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June 26, 2006

How to Have Fun with an Englishman

“I’m just a smart ass but I’m playing dumb.” - Green Day, "Walking Contradiction"

Once again, I spent a good part of the weekend watching the World Cup. But now that the Americans are done, I’ve resorted to more juvenile amusements – namely, using the tournament to exploit the nationalistic passion of my foreign friends for cheap entertainment.

Two of my running partners are from England. The Brits have high expectations in this year’s Cup, but also have a long history of frustration and underachievement in many previous tournaments. As a result, many Englanders suffer from paranoia and emotional fragility every four years when the World Cup comes around.

One guy who I run with three days per week is in his mid-40s, but spent the first 35 years of his life in London. He also happens to be a raving football fanatic, so you can imagine how easy it’s been for the rest of us to push his buttons this month.

We ran together this morning, and I goaded him into the following conversation:

Me: Hey, I was watching that England game yesterday, and I noticed something. A lot of the English fans were singing America’s “My Country Tis of Thee” song, but putting different lyrics to it…I think it was about a queen or something.

Him: You mean “God Save the Queen?” Our national bloody anthem? You Americans didn’t write it – you stole it from us.

Me (playing dumb): Really? I’m not sure it’s the same one...does your song start, “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty...?”

Him: No! It starts “God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen.” We wrote that song one hundred years before your country was born!

Me: You mean before we beat you in that war?

Him (getting exasperated): It’s our song!

Me: Wait a minute...“God Save the Queen?” I thought the Sex Pistols wrote that song.

Him: Yeah, yeah, yeah...”God save the Queen and the fascist regime and there is no future and England’s dreaming...”

Me (secretly impressed that a 45-year-old knows those lyrics): That’s the one! So that’s what they sing during the games?

Him: No! We sing the ROYAL ANTHEM! It’s called “God Save the Queen,” but it’s not the Sex Pistols song.

Me: They sing it to the tune of “My Country Tis of Thee?”

Him: Yes. I mean no. Its our bloody song!

Me: OK, if you say so... (long pause)...it was a good game, though. England played well.

Him: Aah, they got lucky. They need to play a lot better. They’re just driving me crazy.

Me: Clearly.


Keep in mind, this was the morning after a game that England won. I can’t imagine how he’s going to react if/when England gets eliminated.

Whether they win the Cup or not, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a lot of fun running with my friend for the next couple weeks.


Thomas 6/26/06, 10:16 AM  

Wait! You're American, and he's English, yet YOU did the sarcasm/irony/humour bit but HE didn't get it?

The world is upside down!

backofpack 6/26/06, 12:20 PM  

Donald, you make me laugh out loud. I'm here to tell you, you'd fit right in with our running club! Trash talk, confusion, poking fun, sarcasm, we've got it all.

jeff 6/26/06, 12:23 PM  

hah...you're evil, donald. i love it!

angie's pink fuzzy 6/26/06, 8:14 PM  

what a friend...goading him like that

Mike 6/26/06, 9:53 PM  

"secretly impressed that a 45 yr old knows those lyrics"....hilarious stuff!

Catching up on your blog....the big kahuna eh? I used to spend alot of time in the water up in Santa Cruz but iw as surfing not swimming...swimming 1.2 in those waters would freak me out...the ocean seems so "alive" there if you know what I'm saying!

Darrell 6/26/06, 10:12 PM  

That was too easy, but it sure made me laugh! Funny stuff!

Quizman 6/27/06, 2:10 PM  

What? You didn't mention how their pubs stole the tune for 'Old Anacreon in Heaven?'

craig 6/27/06, 9:45 PM  

What a hoot. Thanks Donald for making my day.

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