Monday 15 October 2007

to reach the unreachable star

In spite of the fact that her mum is from Halifax and her dad is from Stoke, growing up in France has always meant that C's sporting allegiances have generally been pretty clear to her: allez les bleus.

In the old days, when England used to hammer France in the rugby with glorious regularity, I would occasionally receive a phone call at half time asking if she could change sides, but the answer was always no. I think the last time this happened was in the semi-final of the last World Cup in Australia in 2003. We were in a bar in Amsterdam surrounded by enthusiastic Frenchmen, whose excitement at the early Betsen try soon tailed off as their side got hammered in the pouring rain. My philosophy is that if you nail your colours to the mast (and C. tends to wears a France shirt on these occasions), then you have to take the rough with the smooth. Since that morning in Holland though, the French have beaten England more often than not, and it's not an issue that has ever come up.

This has been a rollercoaster World Cup for both England and France, so the semi-final on Saturday night was always going to be an emotional affair. Perhaps it was just as well for our marriage that I was away in Oxford for the weekend, so we weren't able to watch the game together.... a narrow win for England that dumped the hosts out of the tournament and saw the defending champions march on to a final next weekend against South Africa that seemed like a pipe dream only 4 weeks ago.

C's dad may have lived in France for 30 years, but he's definitely an England fan. His son has no interest in sport at all, so I think he quite enjoys having a son-in-law to talk sport with and quite often rings up after a game (cricket, football, rugby.... anything will do) to have a chat with me about it.

Picture the scene in our house after the England v France game when the phone rings:

C: "Hello daddy. He's not here. If you were thinking about gloating, don't bother".
C's dad: Oh. Right. I'll talk to you another time then.

[hangs up]

Tee hee.


I heard on the radio this morning that one of the key reasons why Barack Obama is so far behind Hilary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination is his colour. Now, sadly that doesn't really come as any great surprise to me, but what did make me pause for thought was how some people are rationalising this racism -- and this was backed up by a vox pop from a bar somewhere -- apparently "Obama" sounds a bit like "Osama". Coincidence? Many American voters apparently think not. That's like saying that you wouldn't dream of voting Labour at the next General Election in the UK because "Gordon Brown" sounds a bit like "Incompetent Clown".

Eh? Oh....


  1. So are you saying George Bush "won" two elections because his name DOESN'T sound like 'Warmongering illiterate cretinous stumblebum?'

    Makes more sense than any other reason I've been goven to date.

  2. Oh, it's worse than that, ST: there is a rampant internet rumour that his full name is Barack Hussein Obama and he converted to Christianity recently to cover his Muslim roots. "What better way to take down the country than from the highest post?" screams the email. It's all bollocks.

  3. Umm. His name is Barack Hussein Obama. If you don't believe me, check Wikipedia. He is the Junior senator from my state, Illinois, and to be honest with you, has gotten elected to office with that name before, and I don't think it's a handicap now. To say that he's behind Clinton in the polls because of race, is so stupid and simplistic, that I don't quite know how to respond. If he was leading in the polls, would the report be that Clinton is losing because she is a women.
    Look, I won't be voting for him, not because he's black, but because there are other candidates that better represent my political views. As an American, I'm insulted and bewildered that anyone would believe a ridiculous statement on the radio like that. ST, do you honestly believe that we are nothing more than closet racists, and that his color is the only thing holding him back? The real reason he is behind in the polls is that more people plan on voting for Hillary Clinton, than Barack Obama. No more, no less. The Clinton Machine is overwhelming and impressive. If Race is holding back Barack Obama, than what is the excuse for Edwards, Kunich, or Richardson? We've known his middle name is Hussein for years, and we don't care. Give us a little credit please. OK, end of rant.

  4. Polls right now don't matter much. Hillary has more skeletons than Obama. Plus the article I read on obama and race were due to him not acknowledging race as an issue, and potentially not getting the black vote.

    Its all opinion at this point.

    Obama's biggest fault is he's too green... as in inexperienced. Hillary's is her ties to Bubba Clinton. Edwards is that many of us see him as the sidekick to the guy who couldn't beat Bush.

    I like Kucinich as far as platforms go... but no one knows who he is (Obama being my second choice.)

    All I know is I'll take pretty much any liberal there is to try to balance out the hell of the last eight years.

  5. hey Cody - sorry for causing any offence. I don't believe that all Americans are closet racists and the thrust of the piece on the radio was actually to report how Obama was trying not to make any political capital out of his colour and was trying to present himself as a candidate and not as a black candidate ... even though this possibly cost him votes (especially when his main opponent is married to the man many people called the "first black president of the USA"). I was intrigued by that. I was simply a little bewildered by the cretin on the vox pop who was making light of his whole Obama / Osama thing -- and you can't deny that people are using that. You only have to use google.... I realise that part of the game is that mud is thrown at all of these candidates and that this is just the easiest mud to throw at him.

    No offence intended. We have idiots in bars too.


  6. ... it's also very interesting to see that the leading candidates are black or female (or both). I wonder if someone other than a WASP male will get elected this time.

  7. If it helps, I saw the people to whom ST refers on last nights BBC show "Panorama". The problem Obama has is that despite the fact most of what people hear is utter rubbish, it has seeped into the consciousness and was being peddled by "normal" (sic) American voters as if it were the gospel truth. Proof, if it were needed, that mud sticks.

    (incidentally, I am not sure that "if you don't believe me, check Wikipedia" is the safest defence in the world, either...!)

  8. "(incidentally, I am not sure that "if you don't believe me, check Wikipedia" is the safest defence in the world, either...!)"

    Ok LB, point taken. His middle name is still Hussein, and due to the fact that I live in the same city he does, I feel comfortable saying that we all know his name, middle included, and that most people don't care. Thanks for the idiots in bars line ST, it made me laugh. I can't say that I was offended per se, but it just seems to me that America gets bashed a great deal, some worthwhile, some not. When I don't think it's warranted, I will speak up for the old girl.

  9. I've checked wikipedia. Turns out that Barack Obama wrote the S Club 7 hit 'Reach'.

  10. I do think that race is an issue, but in a very interesting way. Barack does not appeal as strongly to the African American community as does Hillary, right now. I don't know exactly why, but this is an issue. Of course, it's probably just that the Clinton political machine is incredibly powerful.

    If Barack could legitimately mobilize the black vote in the US, there would be no problem getting him into the white house. Right now that community is incredibly underrepresented in the polls for lots of reasons.

  11. Cody said a lot of what I would have. I'll just add that I hate that the media is simplifying this into a black/white, man/woman race. It's not that at all. I'm not racist, and I'm not misogynistic, but I'm not supporting Obama or Clinton. I'm supporting WASPy Edwards. People's choices are complex. I've said before, and I'll say again, the types of people who are racist or misogynistic enough to make an electoral choice based on those factors are most likely the types of people who wouldn't be voting for the Democratic party's platform anyway.

  12. Ian - that's funny. Apparently Barack Obama's Election music spells out his name in Morse Code, also.