Anorak News | Poles Apart

Poles Apart

by | 2nd, June 2006

It is only in the interests of reporting and context that the Times is forced to mention that line, as delivered by Basil Fawlty to a table of German tourists.

Indeed, the Times is nothing if not thorough and in this era of journalism for all and blogging, it is good to see a venerable old newspaper giving over a section to the scene in which the proprietor of a hotel in Torquay commands his staff, “Don’t mention the War.”

But things have moved on. Now the order of the day is for harmony, and not “two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering and four Colditz salads”.

The Times says that John Cleese, who brought Mr Fawlty to the world, is a Germanophile who is backing projects designed to foster unity and banish bigotry.

Says Cleese: “I’m delighted to help with trying to break down the ridiculous anti-German prejudices of the tabloids and clowns like Basil Fawlty, who are pathetically stuck in a world view that’s more than half a century out of date.”

Of course the “Achtung! Achtung” headlines of the tabloid press the preceded England-Germany encounters and songs about Ten German bombers are old hat. And we pity those anachronistic types among us who saw Basil goose-stepping in his hotel and laughed at the German guests and not the Britisher’s inability to let go of the past. Shame on you.

But Cleese is hopeful of making us look to the brave new tomorrow, and he’s backing a new song those jingoistic types on the terraces can sing.

Lay down your inflatable spitfires, stop the Escape To Victory theme tune and give full throat to Don’t Mention The War.

The song includes such lines as: “They might have bombed our chipshop 60 years ago/ But a billion pints of lager later, here we go (come on then!).” And: “Bend that ball round the wall Instead of saving Poland we are scoring goals/ After 40 years of extra time and bacon rolls (bacon rolls!)”

It cannot fail. As Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany’s football-loving Ambassador, says, the World Cup aims to “show that the clichés and stereotypes of the old days are no longer relevant”.

And anyone who says otherwise is sad and pathetic and deserves to be taken outside and shot…

Posted: 2nd, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink