Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The problem with supporting England

There's an explosion of sport this summer and at the moment it's currently football's turn to hold the spotlight with the Euro 2012 championships.

To tell you the truth, International tournaments are one of the few times I take an interest in football - the rest of the time it seems over hyped. But at least when the Euros or the World Cup comes about I pretend at least to understand football.
There's a joke involving light bulbs in here somewhere...
It's not always easy to support the England team though. The players themselves are mostly a bit bland and at worst the kind of attack dogs you'd like to set loose in the House of Commons. That would be acceptable if they played interesting football but sometimes the matches can seem to last an eternity. There are occasional flashes of brilliance but it often fades very quickly and all too frequently everyone seems to latch their hopes onto one player (a look at the number of column inches dedicated to him today I'd say it's currently Rooney). This doesn't stop the complete loss of sanity when England do win a match and the pundits begin screeching about how we can now win the whole tournament.

There is also the problem of the England supporters band. This collection of drum beating fat men with brass instruments make the matches torturous with their four track playlist which comprises the Great Escape theme - Seriously? They play this at every match. It only works when we're playing Germany and even then the war ended over 77 years ago. Move on - Carnival De Paris (which is French), Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen. Interestingly however, the band was not allowed to play at England's first match in Ukraine and this received a more positive reaction from the fans than I was expecting.

The national anthem itself is another issue. All rise for the most droning and dull national anthem ever written. Don't be fooled by the patriotic chest beaters, not even the insanely proud Englishmen actually know the second verse of the national anthem (we just put it on the UK Citizenship test to scare off immigrants). Even the other home nations of the UK have better national anthems. Scotland has Flower of Scotland, Wales has Land of My Fathers, which are both superior to the monarch fawning bilge we have.  Watching the players sing it is also a grim experience as they either mumble it like they are tripping over their own lips or bark it like an angry Sergent-Major.

Advertisers love to really get behind "our boys" too. During this time we often get bombarded with brands that love to emphasize the passion, bravery, glory, pride and other nauseating cliches that are carted out for nationalistic purposes. For some reason though any radio advert following this form has to be voiced by a dull sounding middle aged London cabbie, who'll probably be croaking out more emotion about the English football team than on his wedding day. Men are strange like that. It's no surprise the Welsh and Scots get utterly sick of us for the duration (although this could just be annoyance at the fact their teams never qualify for tournaments) as they are bombarded with English propaganda like this.

Supporting England isn't perfect. I know it but I'll still support them in world tournaments, why not eh? Maybe one day we'll even win something.



Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Saying it with sausages

As many of you have noticed there is a new kid on the block when it comes to talking dogs. Joining the hallowed prestige, alongside the likes of Scooby Doo and Goofy, is Alan the Walls Sausages dog.

"Alwight! I'm here to save you blokes from yourselves."

Alan is best described as a cross between Droopy and Mike Skinner from the Streets. He brings an interesting, if blunt, message that men love sausages to the point of emotional speechlessness.

Our new friend takes on the tricky role of expressing male emotions when sausages are served for dinner. As the blokey receivers of the meaty feast puff their faces up with tears and joy, Alan springs into action and saves the day with a rap.  

I suppose it is at the other end of the emotional scale to when men become hyperactive with joy when confronted with a room full of beer. Sausages are obviously associated with more stoic male emotions (possibly proving a lot of extreme feminist theories true in the process).

Perhaps I'm just coming to terms with my own identity - I'm just a bloke really after all - but I was left asking myself: is that it? Stick a plate of meat in front of us and we well up with emotional inarticulacy; assuming of course we had any articulacy to begin with. Is that what masculinity boils down to? Perhaps it's sad fact we don't have handy helper like Alan in real life? It would at least save the embarrassment of having to express ourselves by blubbing into a bacon sandwich once in a while.

In all fairness women haven't had the best portrayal in adverts (this is an intentional understatement before anyone gets overexcited) over the years, to the point that some are laughable when viewed today. Maybe it's man's turn to receive this belittling treatment. WKD certainly set a high watermark with their sketches about bantering pricks.

Is it just me or does anyone else miss the dog who used to infuriate his master by saying 'Walls' instead of 'sausages'? It involves less reflexivity about my identity our identities as men for sure.