Friday 2 May 2008

Spotting the English from afar

Roddy Rowdy English

The English have gotten themselves a reputation for raucous rowdiness and public nuisance. I was at the Diana Ross tribute entertainment put up by my hotel which was good enough entertainment with good dresses and acceptable voices.

After a few songs the performers decided to go through a list of countries to find out who was from where – after 10 or so countries with the mildest of responses, I had already responded to the call for those from the Netherlands, then England came up.

There were quite a few and they did make noise louder than every other grouping, but the performers were not convinced because they had that bad stereotype of the England that they first made that perspective clear indicating we are a noisy boisterous bunch and then they called out for England again.

The affected responded to type and that was England revealed and sealed in its doomed reputation – I could not cry for England anymore.

As English as Fish and Chips

However, dinner offers the choice of a buffet of entrĂ©es and either a la carte or a buffet plat principal – the variety of cuisines is extensive covering all the Mediterranean countries, North and South, the Asian continent, Southern American fare and the local boiled salted potatoes with mojo sauce – you just have to try something different each day.

Amidst this feast and a banquet of choices almost unlimited, the idea of being on holiday with a sense of adventure should have your plate radiant with colour and exquisite tastes – amazingly, I could see and identify the English from a long way off – can you believe they only had fish and chips on their plates?

This hotel restaurant does gourmet, it is not some all-you-can-eat Chinese joint in the middle of some tourist street, the salmon gets carved in front of you, the ham comes straight off the shank into your plate, the designs on the large vegetables would make Mexican paintings look like kindergarten finger-painting and they end up with fish and chips – Give me peace.

Ordering vodka by the pint

With the UEFA Champions League final being an all-English affair in Moscow, someone would be trying to convince me that you can separate sports from politics.

Relations between the UK and Russia are not at their most cosy and definitely there are issues between Europe and Russia even though the same Russia is represented in European football as it is in the EuroVision Song Contests.

It would be interesting to see how the Russians process 42,000 visas for the fans of Chelsea and Manchester United – the projection is there would not be enough flights to cart the troops and Moscow does not come cheap – but football does have a fanaticism that is more compelling that cult membership.

The Sun newspaper that I had the misfortune of leafing through yesterday decided to get in on the game of helping the English get along in Moscow with an English-Russian guide that included the statement – Can I have two pints of vodka and a packet of crisps?

That, I would tell you, is the height of irresponsibility on a grand scale for a national newspaper, we have enough problems with the issue of English fans; keeping them sober is the beginning of peace and order – to advocate the serving of vodka by the pint does not serve this cause well at all, it is complete beneath contempt.

Anywhere you go, you will always spot the English, I suppose.

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