Should we restore Tyburn Hill to its former glory?

Footballers Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Kim Little demonstratively refused to sing the national anthem in Great Britain’s first match at the Olympics. In a parallel development, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins publicly responded with a four-letter obscenity to Her Majesty’s letter of congratulations.

The athletes are clearly soft in the head. But the rest of us are soft, full stop.

Just imagine how any Tudor or Stuart monarch would have responded to similarly pig-headed infantilism. The churlish athletes would have been dancing the Tyburn jig to the accompaniment of the cheering multitudes – had they been lucky. For fear of spoiling your appetite, I’d rather not describe what would have happened to them had their luck run out.

Something like that would these days perhaps be seen as a bit of an overreaction: we live in liberal times after all. But liberalism shouldn’t be a suicide pact, and a nation that fails to defend her honour will soon have no honour left.

The silly brats deserve Tyburn Hill, not a rational argument. But, with the former unfortunately no longer an option, it’s the latter they are going to get.

Giggs and Bellamy are Welsh, and both have played for Wales internationally. Personally, I think that our country being represented by four different teams is ludicrous, but this is the way the cookie crumbles – although one finds it hard to imagine the USA fielding 50 separate teams. Now, when Giggs and Bellamy play under the Welsh flag, they sing the Welsh anthem, God Save the Leak or Attention, Iceland Shoppers or whatever else it may be.

In these Games, however, they play under the flag of Great Britain, which ought to limit their options to two. One, they show respect for this flag and sing God Save the Queen, the musical answer to it. Two, they stand on principle – risible though it may be – and refuse to play for Great Britain. They chose the third, profoundly dishonest, option of playing and spurning.

At least the two superannuated footballers, one of whom actually captains the team, refrained from proffering explanations for their idiocy. Kim Little, who plays for the GB women’s team, went them one better. She refused to sing the national anthem, she explained, because she’s Scottish. Her cherished ethnicity didn’t prevent her from accepting funding from the British Olympic Association – it’s only when it came to showing respect for the country she represents that she demurred. Her grandfather Calvin also got his five minutes of fame by dotting the T’s and crossing the I’s. ‘It’s the national anthem of England, and she is Scottish,’ he declared.

Now it’s true that the regular heading of a football is a frequent cause of brain damage, so Kim’s action could perhaps be seen in that light. But her grandfather, as far as I know, isn’t a professional footballer, so what’s his excuse? Surely he must have heard somewhere that Scotland and England have been the same country since 1707? And that God Save the Queen is the national anthem of Great Britain, not of England? Actually, unlike Scotland and Wales, England has no national anthem of her own.

Granted, as an SNP voter, the Little patriarch has strong feelings on the subject. But, as they are totally irrelevant in this instance, he should keep them to himself. Have a wee dram, Calvin, and wait for your chance to vote for independence. Until then, just shut up, at least publicly.

That brings us to Bradley Wiggins, Britain’s first ever winner of the Tour de France. Her Majesty graciously sent him a congratulatory note, and his response? ‘F… the Queen.’ It mattered more to him, he said, to have been congratulated by Robbie Fowler, the former Liverpool footballer known as God to the less intelligent Scousers, and also by some pop ‘musician’ whose name escapes me. Amazingly, in commenting upon this moronic outburst, some newspapers spoke of Wiggins’s ‘irreverent sense of humour’. Perhaps after he retires from pushing the pedals he could become today’s answer to Evelyn Waugh, whose humour has been similarly described.

It’s all society’s fault, to use the fashionable excuse. First we ascribe undue significance to sporting success, which is in fact totally trivial on the scale of human achievement. Then we encourage the primaeval tribalism involved in setting successful athletes at the top of the neo-pagan totem pole. And third, we are too weak-kneed to punish them when they indulge in the kind of swinishness that, when Britain still stood for something, would have been treated as treasonous.

Alas, Tyburn Hill has been taken over by all those upmarket flats. But the very least we can do is throw the miscreants off the team, banning them forever from representing the country they so clearly despise.







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