Friday, July 02, 2004

As I compose this, hailstones the size of gobstoppers are bouncing around the lawn and it feels as though the sky will crash in. Is this the apocalypse? Not a day goes by without GMTV's lovely Claire Nazir, or the BBC's deeply unpleasant Michael Fish advising us to "make the most" of the morning's uninterrupted sunshine, because it will be followed by band after band of showers driven by galeforce winds, prompting us to feel glad if we don't have to work outdoors. Yes, this has to be the most predictably English summer for years.

It all kicked off with that most English of summer pastimes, the Intense but Short-lived Craze, with the sudden appearance of St. George's flags, en masse, on cars and vans in support of the football team's Euro 2004 campaign. Uncannily enough, this happened almost 20 years to the day since the public took to wearing outsize "Frankie Says" t-shirts in huge numbers. Mind, Frankie's song "Two Tribes" had more clout and staying power in 1984, being number one in the charts for nine weeks. England's exit from Euro 2004 came about within a fortnight. Like the t-shirts though, the flags have now disappeared without trace, and will only be mentioned again by Lisa Rodgers and Kate Thornton in a VH1 nostalgia programme, circa 2012...

England's middle class types have risked all sorts of foul pestilence and the kinds of illness last seen in the middle ages in an effort to commune with nature (i.e., mud) at Glastonbury. Meanwhile, working class youths have got their jollies by kicking each other to a pulp in town centres. Because England were knocked out of Euro 2004. I've just read about a bloke living above a Pizza restaurant giving his opinion of the England/Portugal match to some lads. When he suggested that Portugal had played well, he was thoroughly beaten up for his troubles, then his charming assailants went on to vandalise the restaurant.

No doubt similar spontaneous erruptions of violence occurred in Women's Institute meetings and the Liberty soft furnishings floors of department stores in Chalfont St. Giles and Tunbridge Wells at the news of Tim Henman's annual exit from Wimbledon. The English, so gracious in defeat.

Animosity, sporting failure, rubbish weather. What can complete the circle to make this the most English summer, ever? Oh, hold on - it's the Silly Season News Story. Roadpainters have left so-called "wibbly wobbly lines" along the streets of a New Forest village. Initially, councillors suggested that this had been done as part of a safety initiative, to slow drivers down. Now the council leader has admitted it was all a mistake, a so-English breakdown in communication between management and the labourer. Yes, the painters had been following maps with creases in them.

Keep following the wibbly wobbly lines inside your head. Mine's a cream tea, vicar.

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