede that the same abundance of natural blessings which gave us the energy to leave has every right to call us back. All in, the whippy’s taken. Pulsing like a beacon through the days and nights, the birthplace of the fortunate sends out its invisible waves of recollection. It always has and it always will, until even the last of us come home.

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How to Complain. #97: Writing to the Council


An elderly reader hopes that by sharing his experience of the newly-named “Royal” Borough of Greenwich, others will be wary of promises made by their local council and spared from similar misery.
.
Mr. D Rapley
11 ********** Road
New Eltham
SE9 ***
Sirs
 I write in frustration regarding my ambitious request for a mattress collection. A request was successfully made to your office by my wife and collection duly arranged for last Thursday 7th June.
 We were instructed to leave the mattress out for collection before 6am on the 7th. Wow,we thought,these mattress men are really early worms. Mattress in position and collection naively anticipated.
 Guess what – we still await collection,despite several phone call attempts to advise you of the situation of our deteriorating bedware.These attempts unsurprisingly only resulted in a loop tape of recorded messages reassuring me of all the wonderful services the now Royal Borough boasts.
 
On one lottery-odded occasion an actual  human eventually decided to pick up the receiver.
 Luckily my wife still managed to remember why she had phoned (she put the phone on speaker during the recorded options, managed to prepare a 5 course meal,wash up and finish knitting a balaclava), and was then given vague assurances from the inexplicably named customer services department that we were “on the computer” and the arrival of the men in the yellow lorry was imminent.
 Well,it still hasn’t happened. Not a reversing beep. Not a welcoming woosh of an airbrake.Nothing.
 Oh yes,all this in despite of the fact that the monstrous £21 charge you demanded was trousered on the spot. Council procedures dictate that the request couldn’t even be registered unless payment was made. I was 20 guineas lighter before the receiver had been slammed back into it’s now cold cradle.
 So,I must dutifully inform you that unless this now sodden,hopefully vermin invested health hazard is not collected as you promised (as is your duty),it will give it a new home in the road.
 I shall then take a picture or two of the festering,soon to be vandalised item and send them,along with a brief invective, to the appropriate consumer interest editor at the local News Shopper. Most probably the same hack who reviews the local pubs with such damning vitriol.
 I live in hope and remind you of the borough’s – sorry,Royal Borough’s – crest that proudly proclaims “WE GOVERN BY SERVING”. Can I have a bit of that please?
 
Regards
 
Dave Rapley
 
Your loyal rate payer of forty plus years standing..and waiting.

If it Wasn’t for the Holympics Inbetween


Cockney singer and comedian, Gus Elen (below) made this little ditty famous at the end of the 19th Century. It’s a bitter-sweet number, lamenting the loss of the beautiful English countryside and the advent of the slums as London sprawled out over the South East in the name of progress and industrialisation.

A little over a century later, the urban streets, factories and gasworks which Elen mocked have been pulled down and swept away, but not to be replaced by the original green fields, but with Millennium Tents, Olympic Towers, Aquatic Centres and Velodromes. It’s hailed by some as progress, by others and the rape and destruction of our heritage. By others again as a fantastic money-making opportunity for a few lucky people at the expense of some of the poorest in society.

When reciting this one, the trick is to hone your cockney accent (and I know many of you have been practicing hard to perfect yours, yearning to be able to speak proper) just like Gus did when he first performed this on stage to East Enders (no, not that lot – the real ones) and sang to them as one of their own.

Once more I am indebted to The Talented Mr Rapley for reminding me of this one.

(This ain’t Gus singing , but it’ll give you an idea of how the tune goes)


http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/musichall/2.html

If it Wasn’t for the Houses Inbetween

If you saw my little backyard, “Wot a pretty spot!” you’d cry,
It’s a picture on a sunny summer day;
Wiv the turnip tops and cabbages wot peoples doesn’t buy
I makes it on a Sunday look all gay.
The neighhours finks I grow ’em and you’d fancy you’re in Kent,
Or at Epsom if you gaze into the mews.
It’s a wonder as the landlord doesn’t want to raise the rent,
Because we’ve got such nobby distant views.

CHORUS:
Oh it really is a wery pretty garden
And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
You could see to ‘Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between.

