A Little Englander’s Rough Guide to Foreigners
A Little Englander’s Rough Guide To Foreigners – Everything You Wanted To Know About Europe But Couldn’t Be Bothered To Ask
Spain. Portugal. Greece. Until recently, just sunny places to go for your summer holidays. Now, harbingers of economic doom. Drowning men of Europe who are going to drag us under with them if we’re not careful.
The threat from across the Channel is bearing down on us like a drunken stepdad with his belt in his hand. Crossing your fingers and hoping his trousers fall about his ankles and trip him over before he reaches you is not enough. Knowledge is power. Having just completed a correspondence course in Xenophobia from the London Cosmopolitan University (formerly Cable Street Comprehensive, Limehouse, Isle of Dogs), I am in an ideal position to furnish you with the knowledge you require.
Remember, these words are ammunition. Load them well.
PART ONE: AT HOME
The nation who, so legend has it, invented copper wire when two Scotsmen had a fight over a penny. Well, it’s either an old legend or something I saw on a Billy Connolly DVD. Either way, it doesn’t matter. In reality they are so generous that it’s not so much a fault as a pathology. Try walking around Whitley Bay during Glasgow Fortnight without a Clydeside tourist forcibly buying you a drink. It’s bloody impossible. Better yet, try staying at a Scottish home without suffering combined cholesterol and alcoholic poisoning from excessive hospitality. You’ll be fed fried food exclusively from dusk til dawn and you’ll be expected to wash it down with neat whisky.
The Scottish are more mental than the Irish and the English put together when it comes to fisticuffs. Hadrian’s Wall had no chance of keeping them out. They assumed there was a really good party on the other side and the tanked up cunning of the habitual drinker did the rest. Top boys.
National Sports: Drinking and myocardial infarction.
To paraphrase GK Chesterton: “The men who God made mad/All their wars are merry but all their songs are sad.” Lyrical and friendly people. More poets and writers per square mile than any other country. Millions of them died during the 19th Century because there weren’t any potatoes but then poets and writers have always been notoriously fussy eaters. Great company as long as you don’t try to tell them what to do in their own country. They tend to put down the quill and parchment and pick up the Armalite and the Semtex if you do. At their most dangerous when they’re singing.
National Sport: Hurling (or hurling Molotov cocktails, depending on the time of year)
Ah, the Welsh. They hold Eisteddfods to celebrate their culture but at the first opportunity they trot across the border as fast as their bandy little legs will carry them. They also seem to think they are the original Celts or something. Despite the fact that the Celts came from France. Even the Cornish have a better claim to that title. At least the pastie munching tin miners had the good sense to let their stupid arsed language die out 200 years ago.
Oddly enough, when it comes to swearwords the Welsh had to borrow the likes of “Twat”, “Cunt” and “Bollocks” from English. Don’t quite understand why. Mind you, they do say if fish could speak, it wouldn’t have occurred to them to invent a word for water.
National Sport: Getting out of Wales by any means necessary.
God’s chosen people. An all but divine race placed so close to Europe to give them all something to aspire to. He even provided us with a moat in the form of the English Channel, to stop the jealous bastards from trying anything. Ok, the Normans caught us on the hop in 1066, but that was because we all had colossal hangovers from celebrating our win at the Battle of Stamford Bridge the week before. More fool them really. We’re like The Borg. We just assimilated them, found out their weaknesses and a couple of hundred years later, Bang! Agincourt.
The Irish have all the poets and writers; we have all the inventors (Michael Faraday, Frank Whittle, James Dyson etc etc.)And don’t forget we invented the all -conquering English Language. The Empire may be a memory, but our beautiful language continues to rule the world, no matter how much the Americans try to twist it into some sort of unrecognizable balloon animal. The only nation in the world which truly understands beer and fish n chips simultaneously.
National Sport: Football and being fantastic.
PART TWO: AWAY
Let’s start with the obvious one. No, not the Germans; we only started fighting them fairly recently. We have, however, been at war with the French on and off for the last 1200 years. Despite the Entente Cordiale, we fucking hate each other.
That said, I’m not going to rise to the bait. I’m just not. I could trot out all the old jokes, but it’s just too easy and you probably know them all anyway. Besides, the hosting servers would probably collapse under the sheer weight of their numbers. So let’s just state the obvious: they are craven cowards who pick on the weak and run away from the strong.
