Category Archives: association football

Macron’s display of vulgarity

Dalrymple writes:

Emmanuel Macron’s vulgar and undignified conduct in the stadium in which the World Cup victory took place was no doubt intended to demonstrate that, contrary to the impression that he has so far given his countrymen (our builder in France calls him Napoléon IV), he is a human being, possessed of the same emotions and tastes as M. Dupont as he drinks his pression on the café terrace and as les jeunes on their outings to Les Halles. It won’t work for long.

Les Halles

Repressed fascist longings of today’s Germans

Only Habermas can save them

Dalrymple writes that one of the justifications for the European Union’s drive towards what it calls ‘ever closer union’ is

the denial or reduction of national feeling.

On this view,

expression of any national patriotism leads inevitably to xenophobia, conflict, and war. Love of one’s nation is inseparable from hatred of others.

A praise-singer of this attitude is Jürgen Habermas, who,

no doubt through fear of his, or his compatriots’, inner Nazism, wants to replace attachment to nation with attachment to supranational constitutional arrangements that will presumably have to cover the entire earth, if conflict between blocs is to be avoided.

To bring this about

would require the suppression for many years of the kind of emotional loyalty displayed during the World Cup. The suppression of such loyalty except in the context of sporting competitions might, however, be very dangerous: indeed, might bring about the very dangers that it was supposed to avoid.

Dalrymple notes that the rules of the competition governing the nationality of players provide that

no player having once played for a national team may change to another, for fear that he might change for the sake of mere economic advantage, rather than from any genuine attachment to his new nationality.

Thus, says Dalrymple,

football authorities take nationality more seriously than do national authorities.

The Trading Bloc Cup

Thrilling

Imagine, writes Dalrymple, a football match between a team representing the European Union and one representing, say, NAFTA, or ASEAN.

Would anyone take the slightest interest in the result, or be either pleased or downcast by it?

He notes that human feelings are mutable, so he supposes that

it is possible that one day emotions similar to those that millions feel for national teams might attach to teams representing supranational organisations.

But

I suspect that that time is a long way off. For the moment, we’re stuck with national sympathies and passions, which perhaps is just as well. Genuine patriotic attachment to whole blocs of nations would bring us close to the situation imagined in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Silly footballer panegyrics

The hold, writes Dalrymple, that association football has

not only on the popular imagination but on that of the leaders of society, at least if their public professions of interest in it are to be believed, is wholly bad.

Hyperbole about mere footballers

reflects the regime of bread and circuses under which we live.

Dalrymple looks back

with nostalgia to the days when footballers were just footballers, and not, in the opinion of journalists, the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Fillon sounds false note of national self-congratulation

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-01-42Dalrymple observes that anyone who would be a candidate for the French presidency must write, or have ghost-written for him, a book, just as anyone who wants to be Britain’s prime minister must pretend to be a fan of some soccer team. This is not to say that the French are better at writing books than the English, or that the English are better at football than the French (for a start, English players tend to drink too much the night before the match).

Zowat elke persoon die Frans presidentskandidaat is, vindt het noodzakelijk om een boek te schrijven. Net zoals iedereen die in Groot-Brittannië premier wil worden, moet doen alsof hij voor een of ander Brits voetbalteam supportert. Dat wil niet zeggen dat de Fransen beter zijn in boeken schrijven dan de Britten, net zo min dat de Britten beter voetballen dan de Fransen. (Om te beginnen zijn Britse voetballers geneigd om veel te veel te drinken de avond voor de wedstrijd.)

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-25-51One of the things Dalrymple finds annoying in books written by French politicians who hope to win election is the tone. It is one of national self-congratulation. The books refer to France as the country of human rights, in the same way as many Britons believe that the world envies them their health. Nobody is jealous of Britons for having miserable health and terrible hospitals, and the greatest of Francophils would hardly think of France as the country of human rights.

Een van de zaken die ik irritant vind aan boeken geschreven door Franse politici die hopen om verkozen te geraken, is de toon die je er in vindt: één van nationale zelf-felicitatie. De boeken verwijzen naar Frankrijk als hét land van mensenrechten. Precies dezelfde soort van mythe als die van de Britten die geloven dat heel de wereld hen hun gezondheidszorg benijdt. Niemand is jaloers op de Britten hun miserabele gezondheidszorg en verschrikkelijke ziekenhuizen en niemand, zelfs niet de grootste francofiel in de wereld, denkt over Frankrijk als zijnde hét land van de mensenrechten.

People who love France think of her landscapes, her towns and villages, her gastronomy, her literature, her savoir-vivre, her intellectual achievements, in short, her civilisation — in fact, everything except her human rights.

Mensen die houden van Frankrijk, houden van het land omwille van haar landschappen, haar steden en dorpen, haar keuken, haar literatuur, haar savoir vivre, haar intellectuele verwezenlijkingen… Kortom omwille van haar beschaving – in feite alles, behalve haar mensenrechten.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-09-03

From P.G. Wodehouse, The Aunt and the Sluggard (1916)

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-04-20

France has a ‘universal vocation’, according to François Fillon. Dalrymple is allergic to nonsense of this kind.

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One of the greatest national emergencies of our time

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 23.27.26Dalrymple reports that the baldness of Wayne Rooney, the footballer, is returning,

despite the many thousands of pounds that he has spent on hair transplantation.

Dalrymple comments:

As Tony Blair said so memorably at the outset of his career as prime minister, we are a young country. Can we seriously afford to have a balding man playing for our national team? Not, of course, that it is very good at what it does.

Rooney ruefully touches the hair of a fellow player in the national team after England's defeat at the hands of Iceland (population 330,000) at the 2016 UEFA European Championship

A rueful Rooney, who suffers from alopecia, enviously examines the full head of hair of a fellow national squad member after England’s defeat at the hands of Iceland (population 330,000, about that of the single English city of Coventry) at the 2016 UEFA European Championship

Dalrymple’s H.M. Bateman moment

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 20.59.07Dalrymple is asked on a radio programme whether fox-hunting,

being brutal and primitive, has a bad effect on the character and behaviour of those who practise it,

and if so, whether this bad effect

justifies outlawing it.

Dalrymple replies that

any such effect, if it exists — which, given the elaborate rules and ritual governing fox-hunting, is most unlikely — is of tiny social significance compared with the bad effect that football exerts on both its practitioners and its audience.

There is a stunned silence in the studio.

It was as if I had gone to Mecca and said there was no God.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 20.58.47Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 19.52.51Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 21.01.46

‘I don’t care what you all say: there is no God and Mohammed is not His prophet’

The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.

Compulsory footballer panegyrics 

World-historical figure

World-historical figure

The hold, writes Dalrymple, that association football has

not only on the popular imagination but on that of the leaders of society, at least if their public professions of interest in it are to be believed, is wholly bad.

Hyperbole about mere footballers

reflects the regime of bread and circuses under which we live.

One silly newspaper headline reads: Cruyff, father of the modern game who shaped Dutch culture. The question that is not asked, says Dalrymple, is

what kind of culture it could be that could be shaped by a mere footballer.

Dalrymple looks back

with nostalgia to the days when footballers were just footballers, and not, in the opinion of journalists, the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

The secret of the British economic problem

English cuisine

Emetic: English cuisine

A service economy without the service

The British no longer have the faintest idea how to prepare or serve food, either in establishments they are pleased to call restaurants or in their own homes. According to W. Somerset Maugham, the only solution when in England is to eat breakfast three times a day. But the English can no longer manage with minimal competence even to prepare a halfway-decent breakfast.

British eating houses, bar-grills, cafés and other places where dining (of a kind) goes on, from the humblest truck-stop to the most exalted, starred restaurant, are easily the worst in Europe. It is better, for example, to go to bed hungry than to risk an evening meal at, say, an English public house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 09.59.02

Suburban Tudor

The Moon Under Water it isn’t

Dalrymple is reminded of this when, hungry one evening and with no other dining establishment in the vicinity, he enters a pub (which, like many from the 1920s and 1930s, is built rather pleasingly in the suburban Tudor style), and is greeted by

the flashing lights of fruit machines

and

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.45.20numerous large flat screens disposed in such a way that it was impossible to escape them. It was as if one had a duty to watch.

Drivelscreens

At least, he says, they

were all showing the same thing — a football match, football being a 24-hour activity.

Dalrymple dare not complain. British popular culture is

crude, unpleasant and inescapable; if you criticise it, you are taken for an enemy of the people.

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The smell in the pub

was of stale beer and even staler fat in which standard British prolefood had been fried.

He peruses

the grubby menu, a triumph of quantity over quality. The fish dish was called The Codfather, size trumping taste. Everything came with chips, of the frozen variety.

Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l’oignon à l’anglaise

The table is

sticky and long unwiped.

Dalrymple orders soup. It is

packet soup which had not been properly dissolved, so that it had little balls in it that if bitten exploded into a kind of salty dust.

He orders steak, and asks for it to be rare. When it comes, it

would have been regarded as incinerated in any other country.

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

The fried mushrooms

contained at least their own weight in fat of some type.

The next morning

I woke with a strange and unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The meal

The flashing lights of fruit machines

The flashing lights of fruit machines

wasn’t even cheap.

This is the vital point. British food is not just atrocious — it is execrable value.

During the meal,

the man who had taken my order came over to my table.

Everything all right?‘ he asked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.02.01‘Yes, very good,’ I replied.

Dalrymple concludes:

The slovenliness, the bad quality, my pusillanimity: voilà the secret of the British economic problem.