We’re as countrified as can be wiv a clothes prop for a tree,
The tub-stool makes a rustic little stile;
Ev’ry time the bloomin’ clock strikes there’s a cuckoo sings to me,
And I’ve painted up “To Leather Lane a mile.”
Wiv tomatoes and wiv radishes wot ‘adn’t any sale,
The backyard looks a puffick mass o’ bloom;
And I’ve made a little beehive wiv some beetles in a pail,
And a pitchfork wiv a handle of a broom.

CHORUS:
Oh it really is a wery pretty garden,
And Rye ‘ouse from the cock-loft could be seen:
Where the chickweed man undresses,
To bathe ‘mong the watercresses,
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between.

There’s the bunny shares ‘is egg box wiv the cross-eyed cock and hen
Though they ‘as got the pip and him the morf;
In a dog’s ‘ouse on the line-post there was pigeons nine or ten,
Till someone took a brick and knocked it orf.
The dustcart though it seldom comes, is just like ‘arvest ‘ome
And we mean to rig a dairy up some’ow;
Put the donkey in the washouse wiv some imitation ‘orns,
For we’re teaching ‘im to moo just like a cah.

Just the Ticket


Because I am a wonderful son to a doting mother and father, a couple of years ago I purchased 2 tickets to the ATP tennis finals, which is held each year at the millennium bivouac. Being in the lower order of the 2nd and last innings of their lives, they are unlikely to make the trip across London to Wimbledon, and The Tent is only up the road I thought I’d buy them the chance to watch Federer, Nadal, Sour Faced Jock and the rest. They’d love it, thought I. My mum was especially looking forward to it. Being a woman she doesn’t follow real sport so it’s good to get her something she does understand and enjoy. The hairdressers and Bluewater were shut.

So I forked out the considerable sum (I told you it was a while ago) one pays for such event and secured two tickets for the opening night. On the menu was a men’s doubles game, the Scotch geezer vrs Soderling, then a mixed doubles match and lastly Rafa Nadal vrs everyone’s favourite cheating Serb, Novak Djokovic. I’d present to them the tickets, and shortly after receiving my “Son of the Year” award, I would drop mum and dad off as close to the Greenwich landmark (I was living but a couple of miles away then) go home, have a meal, watch a movie, maybe even grab a couple of zeds before it’d be time to pick up the parents again.

All went well at first. Yes, they loved the gift, and were thrilled that they were to see both Djoko and Jocko. On the day, I delivered them to as close to the gate as I could, I then drove home, shoes off and mused about what The Incumbent and I were gonna have for dinner. I suppose it would have been around 4pm. At about 6.10 my phone went. It was mum.

“We’re ready to come home now, Mike” she said.
“What ??” says I. “They can’t have finished four matches in two hours ?”
“No, we’ve been thrown out” she replied, as if that would answer all my questions.
“Thrown out ?” I couldn’t believe it. I started wondering who dad had had a row with for them to be ejected. He can be a bolshie bastard at times. Thanks god I take after mother.

Further investigation and interrogation revealed that the tickets I had bought (a snip at £80 each) were for only the first two matches of the day. “The afternoon session”. I felt such a fool. I should have known from the cheap cost of the seats that one couldn’t expect to pay a mere £160 and see a whole day’s play.

I was fuming. I cannot relay to you effectively just how angry I was. Letters and emails were sent (mum likes writing a shitty letter too) and we all vowed there and then never to darken the Dome’s door again. (I have since broken this vow about 6 times, but at the time I meant it.)

I’ve calmed down now. Really I have. I only bring up the whole sordid story as I was sent just now an email by my old pal Philip who is, shall we say a tad miffed about similar money-grabbing schemes of the water in Olympic Park (“never!” I don’t hear you cry). I’ll let Phil tell the story :

“…[there’s] the shocking revelation that we have failed to buy all the tickets made available in the latest release. Apparently we have passed up on 300,000 and are no longer the greatest sports lovers on the planet. The real shock is how they are getting away with chopping up the sporting day into tiny little parcels are thereby selling the same seat 6 or 7 times a day. You can spend £450 to watch an hour and 5 minutes of moistened bints falling from the high board in the Aquatic centre. 

