It began two weeks ago when I referenced the government’s wheeze to ease Mary Seacole out of the classroom. That touched quite a nerve, and triggered pointed communication from Wales. Not once did you mention the Welsh Crimean nurse Betsi Cadwaladr, it said; another example of the Welsh being airbrushed. Is this Hideously diverse England? What about Wales? What should I write about, was my question? Language he said. With more children taught in Welsh, Welsh in the media and government keen to promote the language, we thought more people than ever were speaking Welsh. Then came the census suggesting decline.
We’re in shock. So here I am, at his suggestion, in Swansea, sharing a chicken tikka lunch with author, linguist and activist Heini Gruffudd. He is slightly perplexed, and he’s worried about what the decline – 21% to 19% – means for the Welsh and Welsh. But at 66 he’s seen a lot and he’s an optimist. His message: don’t panic. ‘People have been saying that Welsh would die out for hundreds of years,’ he says. ‘With all the pressures it has faced, its survival is a bit of a miracle.’
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — The resurgence of German soccer began, like the country’s economic comeback, after a long slide toward stagnation amid dire prophecies of impending irrelevance.
The sick man of Europe, as Germany was known a decade ago, could as easily have been called the sick man of soccer. After a disastrous European Championships in 2000 when the traditional powerhouse won no games and scored one goal, the problem-solving, build-a-better-widget German drive kicked in.
While the government was loosening German labor laws to grease the creaking gears of the country’s economy, a society known for its apprenticeships and vocational training set about methodically developing young talent in the world’s most popular sport.
In a little more than a decade, Germany has invested nearly $1 billion in its youth programs, with academies run by professional teams and training centers overseen by the national soccer association, the Deutscher Fussball Bund, or D.F.B. The programs testify to the long-term strategic thinking and to the considerable resources that have driven Germany’s rise to renewed prominence in — and at the expense of — a struggling continent.
THE OLD stereotype of the stupid footballer may have to be consigned to history after a new study claimed that players have better cognitive skills than undergraduates and even PhD students.
Research by Canadian academic Jocelyn Faubert, of the University of Montreal, found that sports stars were able to ‘hyper-focus’ when doing tests, thanks to physical differences in their brains.
However, some people appear to have got carried away by the findings. ‘John Terry is brainier than physics super-boffin Professor Stephen Hawking, exclaimed The Daily Star.
When the Queen was first crowned in 1952, the kitchens of Buckingham Palace were hard-pressed to invent a dish that would satisfy the foreign dignitaries and guests in attendance. Not that bangers and mash isn’t delicious, but the thoughtful chefs (along with the Queen’s florist), perhaps borrowing a leaf out of newly-independent India’s cookbook, put together the following: cooked chicken, curry powder and heavy cream, served chilled with rice and vegetables. Sound anything like chicken tikka masala, national dish of England? In any case, Coronation Chicken was a hit, and now it’s fashionably retro and Jubilee-appropriate, so of course it’s what’s for lunch.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Altidore said he decided to play through the abuse Tuesday because he didn’t want to give satisfaction to people who directed monkey chants at him.
The 23-year-old said it was the first time he has experienced racism like this, on or off the field.
‘This was pretty big. To have a stadium chanting monkey sounds is not something pleasant,’ he said in the phone interview. ‘I’m the only black player on my team, so I think it was more directed to me than anyone else.’
Jackie Robinson’s birthday was Thursday. Two days before the first black player in Major League Baseball would have turned 94, American soccer player Jozy Altidore was racially abused by Dutch fans of FC Den Bosch, the team against which Altidore’s AZ Alkmaar was playing.
Unrelenting monkey chants. Just weeks after Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off a pitch in Italy in response to fans’ taunts.
UEFA/FIFA, get your house in order.
Rather than make clear from the top that racist abuse will not be tolerated, UEFA is worryingly silent. And when they do talk, like last summer when they fined a Danish player more for wearing unapproved underwear than they did the national teams whose fans abused black players like Theodor Gebre Selassie or Mario Balotelli, their priorities are never quite in line.
The silence and/or uselessness from the top leaves the sole responsibility of responding to racist fan culture to men who are barely adults and are being abused and attacked in their place of business. And when individuals are making decisions on the spot and under enormous pressure, we see a variety of responses that journalists and other commentators are taking it upon themselves to judge. Is Altidore’s playing on better than Boateng’s leaving?
Who are we to judge?
And why are we spending more time thinking about the individual choices these players are making instead of demanding that UEFA/FIFA treat this as an issue of utmost importance? We owe it to Jackie Robinson to demand better.
The beginning of today’s class on sewage, from Punch, July-December 1849. (Scroll for the second part of the cartoon.)
Kevin-Prince Boateng’s stand (or walk, more precisely) against racist fans. It speaks for itself.
I have become fixated with a map. It’s an interactive map of London that shows where the German Luftwaffe dropped bombs on the city between 7 October 1940 and 6 June 1941. It’s a period that includes 57 nights of consecutive bombing that pummelled the city at the height of the Blitz. You can find it on a site called bombsight.org.
Yet the map works now in another way. A reading street by street explains much about the city you see today. My exploration has radiated out from the small street in Bloomsbury where I live. My road was not hit. The neighbouring street, however, took a double strike when two highly explosive bombs hit a row of houses. And this explains why it’s now lined by blocks of not very nice late-1950s apartments.
Almost every post-1945 building in my ’hood owes its presence to a bomb dropped from a German plane. Perhaps this is how history can really be brought to life – how many of the children, or adults, living in my neighbourhood realise that what the[y] see every day is the consequences of war. It’s made me more sensitive to the city and its randomness and quirks. It’s also made me think how robust this old city must be: all that destruction and terror but it rebuilt. At their best, cities can heal again and again.
50 years after independence, my people swept the track.
A lot of people said my win was unexpected, but it wasn’t. I was world number one going in. I had won most major competitions during the year. I went into the race saying, ‘I’m going to win this’, because I genuinely believed that I could.