JAN MOIR: I now despair at fellow Scots who long for England to lose

JAN MOIR: It might have been funny once upon a time but I now despair at my fellow Scots who long for England to lose

When England played Panama at the World Cup, I was at a party in Scotland, watching the match with a roomful of men who grew ever more silent as the goals mounted up.

By the time England had slotted six past the Panamanian goalkeeper, they lost interest and began drifting away to other things; taking comfort in the bar and the barbecue, but most of all in the mental barricades that prevent them taking pleasure in an England win. Now and never.

Not every Scot feels this way, of course, but far too many do. In 1991, the Scottish rugby team, led by captain Gavin Hastings, went to the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham wearing Australian scarves or hats. 

Why? Because England, after knocking out Scotland in the semis, faced Australia in the final.


That practice of Scots supporting whichever team is playing against England? It might have been funny once upon a time, but now I hate it

It’s the kind of behaviour you would expect from schoolboys — not grown men who represent their country. England lost 12-6 that day, which must have bucked up the vinegar-veined Scots no end, made them feel good about those shirts. Worth it!

That practice of Scots supporting whichever team is playing against England? It might have been funny once upon a time, but now I hate it.

Not only parochial and small-minded, it is the black pip at the heart of Scottish nationalism, the barrier to us being good neighbours, nice friends and taking a delight in the other’s good fortune.

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After decades of living in both countries, my conclusion is that the English would never do the same to the Scots, certainly not in such a grimly dedicated way. (And for that matter, neither would the Irish nor possibly the Welsh.)

Not because they are better or more morally upstanding people, but because they simply couldn’t be bothered. All that negative energy!

Only a loser would waste their time wishing for others to lose. Look up at the stars, not down at your knuckles dragging along the gutter.

At rugby or football world cups, I’d say Englanders would root for any Home Nations team unless they were actually playing the red-and-whites. Don’t we all come together for the Olympics, after all?

There are moments, at home in Scotland, when I feel like the only Scot supporting England, a lone tootling trumpet in a millions-strong, muffled brass section. Certainly, you won’t have to travel far north of the border to find antipathy (I’m being polite) and an upwelling of rancorous despair every time someone mentions the W*rld C*p.

Credit for this must go to manager Gareth Southgate (pictured right, consoling Colombia’s Mateus Uribe), a class act in every way.

The fact that Scotland didn’t qualify is bad enough. The fact that England did and are doing so well just lands more blows upon the bruise.

‘Oh God,’ said my brother at the party, ‘are we ever going to hear the end of Harry Bloody Kane?’

Not this side of Christmas, no.

Meanwhile, television host and football enthusiast Piers Morgan got into trouble this week for roaring on about England’s victories on his show Good Morning Britain — the clue is in the title of the programme, Piers!

This did not go down well in some of the gloomier parts of Caledonia — and one can almost feel their pain. Salt? Meet Wound. Scrub a dub-dub.

Yet why should Morgan dampen his genuine passion for his nation to placate a bunch of malcontents who cannot, just cannot, enjoy the sporting glory of fellow Brits?

The problem is theirs, not his. Bear in mind that on the evening of the England-Colombia match, spiteful members of the Scottish National Party at Westminster forced five votes through the chamber and deliberately took their time in voting so that English MPs were tied up in the division lobbies, unable to watch the match on TV.

The SNP: never not knowingly underhand. They make me ashamed to be Scottish.

The thing is, even though it might all end tomorrow — in defeat by Sweden — this is not just an English triumph and not just a British triumph, it is a very human one, too.

Credit for this must go to manager Gareth Southgate, a class act in every way. I love his dinky waistcoat, his smart shirt and tie, the way he gives every player a warm, fatherly hug when they come off the field.

His managerial style shows that even on the field of dreams you can lead by kindness and example, rather than a rule of terror. He is a leader of men rather than a ruiner of men — because all too often in sport character building ends up being character demolishing.

After decades of living in both countries, my conclusion is that the English would never do the same to the Scots

He has told his young squad to forget about the weight of expectation and the history of what has gone before, and to go out and make their own history instead.

His inspiring exhortations are visible in the lightness in their faces and that spring in their step. ‘I have to keep reminding myself I am not on holiday,’ said Harry Kane in Russia, and when have you ever heard that from an England captain before?

Certainly not in the Fabio Capello years, where he banned butter from the breakfast toast and made the WAGs stay at home — grim.

And let’s just draw a veil over the brief reign of Sam Allardyce, shall we, who managed one game before he resigned when a newspaper investigation claimed he offered advice on how to ‘get around’ rules on player transfers.

Today, this week, all of a sudden, right now, everyone is talking about Gareth Southgate, the quiet, unassuming hero of the hour. This shows how much we are crying out for a decent, honourable, good guy like him in public life.

We are tired of all the braggarts, liars, chisellers and hollow men who endlessly crowd into our lives.

We want more quiet courtesy and graciousness, on and off the pitch, north and south of the border.

But especially north, if you don’t mind me saying.

Just in from Sussex soap opera! 

After the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, mother of the bride Doria Ragland discreetly disappeared back into her life.

Since then, her lips have been sealed. From her there has not been a peep, a gaffe, a clanger or even careless whisper.

Doria is a class act, who doesn’t want to do anything to harm Meghan and her new royal life. Unfortunately, no one could say the same about Thomas Markle.

After his embarrassing TV interview, he is now reported to have told friends he is fretting about his future as a father.

Thomas Markle fears the couple have dumped him, and revealed he has not spoken to either Meghan or Harry (pictured on Thursday) ‘for a long while’

He believes he will never see Meghan again. ‘I think that relationship is lost now,’ he said.

The 73-year-old fears the couple have dumped him, and revealed he has not spoken to either Meghan or Harry ‘for a long while’. 

He also complained about the upcoming UK visit of Donald Trump, saying that if ‘the Queen is willing to meet our arrogant, ignorant, and insensitive President she has no excuse not to meet me, I’m nowhere near as bad’. Could he be any more embarrassing?

In some ways, one can see why the Sussexes have pulled up the drawbridge. His breaches of protocol, his wedding no-show, his financial arrangements with Press and TV shows. None of this is good.

Yet Mr Markle does not seem motivated by malice or greed. He just seems a little lost. I still don’t understand why Harry has yet to meet his father-in-law, nor why Meghan did not visit him after his heart surgery — surely the least a dutiful daughter could do?

Unless they start looking after him things are only going to get worse.

And what happens if they start a family? Are they going to deny him access to his grandchildren? 

Harry and Meghan should put aside their great humanitarian projects and their hopes to save the world together for a moment — and go to the aid of this distressed, ill old man instead.

No, I am not ‘getting into’ Love Island, thanks all the same. Yes, it would be a lie to say I find myself watching it on ITV2 most nights.

However, I do have a question. Why do all the women fall for Wes? He’s shallow and horrible — and those are his good points. 

And that goatee! It looks like a skinned mouse stuck to his under-chin. As my mother always says, what’s wrong with young people today?

Strange affair of Mrs Firth and her ‘stalker’ 

And now to the strange affair of Livia Firth and her former lover, Marco Brancaccia. The wife of actor Colin Firth has dropped stalking charges against Marco in Italy, preventing details of their year-long affair in 2016 being revealed in court.

Is this nasty business over at last? Poor Mr Darcy must be hoping so! After the affair ended, she reported her lover to the police, claiming he sent a compromising photo to her husband.

He denied stalking and had been keen to ‘clear his name’ in court, but the Firths did not want any private details seeping into the public domain.

Livia Firth, the wife of actor Colin Firth (pictured together), has dropped stalking charges against Marco in Italy, preventing details of their year-long affair in 2016 being revealed in court

Either Marco was motivated by revenge, or Livia was so horrified that her affair had been discovered that she threw her lover to the wolves in a bid to save her own skin.

I simply cannot believe that a woman who has so many of the world’s eco concerns close to her heart would stoop so low.

This week she was at the Maison Margiela show, where John Galliano’s models wore pink plastic hats in a look described as ‘neo-digital natives’.

Livia was impressed: ‘It reminded me of a phrase I saw on a wall recently: ‘We are all refugees.’ And through this nomadic sense we can all go online/offline and be inspired by ‘the other’, each one with its own baggage.’

What? Perhaps she’s just overwhelmed with relief that she is not going to court any more.

Pray for those poor boys

Like millions, I have nightmares about the lost boys in Thailand. How can they bear it? How can their parents bear it? And how can rescuers get them out before the monsoon rains come?

It is like the plot of a thrilling Spielberg movie, except that it is all too sickeningly real. A dozen junior footballers and their coach have been trapped in a flooded cave for nearly two weeks. 

They were found sitting on a muddy ledge 2.5 miles into the cave network in the Chiang Rai province. What the hell are they doing there? Their poor coach is going to have some explaining to do when — and if — they come out.

The boys were found sitting on a muddy ledge 2.5 miles into the cave network in the Chiang Rai province

Two heroic British cave divers found them — three hours down a flooded tunnel into what must seem like the centre of the Earth.

Now Thai Navy Seals, nurses, soldiers and a doctor are tending to the group. 

They might have to be taught to swim and dive in a race against time and tide to escape — a storm is expected today. Those poor boys. Their poor families. If you have prayers to spare, send them now.

Bayeux will come home in 2020 

A date has been set for the Bayeux Tapestry to return to British shores – after 950 years in France.

It will return in 2022 after Culture Secretary Matt Hancock secured an agreement in Paris yesterday with his French counterpart, Francoise Nyssen.

The artefact will be loaned to the UK while the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, where it is now displayed, is refurbished.

It will be the first time it has been on display in the UK since its creation in the 1070s to record the victory of the Norman king William the Conqueror over King Harold at Hastings in 1066.

Mr Hancock said: ‘The Bayeux Tapestry is a world treasure and a symbol of the deep ties between Britain and France.

‘This agreement takes us a step closer to bringing the tapestry to our shores for the first time in almost a millennium.

‘It also underlines the commitment from both nations for greater cultural, digital and scientific collaboration now and into the future.

‘We are incredibly excited about the potential of the loan to enhance further the bonds that tie us to our neighbours across the water’.

The 230ft-long tapestry has been displayed around France, and is part of the Unesco Memory of the World Register.



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