Queen’s English #7

The Queen’s English with Field Marshall Jackson

Another month, another edition of The Queen’s English. Now I can happily ramble on to my heart’s content in this article, but I’d rather I was writing about things that people want to hear. So if anyone has anything at all that they’d like me to talk about just send me an email. If I have any knowledge on the subject I will happily share it with everyone, and if not then I’ll just make something up and pretend that I know all about it.

Now I was asked a little while ago to talk more about soccer team affiliation and the problems it can cause. I wasn’t sure how much interest there was in that topic so I left it for a while, but since I’m pretty much out of negative things to say about Canada I thought I’d skip the negative, go straight onto my positive and then talk about the soccer affiliation issue in my mythbuster section.

So, the next great thing about Canada is… the people. The stereotype in the UK for Canadians is that you guys are all very polite and nice. Obviously stereotypes are huge generalizations but I think they are often there for a reason, and in this case the stereotype is justified. Certainly as an outsider looking in it seems that people here are much happier, more relaxed and generally enjoy life more than people in the UK. I wonder how much of that is down to the fact that I socialize almost exclusively with gamers who are often a smart and laid back bunch of people. Certainly there are exceptions and everyone has their bad days but overall people seem much more pleasant here. That’s not to say that everyone in the UK is rude, uptight, stressed and angry, but there definitely seem to be more people like that than there are here. London in particular is full of people who are constantly stressed, rushing around from place to place, ignoring everyone else as best they can. It’s a very diverse place, with many different cultures, and indeed I’ve had many bus trips where I hear probably 10 or so different languages (none of them English), but it seems that everyone likes to keep to themselves all the time (unless they’re drunk). Customer service involves the occasional grunt from a salesperson if you are lucky. Now, since I work in retail, I understand that some of the ‘niceness’ from salespeople over here is forced and not always genuine, but at least they make the effort.

So overall, I think people in Canada, and particularly Calgary, are very nice, friendly and polite. A big thumbs up from me.

Onto my mythbuster section and the issue of soccer team affiliation. Firstly, you all don’t know how much it’s grated on me to have called it soccer this entire article, but I’m sticking with it because I’m such a nice guy and I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone.

Anyway, I had an email from Shawn asking me to talk about this subject. This is what he said: ‘I’ve heard that your football team choice can cause relationships between people to get downright nasty – even political! I’m not totally sure just how bad it gets or if I’ve just been sold a bill of goods, but it would be interesting if you talked about it…’

Well I guess the answer to that one is ‘occasionally’. I think that with most hobbies or interests, even if someone has diametrically opposing views to you, if you know them on a personal level it’s very easy to get past those differences. However, I think if you have strong feelings on something then it’s very easy to take issue with people who have opposite views who are complete strangers to you.

As an example, a number of years ago I was in Newcastle with a friend, having just been to an Oasis concert. Afterwards we were waiting around in town until our train was going to arrive. We were approached by a guy in the street (he was clearly a little drunk, see my positive section above!) who was asking us what we were doing and why we were out, etc. When he realized we weren’t from Newcastle he said the following: ‘You aren’t Man United fans are you?’ I said not, as, at the time, I was following my Dad’s team Bolton Wanderers. My friend is a Man United fan but just nodded along with me and kept silent. ‘Oh good’ said the chap, ‘cos if you were I would have had to punch you’.

I think that example can hold true for a lot of the trouble that does happen at soccer matches and in pubs. People, especially when drunk, don’t see another person, they just see a jersey, and find it easy to hate or dislike that random stranger just because of that.

However, I used to work in a pub in London that was primarily frequented by Arsenal fans, but also had locals who supported other teams, including some Tottenham supporters. For those who don’t know that would be the equivalent of Flames and Oilers fans. These people got along fine and in fact were often good friends. The rivalry between them became good-natured banter. Likewise I played for a Sunday League team that had players who supported rival teams, but because they knew one another and were good friends it was never an issue.

So I think it very much depends. Some teams have fervent supporters and hatred of other teams, but I think if you ever got two individuals together who supported rival teams and they chatted before realizing the fact then it wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the rivalries just come from the fact that each team wants to be better than the other local teams. However, sometimes there can be other reasons, such as in Glasgow in Scotland. The rivalry there, between Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic, has a much deeper root, going back to the troubles in Ireland and the problems between Catholics and Protestants. Relationships up there still have the potential to get political, and so I’m going to say this Myth is half busted.

I would be curious to know more about what the rivalries in hockey are like here. From what I can tell, they are pretty much good-natured and don’t usually end in violence. Opposition supporters sit amongst the home fans for games here, something that would be somewhat risky at a soccer match at times. If anyone can tell me otherwise I’d be interested to know.

Apologies to those people who don’t care one little bit about soccer or sports. You’ll just have to ask me to write about something else next time…

My email is ops@sentrybox.com

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