During the recent World Cup a couple of my friends in the US sent me this clip from an English newspaper claiming (boasting, more like) that English fans were “drinking Germany dry”:
English people seem to have this strange, unfounded reputation as large beer drinkers. The reality is, in fact, that most of us are virtually teetotal. So an Australian once told me, anyway.
In any event, England exited the competition in their usual tepid fashion, and Germany was left in peace to replenish its beer stocks. I’m assuming that by the time the Final arrived beer consumption had dropped to virtually zero, with all of the French and Italians gearing themselves up instead to drive round and round in cars beeping their horns continuously.
What is it with that? When my wife and I emerged from our local hostelry after the Italians had triumphed on penalties, the whole of Bedford (which seems to have a large Italian community) was a sea of waving flags and honking horns. One car in particular caught my attention: out of one open window was balanced a tape player, blaring out the Italian national anthem, out of all the others Italian flags were waving frantically and the horn, of course, was honking every half a second or so. The average age of the occupants had to be about 75.
The atmosphere generated was good I have to say (though by 2AM it was all wearing a bit thin), but I was just left slightly bemused by this style of celebration. Apart from the French of course, do other nations celebrate like this? Are American towns and cities habitually clogged with honking cars after a famous victory? I know that Canadians are somewhat this way inclined. I was in Toronto when “the leafs” won some pre-first round, pre-qualifying, pre-tournament ice hockey game (I may have made up one of those pre’s) and the city celebrated like they’d won the final. Half naked women danced atop parked trucks. I wish I had the photos to show you.
I just can’t imagine the English celebrating like that. It’s hard to tell of course because we very rarely win anything*, but more than anything else I suspect most of us would be far too drunk to even consider driving anywhere in a car.
*Apart for the Ashes of course, as we like to remind our Australian friends every day or so. What a victory that was.