Friday, June 08, 2007

It's Not Cricket

“Why,” asked my wife, “are you always poking a stick at the English?”
She meant British, but she’s from Texas and, like many Americans, is not heavily into the subtle nuances of the thing.
It gave me pause for thought. Then I realised that it was simply because the Brits are such an easy target. All one has to do is to read the morning papers and, voila, you have enough material for a complete comedy show.
There is no other nation, certainly not in Europe, that has, what is often referred to, as freedom of speech. Every paper and Internet news site, having dug up some scurrilous bit of “news,” invites comments from its readers and there is no IQ test of the contributor before they publish.
“Can’t you find something snide to say about the Spanish, Germans or French for a change,” she continued.
So I turned to the French press. And all I could find was news.
Le Figaro was about the most entertaining. They did have a small piece on the release of Paris Hilton, without much in the way of comment, and a cartoon of George Bush and Angela Merkel with Pinnochio-like noses, but that was about it for fun. Not much to go on there and there wasn’t even a space for me to get my comments published.
And the French government are, well, just plain boring. No Patricia Hewitts, John Prescotts or junior ministers anxious to stick warning labels on every bottle of plonk or to interfere in the life of the family. It’s enough to give anyone writer’s block.
So sadly I had to revert to the British.
Cricket was a dignified game when I went to school over there and, as I now have to follow the game, courtesy of the media, I turn to the BBC website to read the over by over commentary. But no longer are there the John Arlotts, Rex Alstons or Brian Johnstons contributing. Now the stuff seems to be written by some retarded juvenile, obsessed with his own importance, who, once in a while mentions the state of play, but who spends most of the time publishing inane E-Mails he has received from equally obnoxious viewers.
The Guardian newspaper is even worse and only the Daily Telegraph has the good sense to restrict itself to printing the scorecard.
It was, I feel, much better in the days when contributions by readers to the newspapers were largely from retired military men, usually signing themselves, “Disgusted, Hove.”
At any rate, they knew how to spell and that you began sentences with a capital letter. Also, players were not called Vaughny, Belly, Straussy and suchlike schoolboy appellations.
Have to go now to write a letter to Le Figaro about their cartoon. I’ll be signing it “Dégoûte, Saumur.”



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