“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to Fly by those nets.” 
James Joyce

In defence of 'Anyone But England'

In defence of 'Anyone But England'

Unless you’ve been living in an abandoned mineshaft for the past month, you’re probably aware that there’s a football tournament on. It’s called the World Cup. Quite popular too by all accounts.

Anyway, England have managed to qualify for the quarter finals for the first time since 2006.

Not only that, they did it by winning a penalty shootout. Something they’ve never done in a World Cup. So well done them I guess. I know all this because I watched the match.

I’d still know it even if I hadn’t watched, because it was the top story the morning after on the BBC Breakfast Show and on the front page of Every. Single. Newspaper. Even The Scotsman.

Which would all be absolutely fine if England was an independent nation and not just a part of a larger union. But it really gets on my wick that the entire UK media’s assumed position is that everyone is English.

It should go without saying that a lot of people in the wider UK couldn’t give two balls of roasted snow whether they win or lose and in some cases actively pray for their exit from the tournament.

I am one such person. When an England player manfully steps up to the penalty spot, the hopes and dreams of a nation on his shoulders, then blasts his effort into orbit?

I live for that shit.

Hook it to my veins. Pin my eyelids back and play it on a constant, never-ending loop forever.

On such occasions, I close my eyes and picture the legions of fans in every pub and fanzone across the land, faces frozen in abject bewilderment, hands clasped behind their heads in a futile attempt at self-comfort as they fight back tears of crushing disappointment.

It brings a smile to my face. I LOVE IT.

Of course, this is just friendly, good-natured joshing. For the most part.

It’s not like I take it that seriously or anything. For a lot of people, it does go much, much deeper than that, but most have nothing against the team itself. Or even against the majority of the supporters.

But the constant barrage of heaped praise for England that’s shoved down the throats of the entirety of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, is insufferable.

You could make a solid case for it being a form of cultural supremacy, and while that’s certainly a part of it, the sad truth of it is that they simply do not care about us. Which is pretty much the same thing.

And in the case of Northern Ireland, they don’t even know we exist half the time.

Ask yourself though, when was the last time you saw a story, any story – not even sport related - from NI make the front page of every national paper?

How many times have you torn your hair out in frustration at having to pay an international delivery charge for something when the company website says “Free Shipping on UK Orders!”?

How many times have you screamed “go and get the manager then! This is legal tender! People have been killed over this!” to some poor shop assistant in London, only to have the manager then come and look at your Northern banknote like it’s a 404 error message?

That's why it's incredibly galling to see the likes of Ian Paisley Jr defending the refurbishment of Westminster rather than relocating parliament when we're one of the most deprived areas of The Union. Although he did vote to take meals from hungry English kids so maybe that was an attempt at balance.

Just now, while researching this article, I Googled “most deprived areas in UK ” and three articles on the first page of results are “most deprived areas of England.”

If that doesn’t perfectly encapsulate the frustrations of what living in this child of divorced parents limbo state then I don’t know else would.

“But…but England are the only Home Nation in it! You should all be behind us!”

Sorry, but Northern Ireland is the only Home Nation with a border with the EU and that issue was completely ignored in the run-up to the Brexit vote.

In fact now it seems it’s even made some Leave voters not mind if Northern Ireland were to straight up leave the Union entirely.

14-GB14-leave-EU-or-keep-UK-GB14-only-w-logo-768x937.jpg

Anyway, my point is that right now the Prime Minister is refusing to legislate on basic human rights to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the Union, saying that this is a devolved matter, so forgive me if I find the notion that we're all in it together slightly tiresome if not downright insulting.

And folks; before you get up on your high horse about me being “anti-English”, remember that I can say all of this for I am an Englishman.

Well, by birth anyway.

It’s coming home!

Making peace with the Twelfth’s Great Escape

Making peace with the Twelfth’s Great Escape

The NHS at 70: The greatest thing the UK has ever done

The NHS at 70: The greatest thing the UK has ever done