Saturday, February 07, 2015

How I stopped fighting and learned to love the English

Love may be a slight exaggeration.

Okay, a huge exaggeration. Better to say ... like? No. Tolerate? No. Not hate? That'll do.
It's not the English per se that I have a problem with you understand. I have nothing against those born and bred in England. It's their misfortune not to be born in Wales but you can't hate them for that. 

No, it's only when it comes to rugby that things get sticky. I've tried to understand and tried to explain here on my blog the emotions that are unleashed every time Wales plays England at rugby but there isn't really a satisfactory explanation.

And it's not just a Welsh thing. A couple of years ago the BBC made a Six Nations* trailer that ended up not being shown but it's still available on youtube.

Everybody wants to beat the English more than anyone else. And that hasn't changed for me - so last night's defeat was a bit of a downer - but ... I am trying to learn to support England against other nations. Husband is English and he's very supportive of Wales - and of me when England beats us - but I've always struggled to cheer for England. Even against France for goodness sake!

Try as I might there's always been that tiny little voice in my head saying, 'Come on, Ireland/Scotland/France/Italy!' And sometimes that's exploded into a celebratory, 'yes!' air punch when the opposition has crossed the line. Quickly changed into a 'Cough, cough, I mean, aw, there's a shame,' as Husband scowls at me.

But then Cardiff City Football Club got into the premier division, joining Swansea, which had been the only Welsh club in it. That's good, you'd think; another club to bring investment, big teams, visitors, money into a very needy South Wales. But not according to Swansea fans.

The gleeful reactions on twitter each time Cardiff then lost a game were shocking and shameful. Of course I can understand inter-city rivalry and when they're playing each other would expect fierce competition and one-up-man-ship but to take delight in the other's downfall just seems wrong.

Still it came as a shock when someone pointed out to me that my intolerance of England could be viewed in the same way. England's our closest neighbour; some of my best friends are English; why not support them? 

So I'm trying. It helps that I quite like captain, Chris Robshaw. And I'm even keeping the English flag that I found upstairs in case England get through to the world cup final. Again.

However if we reach the end of this season and only England or Wales could win the championship (unlikely as that seems at the moment) then, sorry, it's got to be Wales.

*Six Nations: every Spring Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy play a rugby union tournament.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I didn't know husband was English, Liz. You are right - what a misfortune not to be Welsh! I thought Cardiff put on a magnificent show last night, despite the result.x

Graham Hunt said...

It is in your genes. I blame Edward Longshanks - his maurauding through Scotland and Wales putting anyone who didn't accept him as King of all the Britain or accept his latest puppet left a lasting impression. It is funny that the Scots still want independence when if you think logically they won in the end when James VI Scotland James I of England took to the thrown thereby ensuring that the unbroken lineage goes back to Robert the Bruce ... I digress - but seriously I think history like this has much bigger part to play than we give credit to. We may have lost the tradition of bards in the family recounting the tales of forebears in their wars and struggles but I think they are imprinted still on the psyche that now plays out in sport.

One thing I will say - most English if watching Wales, Scotland, Ulster or Ireland in a match not involving England or one of the other home nations will 100% support them. The total hatred leading people to support Argentina over England I find bizarre - I mean on the Falkland Islands with the bullets and bombs were flying the Argentinians never asked if you were Welsh or not didn't they?

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Love the ad. and have to confess to remaining Glaswegian wherever I'm living . Perhaps we're all imprinted at birth ?

Liz Hinds said...

If only the rugby had lived up to the show, Pat!

It truly is in my genes, Graham, although perhaps in a strange way: Edward Longshanks is my 26th great-grandfather! Allegedly.

I think we must be, Sonata.

Graham Hunt said...

Hang on.... does this mean you are royalty Liz? I should have know... ;-)

Liz Hinds said...

I'm from the dark side though, Graham!