Glad that the bloody band was banned

Supporting (or even having a casual interest in) England's workmanlike football team has long been a source of agony, interspersed with occasional cruel glimpses of hope, which have been dashed at every turn. The last time England won anything was before substitutes were introduced, and goalkeepers probably still smoked and ate cream cakes during the game. Football of that era is now so distant is is incomparable with the modern game. So, in reality, England have never won anything in terms of what football is now.

They have been particularly poor in European competitions, with their best performance in the modern era being the semi-final appearance in Euro '96, which ended in inevitable penalty defeats to ze Chermans and caused brainless thugs to smash up any car that sounded vaguely German, including Volvo(!). Since those relatively halcyon days, England performances have mainly been confined to squandering possession, huffing and puffing a lot and smashing hopeful shots into the stratosphere from 60 yards. Then 'plan B' usually starts 10 minutes after kick-off as they wilt in the heat; and involves either the goalie or centre-half lumping the ball onto the noggin of some guile-less forward.

I'm not overwhelmed by how England play, and that much is pretty evident from my previous paragraph, I guess. So I was pleasantly surprised by England's performance against the cowardly and supremely arrogant French in the opening group game. They did attempt to run with the ball (a technique those in the continent call 'dribbling') and even strung about 5 passes together before panicking and letting the other team have a go. Hodgson seems to have them well-drilled and has given license to the few decent players we possess to do something inspirational. The atmosphere seemed better, too; and then it dawned on me: The bloody England band was conspicuous by its absence.

South Africa 2010 was obviously the worst world cup ever, marred as it was by the sound of a billion vuvuzelas being blown by the locals and well-meaning foreigners adopting the 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mantra. It was bloody awful. Every England game in recent memory has been marred in the same way, by the stupid England supporter's band. They are shite. If I wanted to hear the 'Great Escape' theme being torturously rendered 100 times in the space of 90 minutes then they would be the best band ever, but unfortunately I don't so they aren't.

Synonymous with failure, the band are all that can be heard as England are assailed by superior passing, movement and technical ability, which hushes the crowd to worried murmurs. Then, like an unwelcome phoenix, the sound of tinny trumpets and inexpertly banged drums rises to fill the panicked void, punctuated by the occasional half-hearted cry of 'England', as the sozzled supporters empty their bowels while the pressure builds. The band do not help matters at all. They merely annoy those watching the game on the telly, and they must make the supporters in the ground want to kill them.

So thank god then (for I now believe that there is a god, based on this act of benevolence alone) That the Ukrainian security did not let the band ruin yet another football match. They quite rightly told them to fuck off, which was a genius move. Hopefully they will not be allowed to play ever again. The band is basically a collection of trumpet players who can't play the trumpet, and drummers who cannot drum in time with each other. There is something quintessentially English about that, and it is something outmoded and embarrassing we need to discard, like racism or the royal family.


A Right Royal pain in the arse

There are certain things in life which I know other people enjoy, but which I hate. OK, perhaps 'certain things' doesn't quite encapsulate my rather broad distaste of pretty much everything, but then I don't care. I have never really had much affection for the Royal family, because they are as irrelevant as they are costly. They all have the look of a family who has intermarried one time too many. Yet, apparently what makes us all so quintessentially British, is the fact that we are ruled by a bunch of slightly mutated and deranged Germans.

I also have a long-held distaste of any live music events, and - more specifically - festivals. Again, I know that there are people who like nothing better than decamping into a shit-riddled field to stand in torrential rain listening to some pretentious band belt out their tunes. It probably helps that festival goers are off their faces at the time, either by chemical means, or just 'high on life' as they jump up and down to some insipid Coldplay number, listening to Chris Martin trying to anaemically sing his way through yet another advert-friendly anthem.

So, above, are 2 things I have very little time for. Unfortunately, both were to fatefully collide on the bank Holiday monday just gone as I was ushered to a bloody park against my will, ostensibly to watch a bunch of geriatrics perform for another geriatric who has had the serendipitous fortune to have her pampered arse wiped by the state for 60 long years. Standing there in a muddy field, packed with people I just wanted to murder in horrific ways, I then realised that the 'concert' I had been hoodwinked into attending was not a concert at all, instead, we would be watching a large telly in the middle of a soggy field, for reasons which defied all logic.

For over 3 hours, I witnessed people cheering and whooping at a bloody telly. I concede that the telly was pretty big, but it was still just a telly. The acts on the telly couldn't hear the responses, but yet the cheering continued. To rub salt into the wound, it wasn't like we were watching some exclusive broadcast of the event - they just piped regular BBC 1 (not even HD) onto a big bloody telly. There were even the type of glitches you have come to expect when watching a 'freeview' service, and there were a few occasions where the picture was lost all together, with an error message being booed at by thousands of inebriated orangutans.

I was bored. I spent some time playing games on my phone, then I realised that I had just one game. I looked at my watch continuously. Time didn't advance. I tried to guess what part of London people came from by only their appearance. The West Londoners had posh faces and big hair and goofy teeth and ethnic jewellery. The South Londoners all looked like they should be in prison. The East Londoners were all orange and walked like Danny Dyer. The North londoners all looked like utterly pretentious little cunts who deserved the slowest and most painful of deaths.

That amused me for an hour, then I spent the last hour scenario planning, and wondering when we could leave to avoid the mental rush to the tube. Thankfully, Paul McCartney came on. As the granny-faced weasel played some good Beatles records interspersed with some terrible Wings ones, I frogmarched my 'posse' to the tube and we left. At least there won't be another sodding Jubilee for 10 years.