Living in an international community, as we do – and especially one where the majority of our neighbours are German – indulging in jingoism or, indeed, schadenfreude (i.e. delighting in the misery of others) is tacitly off limits.
For instance, certain issues are considered ‘verboten’ and, though the debate over the euro is a red-hot topic, in the best traditions of Basil Fawlty, nobody mentions the war. Either war.
On the one occasion the subject of conflict arose, I was reminded that it was the Prussians, under Gebhard von Blucher, who rode to Wellington’s rescue in the Battle of Waterloo, otherwise we’d all be speaking like the policeman in ‘Allo, ‘Allo. Oops, shades of schadenfreude there, I’m afraid.
However, there was a lack of – er, how shall I put it – Teutonic interest in the Sunday papers at my local newsagents this morning, with a stack of Bilds gathering dust and hardly a Süddeutsche Zeitung, the upright organ of Bavaria, sold.
The cafes and bars, too, were strangely quiet for a Sunday. In fact, I didn’t hear a ‘Ja’ or ‘Nein’ uttered, or, for that matter, did I spot a bristling, handlebar moustache – not even on a holidaying Munich hausfrau.The only German voice I did encounter was one in an English-language radio phone-in, who claimed it took a Chelsea side full of foreigners – notably a Czech goalkeeper (Petr Cech), an Ivorian striker (Drogba) and a Spanish midfielder (Mata) – to beat Germany’s finest.
He neglected to mention the four, key English contributors – Lampard, Ashley Cole, Cahill and Bertrand – and conveniently overlooked the fact that Bayern fielded five non-Germans (Robben, Van Buyten, Tymoschchuk, Olic and Ribery or that Mario Gomez’s dad is Spanish).
Such is the patriotic pulling power of soccer, I could only say to myself, ‘Bah, humbug! What a sour Kraut.’
Apologies to the neighbours, of course, all of whom seemed to be having a lie-in.
PS: Since Bayern couldn’t beat Chelsea’s first team, I thought I’d include a snap of what Chelsea fans consider their ‘dream team’. Maybe Roberto di Matteo will put them out in next year’s Champions’ League final to even up the odds.