The Eaton Diary of London    2001  

Don't mention the war

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Sunday, August 5, 2001

Well the Aussies have done it again. - another sporting triumph. Yesterday the Australian Test cricket team wrapped up the Third Test on the third day of play, and thereby wrapping up the Ashes Test series with 2 Tests still to play. It has all become a little predictable. Two things seemed inevitable as this match started on Thursday: 1) Australia would win and 2) there would be lots of rain delays. Sure enough the predictably unpredictable weather in England took a turn for the worse right on cue for the cricket, but the delays enabled them to extend the match to fill three days at least. The commentators do a great job talking for hours about nothing as they wait for the rain to stop. I was amused by their banter late in the day yesterday, as they pondered the inevitable, with Australia needing just 41 more runs to clinch the series. They resorted to talking with the crowd on the boundary. One man, while resigned to the fact that England was going to lose, talked enthusiastically about being at all the test matches so far, and really enjoying being at Wimbledon and the British Open golf. The commentator asked, "Well if you've been at all these events, do you ever get to go to work" He replied, "Oh, I'm a Vicar, so I have to work one day a week".

Not being a Vicar, I haven't yet been able to see any of the cricket live. I had planned to go by Lords on my way home from school on Day Four of that match to catch the last hour or so of the day's play, but of course I was optimistic to think the match would last that long.

All these Aussie sporting triumphs have not been without their little challenges for me in London. It's not that easy being in enemy territory when you're on the winning side - you can't talk about anything! They are a little sensitive about the weather, so it's best not to talk about that. You try to talk about sport, but there are Aussie triumphs everywhere. You can't mention the Rugby (Australia winning the Test series over the English and Irish 'Lions'), the Tennis (Pat Rafter a close runner up at Wimbledon), the Swimming (Thorpe and Hackett dominating the pool at the World Championships in Japan), the Cricket, (Australia retaining the 'Ashes') or even the 'Tour de France', (O'Grady getting the yellow gernsey in some early stages.)

Which reminds me, on my way to work on the Monday after Australia snatched the Rugby Test Series from the roaring English and Irish 'Lions', I noticed an unrelated headline in the paper. "Basil still can't mention the war." Apparently John Clease who played Basil in the classic British comedy 'Fawlty Towers', has been called on as a consultant to German television to help them improve their version of the British show, because so far the Germans aren't finding it very funny. (I wonder why?) But the article went on to say that the famous "Don't mention the war" episode would not be included in the German series because the topic is still considered too sensitive. [For those unfamiliar with this British classic, in this episode, Basil, a British hotel manager falls over himself to not mention the war when German guests were in his restaurant but proceeded to mention it more than ever.] I felt this article was a timely warning for me not to mention the Rugby at school that day, because the other music staff are keen Rugby fans and had been religiously following the whole series. In fact, at the school concert 10 days earlier, when the Lions were 1-0 up in the series, the Head of Music, in publicly thanking me for my contribution to the music department through the summer term, commended my courage for fronting up to school after the Aussie's humiliating loss the Saturday before. So, not being one to gloat or to seek revenge, I felt the best policy was just not to mention the Rugby. So I did a 'Basil', and made a deliberate effort to noticeably stay away from the topic. All was going quite well, with no apparent animosity, until the Agency rang me on my mobile while the music staff where together in the music office. Unfortunately my phone is set to play "Waltzing Matilda!" Well that was the last straw. "OK rub it in, why don't you!" was the angry retort as they banished me to take the call outside.

Despite all that, I did finish up my time at Queen Elizabeth's Boys School on quite agreeable terms and very much enjoyed the opportunity to spend a term in such a fine school. 


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Copyright 2001 H Grant Eaton  Contact: