Saturday, 23 February 2008

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

It is a good job there is no equivalent of Norman Tebbit's 'Cricket Test' in France. I would have failed it miserably tonight. I was delighted the English rugby team whopped the French and doubly delighted Jonny Wilkinson not only did his bit on the pitch but flummoxed a French TV interviewer at the end of the match. Having given a comment in English, Wilkinson was asked if he had anything to say in French. The interviewer clearly expected our national hero to go: "Um, err, no," but quelle surprise, he praised the Gallic side in what my husband described as "perfectly good French".

Norman Tebbit's mythical test was supposed to be one way of discovering whether immigrants or their descendants had abandoned support of their - or their parents' - country of origin and become truly English or British, whatever that meant. Had this happened they would, when asked by some market research organisation, profess their support for England in the World Cricket Series of test matches and not Pakistan or India or Sri Lanka or any of the other sides that usually win. As if.

I do not know about them, but I always support England against France in any sport. I would do so if an English team pitched up for a game of boules against the local team that plays in the park around the corner from us. Years ago, I even put red, white and blue ribbons in my hair and ventured into a French bar to watch an England v France rugby match. We lost and I slunk away unnoticed. Afterwards I realised of course, red, white and blue are also the French team colours so I could have switched sides without anyone noticing.

In my defence, I do feel sorry for the French, and particularly the Frenchman, when France loses. I am writing this quietly and I did not gloat tonight. There are too many times when the Frenchman has behaved graciously when the situation is reversed; in other words, more often than not. There is no equivalent of the Cricket Test in France, but given the plethora of immigration laws being introduced at the moment, I expect there to be one any day. Then I will have to throw myself on the mercy of the Frenchman to not denounce me and have me deported back over the Channel. Besides, in a few hours time we will be woken by drunken English fans chanting, making an inhuman noise supposed to pass for singing and falling over each other in the street outside our flat. When this happens, as it always does whenever there is an England game at the Stade de France, I will not be feeling very patriotic.


Maggie May said...

Had to laugh at you wearing red, white & blue hair ribbons thinking your were supporting England & every one else probably thought you were supporting France.
I am ashamed of the way the British behave when they go abroad to support a football match or whatever.It is a disgrace & Im glad that supporters who really show themselves up are caught on camera.

Anonymous said...

I had an argument last thursday with an Italian who plans to become French, but who strictly separes what he calls "citizen community" and and what he calls "nation". That is he thinks he wants to be French to be allowed to participate in the public debate, but does not want to surrender his "squadra azzura" fanatism.

I don't know if you are French yourself (I mean administratively) but I wonder if you feel French people expect newly naturalized French to feel their national team is France.

Dumdad said...

I've been here 15 years but I've never wavered in my support of England (or Leeds United). Our household is usually divided down the middle on big matches like this with French wife and daughter versus English husband and son. But all very friendly like....

Parisgirl said...

Difficult one, Anon. I can understand your Italian friend separating the right to have a say in who runs his adopted country and spends his taxes from sporting loyalties.

I think the French would like anyone who becomes French to support France