When Winston Churchill made his famous “We will fight them on the beaches…” speech, nearly all the key words he used in it were of Old English origin. There was only one word which was of French descent. Can you guess which one? It was preceded by the words “We shall never..”. That’s right, surrender.
So it’s only appropriate that we use a good old fashioned Anglo-Saxon sum up the French: Cunts. With a capital C.
National Sport: Eating things that even the Germans would be ashamed to turn into sausages.
It’s a funny little place right in the middle of Europe and it’s famous for producing only three things of any historical note. The Von Trapp Family Singers, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adolf Hitler. Oh, and possibly Leibach, though it’s unclear as to whether they are Austrian or German. Other than that, lots of forests, metal production, skiing and schnitzel, whatever the hell that is.
National Sport: Denying that Hitler was born there
You would think that any country divided into the Flemish and the Walloons was invented by Jonathon Swift but cut from the final draft of Gulliver’s travels for being a bit too silly. You would be wrong. It’s very real and it’s called Belgium. The Belgians love taxation, they love chips and they love mayonnaise and seafood. Above all they love bureaucracy, so it’s no surprise that their capital, Brussels, is the epicentre of the political earthquake that is the EU.
Douglas Adams saw the country’s name as the ultimate in intergalactic swearing. On the plus side though, their street are scrupulously clean and their porn is notoriously dirty. So the jury is still out.
National Sport: Opening 24 hour pubs and then sitting in them just drinking coffee. Bastards.
It’s not really produced a great deal of note since the mighty Norsemen poured out of it a thousand or so years ago. In the last hundred years or so it’s only given us Hans Christian Andersen, Peter Schmiechel and Brigette Nielsen’s tits. However, Denmark’s contribution to the Great English Breakfast, in the form of Danish Bacon and Lurpak butter, cannot and should not be underestimated.
National Sport: Unconvincing attempts to maintain that they are still Vikings.
The Dutch are the Canadians of Europe. They’re too nice and too reasonable and so it’s perfectly natural not to trust them. Any nation who views The Guardian as right wing propaganda is burying some sort of deep collective unpleasantness. This comes out when they get in their cars. The highways of Holland resemble a clean cut remake of Death Race 2000 and should be avoided at all costs.
We’ve instinctively known about these tendencies in the Hollanders for centuries. This is why anything named after the Dutch is never good. There’s the Dutch Oven (farting in bed and then forcing your partner’s head under the blankets), the Dutch Cap (an unreliable and cumbersome form of contraception), Dutch Courage (not being able to face a situation without the benefit of alcohol), Going Dutch (telegraphing your lack of financial acumen to a potential sexual conquest by having to split the restaurant bill). And of course Dutch Anal Co-eds (a scholarly publication involving education and proctology). Actually, that last one is pretty splendid, but it’s the exception that proves the rule.
Holland is a land where the people live below sea level and they’re obsessed with the colour orange. Drugs are legal and the age of consent is fourteen. The preferred mode of transport is the bicycle and at one point in history, you would have had to sell your entire house to buy three tulip bulbs. If they hadn’t already existed then Edward Lear would have had to invent them for one of his dire limericks.
National Sport: Selling impressionable English students “special cake” then pointing at them and laughing.
I’ll gloss over this briefly. I don’t believe in it. It does not exist. No proper country has an “X” in it. Except for Mexico, which might well be real, but sounds like a profiteering oil company.
National Sport: Being fictitious.
Where do you start in summing up the Greeks? Pioneers of science, medicine, democracy and buggery. Inventors of that great British tradition , the kebab shop. If you haven’t had at least a minor scuffle outside of one of these establishments, then you can’t really claim to have truly enjoyed a great British night out. The Greeks’ early achievements could be said to have started civilization as we know it. The large doner with extra chilli sauce could equally claim to have finished it off. The Alpha and Omega of good and bad behaviour.
National Sports: Philosophy, indigestion and financial brinkmanship.
A land made up almost entirely of forests. A proud heritage of trade and production. A turbulent history of conflict and turmoil. And what do they force us to remember them for? Boring cars, ABBA and meatballs that hoover all the moisture out of your mouth. The way some people piss on their proud past makes me want to puke.
National Sport: Torturing other nations’ men by convincing their wives that building flimsy pine furniture with no written instructions is a good way of spending a Sunday afternoon. Or more often than not, several Sunday afternoons.
Nothing of any interest in the South of this God forsaken ice box. Just wood, paper production and ship building. But the North, well that’s called Lappland. Ok, it is even colder, but it’s were Santa lives! Your actual Santa. They need to improve their postal service though. Not one of my letters has got through since I was eight.
