Thursday, 27 May 2010

The One That Is Shouting 'GOOOOOAAAAAAL!'. . .

Ahhhh, World Cup year. I do love the World Cup. Always have, I have found it enchanting since I was a little boy. I love the way the players’ shirts shimmer in the hot summer sun (although not this year, it’ll be winter in South Africa), the reaction of the players and supporters of the smaller nations when they cause an upset, or even in some cases just score a goal. I love seeing the unbridled joy of one set of players when they score a victory over their bitterest opponents. I love the almost guaranteed emergence of a new star on the world scene and the drama of the penalty shootout (normally in the Quarter-Finals where England will lose). I love tournament football, there really is nothing like it. You can keep your Monaco Grand Prix, your Olympic Games, Six Nations, Wimbledon, Superbowl, hell, even The Ashes (which I also love), they are all fine events, but none of them compare to the World Cup.

I could write a huge missive about what is wrong with the game, and there’s plenty, but once every four years a large proportion of the country is brought together, collectively willing our players not to make an arse of it in the Quarter Finals against Portugal/Germany/Argentina/Brazil again. It is a good thing.

However there are one or two things in a World Cup year which are equally as predictable as England’s Quarter-Final exit. There will be the tut-tutting about working days lost when England are playing. There will be pursing of lips about the promo offers on booze in supermarkets and pubs. There will be children sent home from school because they’ve copied Beckham’s latest fashion statement (this year it’s called the ‘foot cast’) and someone somewhere will be banned from flying the St. George Cross.

Imagine my shame when I realised that is was my own home town.

Taxi drivers in a Kent city are upset after being told they are not allowed to fly flags from their vehicles during the World Cup football tournament.

Canterbury City Council has said attaching England flags to cabs would breach rules on what can be displayed on public service vehicles.

Why? What bloody harm will it do? No. People won’t get offended. It’s the national flag of England, for crying out loud. You wouldn’t see the same about the Saltire on cabs in Elgin or the dragon in Merthyr, would you?

Larissa Laing, from the council, said: "We accept that many taxi drivers want to be patriotic and we have been fully supportive of them wearing England shirts.

Oh, that’s nice. Isn’t that nice? The nice lady from the council will let the people in their own private businesses wear what they want. A big cheer for her.

"However, it is a public service vehicle and as such there are very strict rules and what can and cannot be displayed on a taxi and sadly an England flag, or any flag, cannot be displayed."

The rules ban any signs, letters, motifs, emblems, or marks from taxis.

Yes. But why? This is one of those we just want you to ask our permission so we can hum and har about it before making a great show of very generously granting the request which you so humbly put before us.

Larissa Laing almost won authoritarian fuckwit of the month. Almost.

The thing is, what do they do in places where there’s no World Cup participation? How does one show one’s absolute idiocy and total removal from pragmatism and reality then? Let’s go somewhere where the team didn’t qualify. Let’s go to Northern Ireland.

There was a policeman, sat in his vehicle, having objects thrown at him by a group of youths. What did he do? Did he shoot them? Did he hit them with his asp? Did he run them down? Did he refer them to an inclusivity outreach diversity community cohesion liaison officer? No. He played ice-cream van music over the speakers of his police car.

Young people were throwing bottles at a Land Rover vehicle in Lisburn last Saturday when the officer used the tannoy to play the tunes.

A police spokesperson said an officer had used humour to defuse the situation and the trouble had stopped.

However, senior officers are believed to have spoken to the officer involved.

I’m hoping that when they spoke to him they said. ‘Well done, you showed initiative, guile and humanity. You are a credit to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.’ I’m betting they didn’t.

Ah, no, they didn’t.

"The youths stopped throwing the bottles. However, police accept that this was not an appropriate action.

"The officer has been spoken to by a senior officer in order to establish the circumstances of the incident."
Hang on, are you suggesting that you wanted the officer to get out to hand out a kicking, running the risk that he’d get one himself, or to sit waiting for backup to arrive and hand out a kicking, whilst running the risk that they’d get into his car and give him a kicking?

Look, I’ve problems with the way policing is done in this country. I’ve a problem with the way some police officers act. Senior officers will back these horrible little SS wannabes to the hilt. Show me an officer who acts in exactly the way we’d all want an officer to act in a difficult situation and you feed him to the lions. Really? Seriously? WTF? Look, these kids deserved a good, hard kicking, but he was obviously on his tod, what he supposed to do?

So we’ll leave the authoritarian fuckwit of the week award to Cllr Angela Nelson (SF):

Angela Nelson told the Andersonstown News that the officer's actions "beggared belief".

"The PSNI are put on the streets to do a serious job and that is to keep order on the streets and face down anti-social elements. This is like a sick joke.

"It goes against everything we are trying to solve and eradicate in the area."

Now, I’ve no love for either side in Northern Ireland, it’s like Israel vs. Palestine but with wetter weather and better music, they can all go to hell, but people still vote for them, so there you go. Anyhow, I’m betting that the kids were Protestant and the SF lot are disgusted that they didn’t get the kicking they so richly deserved, or the kids were Catholic and the Protestant humiliated them instead of calling for the inclusivity outreach diversity community cohesion liaison officer over his radio.

Jesus Christ in a World Cup Willie costume on a pogo-stick, what is wrong with these people?

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