Why It's Great to be English

Charlie Gambrill, 5, waits along The Mall, in London, Tuesday June 4, 2002, prior to watching Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family, ride in a ceremorial procession from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's Cathedral, where a thanksgiving service was held to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Remember those old black and white science fiction movies they used to churn out during the Cold War? The ones where some dreadful catastrophe had befallen the earth and the streets were deserted. Not a soul about. That's how it was on Saturday lunchtime here in England, and how it will be again early on Friday morning.

An estimated eighty percent of the nation will be glued to their TVs between seven and ten a.m. It's all about soccer ...about the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, and about three fantastic weeks in which we've rediscovered what it's like to be successful.… and the delight of being modest in triumph.

First came the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. Four days, literally millions of people on the streets and an outpouring of national pride. Then came that Lennox Lewis victory in Memphis. Lennox, courteous as always, after he'd finally battered Iron Mike Tyson into defeat. And then, to everyone’s surprise, our national soccer team has started winning at last …trouncing the Danish team last weekend, but more importantly, our old enemy Argentina the week before. Twenty years ago we went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Since then, they’ve beaten us twice on the soccer field. Revenge was sweet last week, and English flags are flying in every street. But it's not just the winning that has captured us. It's the way we've won. Our boys, trained by a Swede called Sven, behaved like true Englishmen under a hail of abuse from the Argentine team. The English simply shrugged and walked away from each possible confrontation. We’ve seen enough soccer hooligans smashing up city centres. This time, our supporters have behaved like, well, like Gentlemen. And to add to the sweetness, take a look at the French – our long-term rivals across the English Channel – their country seems to be descending into chaos. Their soccer team, former world champions and this year’s favourites, crashed out of the World Cup at the first hurdle… and twenty per cent of their electorate voted for a fascist as President.

You know, it’s great to be an Englishman at the moment