Monday, June 14, 2004

Football, politics, memorials, museums and fleas

Bollocks. Bugger. Bastard.

I'm sitting here still in my England shirt wondering how the English football team managed, to coin a cliché, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I'm also wondering what I'm going to say to my French colleague at work tomorrow... and I was so looking forward to rubbing her face in the French defeat until, right up to the 89th minute. Still things could be worse. At least we played okay in the first half, and nearly wrapped it all up with Beckham's penalty in the second half. But the French footballing clown and the French footballing genius had other ideas, it would seem.

After the football I had a little lie down and listened to Alan Green's 606 football phone-in. It was the usual mix of doom and gloom merchants saying how England were shit and are going to go straight out the tournament, and then there were the rah rah crowd who think because we managed to lose to France in stoppage time that means we are going to go on and win the whole thing. All very interesting and amusing.

Still at least we won at cricket.

Apparently, there were elections for the European parliament this week. Needless to say, I neither knew nor voted... in fact I'm not sure if I'm eligible to vote. The good news is that in Britain we had record high voter turnout. The bad news is that this record now stands at 38.9% (or at least it does on Sunday night before Northern Ireland have got round to counting their votes). Less than 39% is a record high. You can tell that the UK populous are really engaged by the European parliament.

It's somewhat distressing that over 750,000 people voted for the, largely racist, British National Party. Not really sure what to say about it except that's a lot of people who are feeling marginalized. Reading their website is part hilarious and part terrifying. Lots of claims about electoral fraud and other nonsense. And an article about this story about an underwear ad that upsets some muslims because it was put up next to a mosque. Now obviously it is ridiculous that anyone would not want to see four pretty girlies wearing nothing but G-strings. But this is not the BNP's point. Instead they are upset, that something was done because some muslims were offended. It is somewhere between surreal and ridiculous.

Yesterday I was in Washington, DC. It was a lovely sunny day and Washington looked very good in its post Reagan mourning glory. I got to see several memorials Washington, Korea, Lincoln and Jefferson to name a few. In Lincoln's big white edifice they have engraved two of his speeches. The first is his "Four score and seven years..." Gettysburg address and the second is his second inaugural address in which he waffles on endlessly about God and the civil war. It made be go grrhh. Some of what he says is very good and the rest is so dripping with religion that my spine goes all icy. I'm not a big fan of any connection between church and state.

I also got to look around a few of the Smithsonian museums. The Hirshhorn museum was largely disappointing as modern art museums go, although there were a few good exhibits... particularly one photo exhibit whose creator I don't remember. The air and space museum was also disappointing. Too much of it was rah rah isn't America great. And too much of it was dumbed down. But it had an Eric Idle song and a Bacofoil covered moon lander, so it wasn't all bad. By far the best of the three museums I looked around was the Natural History museum. Lots of interesting stuff about animals and rocks. I never knew that mammals had extra bones in the ears. Or that Monotreme was the name for an egg laying mammal, like the, hilarious, duck-billed platypus. Lots of pretty things and big skeletons and all in a gorgeous old building. I was very impressed, it felt like a museum. On the way to find a restaurant we walked past the Spy Museum, I'd really like to find out what is inside the Spy Museum. It could be very interesting or very shit.

Oh, and on Friday night I stayed at a hostel in Washington. It was a nice big old house, close to the metro, with a porch and a big back garden. And during the night I got bitten something like 70 times by, I guess, fleas. Which put something of a damper on my view of the place, Washington and hostels. By now most of the bites are fading away, but a few are still itching. Bastard little creatures.

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