Friday, March 06, 2009

No-one Likes Us - We Don't Care

I was prompted to write this by a blog-friend Ali who just had to have a bit of a rant about a narrow, recent rugby victory. I think she may be Irish. I have no problem with defeat. I'm a Baggie and I'm English for God's sake; I'm used to this. Everyone else loves beating the English more than most other victories. Post colonial cool-down will probably have to last for another couple of centuries before everyone realises we've had our day and no longer wish to run the world. Anyway we can't really work out what English is. Half the time we confuse it with British. Bothered. Well the Welsh, Scots and Irish are. Probably joined by Yorkshire and Cornwall. Oops. Off track.

The thing I wanted to write about is this - and I will need to explain a few terms as we go along. When I started at King Edward VI, Birmingham in 1966, in the Shells, I was put in a house called Vardy.

The houses were all named after former Chief Masters (Head Teachers). The years had titles. Shells were what is now known as year 7. My school had Remove, Upper Middles, 4ths, 5ths, Divisions and Sixths - don't ask. A pupil in the Shells was called a sherring by everybody in any year above. I know it's all a bit Harry Potter but stick with me here.

At the end of my first year there was a prize giving. The house prize was called the Cock House Championship (stop sniggering). Vardy came last. The Chief Master, aware that Vardy had won the Championship for the previous six or seven years in a row, said, '...and how nice to see Vardy in last place.'

Take a moment or two to imagine the fate of a Head Teacher of a school still doing competitive games who had the cheek to utter this today. They would be at a disciplinary hearing faster than you could say disciplinary hearing.

I remember sort of wincing and thinking I would like to see my house win again but I was only twelve and pretty soon other things came along to make me less resolute such as cigarettes, skiving and academic inadequacy.

But I think it may have been part of the toughening up process experienced by the hero of the song, 'A boy named Sue.' I got the idea that there are some things you will not be liked for and you can't do squat about it. English. Public school boy. Vardy. Brummie. Baggie. Not proud. Just unable to change and wouldn't want to. Mind you one house was called Prince Lee and their house colour was pink

The person this has delivered to society enjoys criticism in whatever spirit it is delivered, turns off his visual interface when he is concentrating, says what he thinks, often a bit quickly and doesn't mind making unpopular decisions. In fact it never occurs to him that one should even stop to consider making the wrong decision if the right one will hurt someone. He's thick-skinned and expects everyone else to be.

So an England cricket team manages only to draw a test after scoring 600 for 6, the England football team are resolutely about 8th in the world, England rugby teams over achieve at World Cups but are pants the rest of the time and the Baggies are consistently the 21st best side in England and this doesn't really matter.

Enjoy your victories. We know it makes you happy.

The cup for chess was awarded by Viscount Pugh - the Pugh Cup. Say it quickly.


Mr Gnome said...

I'm still shrieking about the Pugh Cup.

My house was Cliffords (after a bishop) and our colour was, the shame, yellow.

We never, ever, ever won anything.

The bliss of leaving school and knowing that never again would such things matter.

Dolly Dill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali said...

Steve, you need to know that we have no problem with defeat either.

Followers of Irish sport have a philosophy: it's not the winning that counts - it's not even the taking part ... win or defeat, it's the celebration afterwards that's important!