They speak the most complicated language on earth, so miscommunication is rife. This results in them driving around very angrily in their frozen forests. Hence all the rallying world champions.
National Sports: Confusion and holding down fermented herring for long enough to get some rudimentary nutrition from it.
They tried to invade us in 1588, but the Breath of God stopped them. That and the cannonballs and fire ships. Our invasion, which started in the Sixties, was far more successful. Wave after wave of drunken conquerors over the last three generations. Popular with our gangster fraternity, leading to part of the coastline being unofficially renamed the Costa Del Crime.
The women are all gorgeous by the time they’re fifteen, but unfortunately they go to seed by time they are twenty five. This is why 58% of the male population become the tiny arsed, oily seduction engines that are Spanish waiters. The rest are policemen. Or develop a single figure tooth count, get a donkey and support themselves by means best left unknown.
National Sport: Bullkilling. Yes, I know they call it Bullfighting, but it’s hardly a fair contest is it? It’s more like a cross between badger baiting and a gay pride march. Spears, horses, clowns and bloke with a sword wearing a costume so gaudy that even drag queens think the whole thing is just a little bit ostentatious.
Not much is known about Spain’s little brother. They invented rosé wine and they speak a language which seems to be half Spanish and half Chinese. Perhaps this is why they are so inscrutable.
There was a revolution there in the Seventies, the signal for which was the airing of their entry to the Eurovision Song Contest on the radio. I’ve heard it and believe me it’s enough to make anyone take to the streets and start rioting just to get out of earshot.
National Sport: Golf. There are so many golf courses in Portugal that it’s actually possible to walk from one end of the country to the other simply by playing one enormous round.
Once they ruled the known world from their headquarters in Rome. Now they couldn’t rule a line on a piece of paper if you gave them a straight edge and a pencil.. Famous for wine, pasta, the Mafia and being robbed by Noel Coward and Michael Caine. Pretty good at football though.
The women are renowned for their sultry beauty, but unfortunately they blossom and fade even earlier than their Spanish sisters. Except for Sofia Loren, obviously. In fact, in some of the mountainous areas where there is plenty of fresh air to accelerate the metabolism, it’s not unknown for Italian girls to reach menopause before they reach puberty.
During the Second World War, they sided with whoever looked like they might be winning at the time. A bit like Mediterranian Manchester United supporters.
National Sport: Pinching female tourists’ arses, then pinching their handbags.
We bitch and whine about the Krauts, but the truth is that they were our best buddies for centuries up until WWI. After all, our Royal Family aren’t exactly English. Windsor was a name they picked out of a hat as a PR exercise because after The Somme and with the advent of Hitler, their real surname (Saxe-Coburg-Goethe) wasn’t going down too well. If the wrong bit of paper had been plucked from inside the hat, the Queen might now be called Elizabeth Six-and-Seven-Eighths.
The Germans are nationalistic, imperialistic, violent and conceited. Let’s face it, they’re just a humourless version of us in leather shorts. Tom Lehrer summed the situation up nicely in the 1960’s:
Once all the Germans were warlike and mean
But that couldn’t happen again
We taught them a lesson in 1918
And they’ve hardly bothered us since then
So they put towels on the sun loungers at 4am, they voted in Hitler and then tried to take over the world. They marched across Europe and levelled most of our major cities. But how many of us could say, hand on heart that we would have gone against the flow and done things differently given their circumstances? Except for the sun lounger thing. That’s just bloody rude
National Sport: As one of our national newspapers stated on the eve of the 1966 World Cup Final. “Let’s not feel too bad if the German’s beat us at our national sport. After all, we’ve beaten them twice at theirs.
So that’s the EU at a glance. It’s not all of it, of course. If you need to know about Poland then you really haven’t been paying attention for the last few years. As for the likes of Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria etc, it seems that Mr Putin is slyly reforming the Soviet Union, so they’ll be America’s problem again soon enough. Hopefully another Cold war will keep them out of mischief for a bit.
In the meantime however, their less savoury citizens will continue pouring through our leaky borders and they will be selling our sons drugs and pimping out our daughters for a while yet. What with all of our best gangsters sunning themselves in Spain there’ll be no natural predators to see them off.
Never mind, we can rely on our fully staffed and incorruptible police force to protect us.
Come to think of it, Portugal’s not all that bad you know. I’m quite partial to golf. Where did I put that passport?
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013