The Wing Commander reports
The mystery of what has happened to Italy over the last 2,000 years is one that has baffled historians and evolutionary theorists alike. Centuries ago, Italy was home to the Roman Empire, which stretched from Gaul to territorial holdings in Africa and Asia. They might even have conquered Britain had Boudicca not driven these short skirted invaders back into the channel, having first confiscated all their Latin books for the future education and benefit of English schoolboys.
How did this noble imperium degenerate into the oilslicked, girl-man, caterwauling shambles of a nation set before England today, a nation whose cars are in almost all instances smaller than their mothers, in which it is necessary to enrol in the Mafia in order to acquire the services of a plumber, a nation whose economy consists of a people extorting, bribing, waiting tables upon one another? At the rate at which the Italians are unevolving, as a species, there is conjecture among experts that by the year 2500, they will be struggling to be classified as chickens.
To say that Italy has had an undistinguished past hundred or so years is a gross understatement. Had it not been for Mr Joe Dolce at the tail of the century, which is saying very little indeed, the entire period would have been a washout. Their military record: proud conquerors of Abyssinia. This is the equivalent of boosting your self-esteem by going out into the street and randomly beating up an elderly African man.
Having done this many times, I can assure both Italy and the reader that it is no substitute for the rigours and rewards of empire and conquest. But then, war is war. As Mussolini found to his cost, it is no use writhing around on the floor hoping to be awarded a free-kick by the War Crimes Tribunal when you are being over-run by the allies.
(Speaking of which, I stage an affecting ceremony in the local village each year in which, for the education of local children, I re-enact the defeat of the axis power Italy in the Second World War. Seppings, head shaved and pillows stuffed up shirt, plays Mussolini, whom I proceed to hang upside down from a lamppost, with the children encouraged to go at him, Mexican style, with sticks. It is both enjoyable and instructive, reinforcing in the youth a sense of what it takes to defeat those who stand in the way of Allied forces.)
It is as well that Italy were subsumed into the euro, for prior to its introduction, the lire was in danger of becoming the world's first homeopathic currency. But gross fiscal incompetence is the least of this nation's worries. Italy is, the map shows us, the most effeminately shaped country in the world. It is in the shape of a woman's knee-length heeled boot, about to slip in the cowpat that is Sicily and fall over comically. Appallingly, one of its principal cities is called Florence. To put this in context, this is the equivalent of our own Birmingham being called Jemima, or the city of Nottingham being known as Melanie. This would not stand. Newcastle, Beryl. You see my point.
In short, then, a blubbering, imploring, dough-throwing, volubly jabbering, nipple tweaking, pointlessly gesticulating, manbag wielding, gelato-guzzling, match fixing, power ballad murdering, Berlusconi electing, homophobic yet homosexual being, crocodile skinning, women-minding-their-own-business annoying, against themselves betting, octopus boiling, opera ruining, prostitutes for referees arranging, artichoke drowning, banker assassinating, flare throwing, jumper around neck draping, law of the land flouting, mother suckling, moped worshipping, building code violating, dog maltreating, still volubly jabbering, calf slaughtering, corruption-to-the-level-of-haute-cuisine-elevating, freely urinating, Corsica fearing, too many children having, far too old growing, olive oil lacquering, checked scarf around mouth wrapping, red trousers tolerating, horse abusing, Germany helping, as-a-result-of-the-television-stations-broadcasting-nothing-but-crap-outdoors-all-the-time-staying, goat from tree hanging, around-London-in-loud-groups-of-sixty-wandering, zucchini munching, Zucchero-producing, tight shiny suit wearing, caffeinated tar slurping shower of effluent in sub-human shape, and rotten rascals to boot.
The national anthems were the measure of our two nations and our utter disparity. We, the English, who in recent years have enjoyed dominion across the entire globe, the Italians who enjoy dominion over the cake trolley. Our own was brayed with unflinching, patriotic, rabid fervour, the force of which doubtless prompted a watching Prince Phillip, as it rang in his ears, to slide into his slippers, don his gown, and tiptoe across the corridor to demand, for the first time in 40 years, his conjugal rights with Her Majesty. The Italians' puffed up, tinpot brass emission, by contrast, sounded like the sort of thing the Freedonia Marching Band would strike up prior to an inspection by Mr Groucho Marx.
There had been talk prior to the game that the Italians would be too frightened to emerge from their dressing room, or would only do so that they be allowed to come onto the pitch holding the hands not of the team escorts but their mothers. Eventually, however, they strode out, typically giving no sign of the drama that had most probably taken place minutes earlier.
The game began at a cracking pelt – so much so that it was almost necessary for a man waving a red flag to walk in front of both sides' rapid advance up the pitch. Italy could be said to have dictated the game but dictatorships are the Italian way – England were Prime Ministerial by contrast. Indeed, it would not be too high praise to describe them as Cameronesque at times. Scott Parker proved his absolute complete and total utter usefulness as he reluctantly collected the ball from a throw-in deep in the Italian half, did a three point turn and then lost possession. In this respect he exhibited true English values of modesty and generosity. Some officious blighter put up a statistic suggesting that England had completed far fewer passes than the Italians but this is to overlook two things; that as any visitor to the Via Veneto will confirm, Italian passes are always obscenely high in number, while Gerrard's perfectly placed deliveries, the equivalent of trying to sink a six-yard putt by flying off a ramp Evel Knievel style on a motorcycle, crashing onto the green and then hurling a number six iron in the general direction of the ball, would have broken the needle on UEFA's passometer and therefore not have registered.