Tuesday
31 July 2012 
15:00-16:05
Diving Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final

Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Victory Ceremony

Session Code: DV003 Aquatics Centre
£450.00 – AA

£295.00 – A
£185.00 – B
£95.00 – C
£50.00 – D
 
Or if you fancy a bit of Robin Hood at Lords you could pay £65 for a team elimination session that starts at 9 finishes at 10.40 in the morning. You’ll be back out on the pavement before the boozers have even opened.  
Saturday
28 July 2012 
09:00-10:40 Archery Men’s Team 1/8 Eliminations

Session Code: AR003 Lord’s Cricket Ground  £65.00 – A

£45.00 – B
£30.00 – C
£20.00 – D
 

Un-fucking believable.  Athletics is even worse – not that there are any tickets to be had for that. But if you did somehow get that Willy Wonka magic ticket you could easily get lost inside the stadium and get to your seat just in time to meet the bloke who had next use of it settling in.”

And you thought it was just me. Thanks Phil. I know somewhere you can buy a great T-shirt to make your feelings known.

In my mum and dad’s case, dad had just returned to his seat carrying two £7.50 sandwiches, where an overall-dressed worker was cleaning up and clearing away the discarded cups and wrappers from the first session.

“You might as well leave that, mate, we’re still sitting there” pater informed the cleaner.
“No, sir, you have to go now”

Oddly, an argument ensued, ending with dad attempting to insert a subway baguette into an o2 official.

I can’t understand why people get so upset.

Guest List


I have a problem which I hope you can help me with. I’m waiting for the postman to arrive with a letter I’m eagerly expecting. I’ve invited some celebrities to witness me opening the envelope but am unsure as to who or how many of them will turn up. I have asked the local paper to photograph the event too, if that helps.

Here’s my invite list. How many of them do you think would attend the opening of an envelope ?

 

All those who answered “all of them” please take a House Point. Although, to be fair, only Sue Pollard will admit she will only be present to further her career as a tv celebrity.

Who Do You think You’re Kidding?


Things are definitely changing around here, and some of them not for the best.

I took off this morning on another one of what my doctor, Mr Lansley, calls “life-extending promenades” this morning. I know he means well but I’m not sure Dr Lansley understands just how far “a half hour’s walk” is. Or, come to that, if he understands anything at all about my health. Anyway, the novelty of the yomp to the post office is wearing off already so today I decide to turn the other way into the village itself. This way is a little more interesting as I pass by or through all the hustle and bustle which country life can offer.

I therefore reach the top of the lane and turn left this time, past the school with its newly installed metal detector and courtesy black maria which the children seem to find very interesting indeed. I stand to watch several of them playing a game of Hopscotch (or HopCaledonian as they are told to call it nowadays) through and around the metal detector. I started to reminisce about my time at the school and all the lovely knife-free years I enjoyed there, before I am awakened from my daydream and shooed away by a man pointing a Taser and wearing a flak jacket in school colours. I am a mixture of embarrassed and annoyed, but in any case shuffle off in the direction of the newsagent’s and the football fields beyond.

I no longer use this newsagent. I spent years gleaning from it all the info about the outside world I could. It was a lovely sight. A lovely big sign outside reading “The Village News” above the window was flanked by smaller ones of a bygone day: The News Of the World, News Shopper and even Horse&Hound were all represented in enamel signs down the sides of the shop. Proudly and efficiently run by old Mr Turnbull and his younger wife Susanna, it was a constant source of news, gossip and entertainment.

Sadly, as in everything nowadays, the shop has had a makeover, renamed itself “T’News of T’Village” and is daubed with posters for the Yorkshire Post, Salford Sentinel, and Whippet Magazine. The shop window has been widened, the counter brought closer to the door, and there’s even a space in the background for customers to enjoy a cappuccino or a flat white, run by the serial liar Mrs Kirkwood. (Amazing they haven’t pensioned her off yet.) The company has brought in a whole new staff to help out old Bill. I went in there one Sunday afternoon and found Jack Duckworth and Seth Armstrong serving. I had not a clue what they were on about and left sharply, never to return.

Mr Turnbull takes to the streets to sell the riveting Tameside Express

For your information I now pop along to Mr Humphrys who runs the paper stand on the corner. He doesn’t carry any of the tabloids or the magazines, and is only interested in the broadsheets, but at least I can understand what he’s talking about. And he and his friend Mr Naughtie (“Naughty Naughtie”, my mum calls him) do have a laugh when one of them accidentally mispronounces Mr Jeremy Hunt‘s name.  The only alternative place to get my news from is Holmes’– the convenience store in the high street. But I fear that if the manager, Eamonn, doesn’t stop tucking into the pasties (“well, no-one else is buying them any more”) they’ll be no room for anyone to get into the shop to buy anything. Fat eejit, so ye are.

