July 27, 2012 by alunparry
Olympics Song – Listen Here
So today is the opening of the Olympics. Hoorah! The nation is in a frenzy. Apparently.
All the hype aside, there’ll be some great sporting stories waiting to unfold. Enjoy it.
There’s a funny thing that happens at the Olympics though.
Groups of strangers who have worked tirelessly to achieve their dream stand at the threshold of it. And we are expected to hope that one of them achieves it simply because they’re British.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the way international sport gets us to support “our” nation.
I’ve always been more at home with the socialist slogan of “the working class has no nation.”
Like I said at the Woody Guthrie Folk Club last night – prompting a small protest walkout! – if two people were going for a job and all you knew about them was that one was British, it would be seen as a bit sinister to hope the Brit got the job.
So why would we hope the Brit got the gold?
This song isn’t new but I don’t sing it in public often. I think last night may have been the first time.
It was inspired by walking into a friend’s living room just as an athletics race was starting on TV and he said to me: “Here watch this, our lad’s in the final.”
And being the awkward sod I am, I had to ask what he meant by “our” lad.
I don’t feel a particular kinship with Britain. I feel a kinship with fellow workers. And I feel a kinship with people who are nice to each other and have values that are loving, caring and egalitarian.
It has always seemed odd to me that we would root for a person based on no knowledge of them except their nationality.
Perhaps the Brit beats his wife but the Kenyan would never cross a picket line and is lovely to his mother?
Aren’t these human things why we root for one person over another? Wouldn’t it be those human aspects we’d seek out when looking for someone to support if it wasn’t for the flag?
How does nationality enter the equation?
So I wrote this song to question all of that everyday patriotism and present a different angle.
National unity sucks. Wave the flag for Britain? We’re all in it together? No we’re not. Anything that encourages me to unite behind the flag, even in sport, is alien to me.
I am a patriot but a class patriot. The kind based on nationality isn’t my bag.[audio: wifebeater.mp3]