As Italy persisted with the dangerous Negro experiment Balotelli (it is no coincidence that his name rhymes with Mary Shelley), England sported with their opponents, even sarcastically inviting them into their own penalty box. Granted, there were miscommunications out on the left wing – Ashley Young at times appeared to be getting himself mixed up with Ashley Cole but this is an understandable error to which I am generally prone, so no blame should be attached to him. It has been an excellent idea for young Young to be allowed along to spectate at these games, running up and down the channel and observing proceedings – it will set him in good stead for future tournaments such as 2024 when he might have matured into some sort of a feckful, remotely functional non-liability.
With England's dominance assured (even a draw would have seen us go through on the countback system, having won one more world war than the Italians), we could afford to enjoy watching Rooney put on an exhibition – he certainly is an exhibit of some sort, his entire body a future bequest to the Pitt Rivers museum in the making. As the poor Italian fans in the likes of Bologna crowded round the town radio in anxiety, we English could put our feet up in utter relaxation at England's ability to advance inches at a time, for seconds at a time without once losing possession, even allowing Andy Carroll (an excellent animal, owned by an American consortium) to enjoy the going at a canter.
Mr Mark Lawrenson, listening to whom is by no means like having the pub bore at your elbow as you watch the match, provided excellent commentary. "Health and safety, no doubt," he quipped at one point as a stretcher was brought onto the pitch. I laughed so hard I defecated, bloodily. Come the final whistle and England whimsically agreed, as they have in the past, to put on a penalty exhibition, strictly for fun, in which it is considered good form to allow the opposition to win, and go on to enjoy some chimpanzee's tea party of celebration.
The game having gone to extra-time, and myself in urgent requirement of an extended toilet break, I shall allow Seppings to conclude the formalities of this report, which will essentially consist of summarising remarks regarding the semi-final and perhaps a precis of tonight's Shipping Forecast. He will then submit it for publication.
FOR CUNT'S SAKE, ENGLAND, YOU TECHNICAL FUCKING TROGLODYTES, THERE ARE FUCKING LABORATORY FUCKING GORILLAS WITH ELECTRODES ATTACHED TO THEIR GONADS WHO'VE FUCKING COTTONED ON QUICKER THAN YOU GORMLESS, BUTTOCK-WRINKLED FLESH LUMPS OF INCOMPREHENDING FUCKING AGONY WHY WE FUCK UP AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! DON'T FUCKING CHARGE AT THE FUCKING BALL LIKE IT'S A FUCKING SASSENACH AND YOU'RE FUCKING MEL GIBSON IN BRAVEHEART, JUST LEARN TO STEER THE CUNT THREE YARDS IN THE DIRECTION OF THE FUCKING WHITE SHIRTED FUCKING MOUTHBREATHING FUCKING MILLIONAIRE STANDING FUCKING ADJACENT TO YOU! KNOW WHY WE KEEP FUCKING LOSING ON PENALTIES? IT'S NOT BECAUSE IT'S FUCKING WRITTEN IN THE FUCKING STARS! NOTHING IS WRITTEN IN THE FUCKING STARS, YOU SMEGMA-WITTED, INEPTLY PROPITIATING, STONEAGE FUCKING FATALISTS! THE REASON YOU FUCK UP AT PENALTIES ISN'T THE UNIVERSE FUCKING WITH ENGLAND'S HEAD, IT'S CAUSALLY FUCKING CONNECTED TO THE FACT THAT, AS YOU DEMONSTRATE IN GAME AFTER GAME AFTER GAME, YEAR IN, YEAR OUT, YOU CAN'T FUCKING KICK A BALL STRAIGHT BECAUSE YOU'VE STILL GOT THE WORDS "GET RID!" ECHOING IN YOUR FUCKING EARS FROM WHEN YOU WERE SOME LITTLE WHELP RUNNING AROUND AN UNDER 7'S GAME IN FUCKING 1992 WITH YOUR MULLET-HEADED, PUCE-FACED, PANIC-STRICKEN DADS SCREAMING AT YOU IN SOME FUCKING ENGLISH, SEX-FAMISHED FRENZY! EVEN WHEN YOU TAKE A FUCKING PENALTY, THE WORDS "GET RID" ARE PUMPING ROUND YOUR FUCKING BLOOD-ADDLED HEADS! YOU FUCK UP BECAUSE YOU'RE ENGLISH! A NATION OF PINCH-FACED, CLARKSON-IDOLISING, HOSEPIPE BAN-RESENTING, GNOME HOARDING, CUL-DE-SAC-INVENTING, GREGGS-ENRICHING, SHIT DECISION-MAKING, BLOTCHY PACK OF RUNTCUNTS WHO'D STILL BE RIDING AROUND IN SQUARE-WHEELED WAGONS SHITTING IN YOUR FRONTYARDS IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR THE FOREIGNERS YOU DESPISE SHOWING YOU THE VERY BASIC FUCKING ART OF PLUMBING! WHILE ENGLAND IS ENGLAND THIS WILL NEVER, EVER, FUCKING END, EVER!
Read more of the Wing Commander's match reports in Send Them Victorious