As I passed them, Old Bill had young Charlie helping him pile up sandbags outside the door of the shop. They looked very sad. Mrs Kirkwood had her sunglasses on, so I knew it was about to rain. I put up my brolly, upped the pace to a stroll and continued up the path.

The school football pitches lay silent, save for the rustling of Ginsters Dwarf packets being blown about in the goal netting, and old Mr Fry, the omnipresent caretaker re-marking out the lines with his trusty, squeaky wheely machine. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called and that Mr Fry would take the time to tell me, at length, what its real name is, but I intentionally don’t catch his eye. I’m getting bored of him telling me everything about everything. It seems like he’s everywhere I go. And he keeps asking me to follow him. It’s creepy, I reckon. Why he doesn’t find himself a nice wife I’ll never know.

A small boy is told that Mr Moon is unable to play at the village concert.

Much excitement was to be had, apparently, up at these pitches at the weekend as two of the immigrant boys did frightfully well in their respective soccer matches. Young Fernando scored three goals. IN ONE MATCH. Putting to bed the fear had by his new PE master, Signor Baldio, that the boy needed to be fitted with calipers to sort his legs and feet out.

Over on another pitch, little Adolf Suarez also scored three times, even though parents were assured at christmas that he was to be expelled for calling some of the other boys “Schwartzers”.  His coach, Mr Kenneth Gorbals (pronounced Goebbels), sadly now blind in both eyes, did offer something by way of excuse, but no-one understood him. And on Pitch 3 John the School Bully amazed everyone by staying on the pitch for the whole of the match, and without abusing or maiming anyone. He got rather excited when he scored a goal, but his dad rushed on to the field of play and administered some pills, which he’d secreted in a little baggie down his sock. After the match ‘Bully’ was seen talking to the nurse, Mrs Bridge who seemed to be backing in to him. A lot.

It’s sad to think that in a matter of weeks the pitches and the ancient trees that surround them will be dug up and tarmacked over for use as an Olympic car park. Oh well, we all have to do our bit, I suppose. What’s hundreds of years of history and a few old Oaks when compared to ensuring the success of a corporate carve-up sports tournament ?

The Terry family takes on the Suarezes in a friendly kick about on Sunday morning.

The school’s newly-appointed Temporary Chief Coach, Mr W.O.T. Wovers (Cantab) said that he was “wery happy with all the boys he’d seen in twaining” and that he was confident in their ability to do well in the tournament this summer “especially against fwance and the Ukwaine”.

On the far side of the football pitches I could see the SBS training in the village pond. Their activity was only hampered by having to steer their boats around the Astute-class nuclear submarine which the Royal Navy have parked, sorry moored in our pond, much to the annoyance of both the ducks and the local flasher.  Sadly, since the local ARP warden, Mr Johnson, announced that our village was a prime Al Qaeda target this summer, the whole place has been a hive of activity, with varying degrees of success and popularity.

The site for the gun emplacement – originally destined to be on top of the Conservative Club – has been moved (thank the Lord) and will stand proudly, perched on top of the ICU building at the local Hospital. Mr Johnson tells us that, not only will this deter the “Mad Raghead Mullahs” from bombing our NHS hospital, but it will ensure the general security and safety of all those waiting hours in corridors to be seen by the woefully short-handed staff”. I can certainly see that no right-minded burglar would want to break into the hospital now.

A crack team of nurses abandon their posts at the gun emplacement as they
remember they’ve left an elderly patient alone with young Dr Shipman

As I turned for home, I paused for a moment and removed my cap as a funeral cortege passed by. They were burying old Mrs Blears who died suddenly and horribly in a freak razor-wire accident. She was wrapping the aforementioned wire around her chimney in an effort to dissuade the Taliban from mounting an attack on her home, when she slipped and fell through the wire to the ground. Only the wire catching her across the neck and in her mop of lovely ginger hair saved her fall. Sadly she died from the injuries sustained. Had she been rescued in time she may have lived. Apparently she hung there for four weeks before anyone noticed she’d gone. One neighbour said “I’m so relieved she’s dead: I thought I’d gone deaf”. Another was quoted as saying “Let’s just remember what she did for us and for herself and enjoy the peace and silence now she’s gone”.

