English govt and football both feature no-names 'causing untold mischief'

7:34 pm on 11 July 2018

By James Nokise*

As David Bowie and Freddie Mercury once sang: "People on the Streets! Eee da dee da dee! People on the Streets! Eee da dee da dee da da da!"

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Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel offers a jersey of his nation's football national team to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: AFP

It's now four days since Russia was knocked out of the World Cup and everyone still seems to be alive, so this could just be one of the great tournaments.

To be in London last Saturday, during that precarious final half hour was to feel a populace pushed to their psychological limit.

British Stress Levels, in order, go: Surviving the Blitz; surviving a World Cup penalty shootout; and arriving late to a dinner.

And that's only because people who survived the Blitz are still around to remind people.

What a day to be in London!

There's a heatwave, the French are in a World Cup Final, the English may join them, and the British Cabinet is using the euphoria to abandon ship at record speed.

The similarities between the English football team and cabinet are striking. Both feature people you've never heard of causing untold mischief in Europe and surprise to the rest of the world. Both have fans who seem willing to cause property damage around England in celebration of the country's glory. Both have a captain who believes they'll still be around for Saturday.

But where the footballers have shaken that greatest of World Cup monkeys - the dreaded penalty shootout - the government is scoring some visceral own goals.

David Davis, the Brexit minister, has resigned over Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to depart the European Union. Foreign secretary and perennial Trump impersonator Boris Johnson has resigned days after pledging support. The new Brexit minister, Dominic Rabb, has no photos (none, at all) where he doesn't look like he's killed before, and will again.

Two of the biggest twitter trends in the UK are #Brexitshambles and #Brexitchaos.

But none of that matters today because football is coming home! Or, at least, it might if England can get past Croatia.

It's hard to put this into context for Kiwis. Imagine only winning the Rugby World Cup once, 50 years ago, and the closest you've come is a semi-final you were in 28 years ago.

No footballing nation has the sport fanatic-to-sporting disappointment ratio to match England.

Much like Brexit, World Cup success depends on the unlikely capitulation of two European powerhouses. Both also have London bracing for either exultation or commiseration, and unsure which state will be more physically damaging to the city.

How will they top this excitement? Well, Donald Trump is about to pop over and apparently thinks he'll dodge abuse in London by visiting the famously friendly and non-political folks of Scotland. For an excellent example of that hospitality, check out the Glaswegian comedian, and occasional New Zealand visitor, Janey Godley:

And if somehow the English pull off tomorrow then the stakes will be taken to new extremes on Saturday. Especially when half of Cabinet shows up in the stands.

Bring on Trump!

British activists created a giant baby Trump balloon to take part in protests against the US president in London on 13 July.

British activists created a giant baby Trump balloon to take part in protests against the US president in London on 13 July. Photo: AFP

*James Nokise is a Billy T Award-shortlisted New Zealand comedian.

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