Categories: West Ham United

20 November 2008

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Germany 1 England 2

I watched the England game last night at the local Stammtisch. Every time Germany touched the ball the Swiss drinkers booed. They banged the table in delight when West Ham’s Pat Upson scored. They were sure the Swiss referee would favour us. (Why was that good?, I remembered to ask myself.) They said it was just like in 1966 when West Ham and a Swiss referee humbled Germany at Wembley. It was England’s glory last night in Berlin. They loved it. So last night on Zurich’s Gold Coast I toasted England’s revival under Italian leadership – with my Swiss neighbours.

When my blood’s up, I have to remind myself to be pro-British and not anti-German. Germany’s at least as nice a place as Switzerland or my own beloved England. Indeed, after reading English news of late, Continental virtues (Swiss, German or any other) can seem quite worthwhile.

Anyway, I’m richly varied. I was once active on the far left. My reasoning of thirty years ago flooded back to me after seeing news of England’s shame in the form of the BNP – neatly put in perspective by . I’m from Dagenham and Romford, white heartland of NF and BNP lumpens. I opposed them in my youth when I used to push fruit & veg barrows on Wentworth Street and Romford markets. My mates were a mixed crowd, and a target of hate. I still despise neo-fascists today. And I do mean “despise”: a sort of visceral loathing that isn’t polite.

And there’s the point: I want to stop the BNP, but my hating them doesn’t help me or hurt them. Time to move on.

But I couldn’t resist sharing this Ian Dury classic. It’s a white and indigenous ditty, by chance. It’s somehow the best of patriotism without the worst. The words and humour of Ian Dury’s Blockheads helped define the spirit of my East End gang. While we were all in Victoria Park on 30th April 1978 to hear Tom Robinson, The Clash, Steel Pulse and others say no to racism, Ian Dury was our local hero, not them. So, for all my Dagenham-mates against the BNP, here goes Ian Dury:

There are jewels in the crown of England’s glory (England’s glory)
And every jewel shines a thousand ways

Frankie Howerd, Noël Coward and garden gnomes
Frankie Vaughan, Kenneth Horne, Sherlock Holmes
Monty, Biggles and Old King Cole
In the pink or on the dole
Oliver Twist and Long John Silver
Captain Cook and Nelly Dean
Enid Blyton, Gilbert Harding
Malcolm Sargeant, Graham Greene (Graham Greene)

All the jewels in the crown of England’s glory (England’s glory)
Too numerous to mention, but a few (but a few)
And every one could tell a different story (different story)
And show old England’s glory something new

Nice bit of kipper and Jack the Ripper and Upton Park
Gracie, Cilla, Maxie Miller, Petula Clark
Winkles, Woodbines, Walnut Whips
Vera Lynn and Stafford Cripps
Lady Chatterley, Muffin the Mule
Winston Churchill, Robin Hood
Beatrix Potter, Baden-Powell
Beecham’s powders, Yorkshire pud (Yorkshire pud)

Billy Bunter, Jane Austen
Ray Ellington, George Formby
Billy Fury, Little Titch
Uncle Mac, Mr. Pastry and all
Uncle Mac, Mr. Pastry and all

All the jewels in the crown of England’s glory (England’s glory)
Too numerous to mention, but a few (but a few)
And every one could tell a different story (different story)
And show old England’s glory something new

Somerset Maugham, top of the form and the Boys’ Brigade (England’s glory)
Mortimer Wheeler, Christine Keeler and the Board of Trade (England’s glory)
Henry Cooper, Mighty Strangler, England’s labour (England’s glory)
Standard Vanguard, spotted dick, England’s workers (England’s glory)

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