I buy my paper from Mr Humphry’s I see that they’ve decided to allow drug users to represent the village in the summer sports day. That’s good. It’ll give School Bully something to do in the closed season. I did see his dad and Mr Chambers having a good old chin-wag earlier (which is strange, given Mr Chambers’ colour), but I’m sure whatever was said could be easily taken out of context.

Ok, gotta go now. Have to buy one of Mr Coe’s lottery tickets for a place in the Air Raid shelter. S’funny, I always thought there’d be a place for all of us in the shelter when the time finally came, given all the taxes we’ve paid over the years and how long we’ve lived here. Not to mention that many of us had to move out of home to allow Mr Coe to build that big bunker of his. But apparently some seats have to be reserved for special friends of Mr Coe, and their friends and their families. Which is only right, I suppose.

Cry ‘God for Appy Arry, England, and Saint George!’


Ah! April 23rd, Shakespeare’s Birthday and the day when all us English are supposed to celebrate the mighty knight, Saint George, slaying that nasty old dragon. Over the past few years there’s been a push (mainly by beer companies) for the English to get off their apathetic arses and celebrate their national day in the same, irritating manner that the Irish do for theirs on Paddy’s Day, the Jocks get out their lucky fivers on St Andy’s Day and the Yanks do on July 4th. And Christ, don’t we all get to hear about it.

You can sense the gradual crescendo of a slow, dull rumbling of a bandwagon every year with this year being earmarked as a particular one for celebration, it being both Olympic Year and the year of the Royal Jubilee .

Woo Hoo, as I’m told they say.

As I glance through the stained glass window of the potting shed, I can see on the barn opposite, two flags of St George hanging limply in the breeze, placed on poles by the local squire’s wife in a vain effort to rouse the rabble into another verse or two of Land of Hope & Glory or even Jerusalem. You’ll have read previous posts such as The Official Weedkiller of the England Football Team and taken on board my thoughts regarding our flag, so you can imagine how many I have hung out over the shed this morning.

However, each to his own, and I don’t need to go intruding on anyone’s merriment and celebrations, just because I have no interest in them at all. Yes I think the country would be a better place without the monarchy, but not to the extent I want to start burning down The Reichstag…. sorry, I mean Buckingham Palace. If people want to celebrate them, let them do so. I have much more and bigger fish to fry before I start getting het up over all that.

You will have noticed that I’m not a particular fan of Seb Coe‘s and Boris Johnson’s corporate carve-up taking place in London this summer. Whoop de-Do. I love my sport, I just can’t stand how Seb and his cronies have made such a bollock-up of the whole thing, while making sure every single penny is squeezed out of yer average sports fan and, while they’re at it, London resident. Sure, go ahead, knock yourself out with excitement as the runners, the jumpers the cyclists and the drug-takers come to town. Just include me out. I always cheer for the English team, whatever the sport. And my support will still be with Team GB this time. I just won’t run my life by what or how Seb and his PR firm, the BBC, tell me to this summer.

The Occupy London mob want to “reclaim the streets” during the Olympic Games. Really? Why would you wanna do that, then ? By all means shout your protests in a democratic manner from the top of a building, plaster the walls with banners, wear particularly clever and high quality tee shirts designed to illustrate your displeasure at the disruption to your city this year (and available at a very competitive rate right here – while stocks last). But causing disruption to the events, staging sit down protests in the stadium is one way to lose all public support for any legitimate beef you might have (see that arsehole Trenton Oldfield at the Boat Race) as well as risking a javelin in the goolies.

So I might take a mate up to The Shovel in a minute and no-doubt, Hilda the landlady will have festooned the place with pics of the Royals, the St George’s Cross and Union Jacks. The resident UKIP Nazis who are permanent fixtures at the bar will be waxing lyrical about how the country would be better without the “muslims, wogs and Ken Livingstone.” (I’ve heard it all before.)

Enjoy your local pub tonight, it’ll be fun. Enjoy too the gits in red-and-white plastic bowler hats singing Rule Britannia to you outside the chipshop as you make your way home, and that girl in the Abercrombie & Fitch shirt, hitch up her miniskirt to take a leak in the charity shop doorway. It’ll make you proud to be English. In mine, the knuckle-draggers will be on to “how the fuck can Arry be England manager when Tottenham are a bag o shite ?” (another perennial.) And like the Royal Jubilee or London 2012, I shall ignore all that, sup gently on my pint and wait for it all to be over. Bring on the Ryder Cup.