First Published in The Independent, June 28th 2006

Germany breathes again – the Cloggies are out

What a great few days for the Fatherland and, in particular, for Franz Beckenbauer. The Kaiser incredibly found time between attending nearly every game of the World Cup so far to get married again last Friday.
Getting married, like watching lots of football, gets easier the more you do it and, though he spent a whole day neglecting his World Cup duties, our “Emperor” still received thousands of cards wishing him well. Graham Poll alone sent three.

Last weekend’s party got into full swing when Nationalmannschaft showed the hapless Swedes that they should stick to making furniture. My favourite scene was Henrik Larsson’s David Beckham-style penalty over the crossbar. It’s good to see everybody getting the jitters again when they face Jens Lehmann from the spot.

But let’s not get carried away; so far Germany have achieved nothing more than England and six other nations and failure is still an option (although for Germany, obviously, failure isn’t an option).

Back in Baden-Baden, what comes as a genuine surprise to many locals is the lack of social class of the England squad and in their entourage. Germans still had the idea of British people having a stiff upper lip, wearing bowler hats and having some manners. I’m therefore happy for all you English that your football team and their “WAGs” gave a more accurate description of life in Modern Britain: scantily clad yobettes falling about in the streets, spending the GDP of any given African country on booze and designer clothes .

England might not be our favourite guests, but thank God we can rule out one disaster of historic dimensions: the Netherlands winning the World Cup. “Without Holland we’re going to Berlin,” as millions of relieved Germans sang after the Cloggies’ defeat to Portugal. Police already report that traffic on the autobahns is running a lot smoother now that all the caravans are back in the Netherlands.
The Kaiser will no doubt be delighted about that when he’s in his helicopter on the way to his next game – or wedding.

Posted by Henning Wehn on Wednesday, June 28th, 2006.
Filed Under: Writing


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