Dulltown, Europe: Today’s special guests are the Abraham Lincoln lookalike twins Toby and Chantelle Tudgley. Come on up and sit in your specially made high chairs, that’s it, now peer down at us looking very very stern – oh, that’s brilliant!… (A.L.)
Please insert the name of your own home town in these spaces:
I am proud of coming from . . . .
. . . . is the best place in the world.
Look at my t-shirt, it says, ‘. . . . and proud!’
The people of . . . . are the best people on the face of this God damn earth!…
Do you find this a bit sad? I do… Do you think this nonsense is built into our genes?
I think it must all go back to prehistoric times when heavily muscled chaps would lumber about, swinging their flint axes, shouting, to anyone who would listen, about how their cave is superior to everyone else’s – especially those of the hairy knuckle-draggers who live on the other side of the hill – scum of the earth, they are!…
Even inside cities and towns, people tend to be a bit sniffy about people from a different part of the town from the one they live in – ‘Oh, those ghastly people from East Dulltown! We are much more sophisticated here in West Dulltown!…’
Let’s look at football teams. (‘soccer’ for my US readers) I don’t know much about football, so I am on pretty thin ice here, but surely in times past your local football team was composed of players who lived in your town, and you could go along and shout, ‘Come on you . . . . lads! Put a bit of life into it for God’s sake!…’ and such popular football supporting phrases. But now the players are brought in from all corners of the world; how can you relate to these people? Some jumped-up person with plenty of money has just been out shopping and bought them all. Having the name of a city or town in the team’s name doesn’t really make any sense – the team is just like a business that happens to have its offices in your town.
Now, here’s an odd thing. I remember once sitting at a pub table with a group of friends when this chap, with a Scottish accent, said that his favourite football team was Nottingham Forest FC. I asked him why this was; he said that he had always ‘followed’ them ever since he was a young lad. I asked if he had ever been to the city of Nottingham, and he said that he hadn’t. In my ignorance I asked what he liked about them in particular, and what made them different from other teams – ‘Oh, it’s their style, the personality of the whole team, there is something special about them, they are not like any other team in England…’
‘What? Even after all these years? They are still the same?’ I asked, and added, ‘and how many of the players are actually from Nottingham?’
He responded with, ‘I’m going to get another pint now,’ and he headed off to the bar…
At least it didn’t all end in a bar room brawl with busted furniture and beer and blood everywhere, which I suppose it could have – me and my big mouth!… No one likes an ‘outsider’ stirring things up and introducing an element of logic into ideas and values that are deeply held; it’s a bit like religion I suppose.
I expect this ‘pride’ thing is why humans tend to have wars, and enjoy slaughtering each other every now and again – it’s the knuckle-draggers from the other side of the hill thing again. When these things happen it is always the patriotic stuff that gets trotted out by the government and the media; the love of one’s country, the protection of our values and our unique way of life, etc., so that the young chaps don’t suddenly get the idea into their heads – Shit! You know I don’t really fancy going off to foreign parts to shoot people. Bugger it! I’m not going!… Perhaps there might be another way of settling all this mess – how about a football match? You know, just a ‘friendly’?… Or maybe not…