Do you realise, Graham, that most Americans have never seen an England football fan? Think about it. They love England, God knows - all those cute accents and neat butlers, all those Anne Hathaway cottages and Windsor Castle tea rooms, all the crumpets and bonfire smoke, all those cheery, 'evenin' all' policemen, all that jolly boating weather and National Trust fudge. But certain aspects of Englishness have passed them by.
If we win tomorrow, and qualify for the World Cup, we can kick a stereotype in the shins. What a refreshing surprise it will be when Millwall fans arrive in force. America adores our West End musicals; isn't it time for the East End to have its say? Faithful viewers of Masterpiece Theater, devoted to the English of Denholm Elliott and Helena Bonham Carter, must be dying to hear the suave pre-match banter of the West Ham supporters' club (provisional wing): Ingerluuhhnd, Ingerluuhhnd, Ingerluuhhnd]]]
I know what you're going to say, Graham, and you're right. Cultural exchange is a two-way street. Sure, it'll be fun for Leeds fans to run into the Los Angeles Police Department face to face. And what a thrill for Bristol City's travelling army to wander the late-night streets of Miami in search of a pint and a curry, with nothing to protect them except the spare lollipop they brought along in case Kojak showed up.
We're counting on you, Graham. If we miss this chance, Americans will go on thinking of us as a nation of Shakespearian actors, sipping tea out of Lady Di mugs, curtseying every time we pass a banknote. They'll go on thinking we tip our cloth caps at Her Royal Highness Princess Dame Maggie Thatcher. I swear I'm not exaggerating, Graham, when I say that the future of the special relationship is in your hands.
Of course, there are those happy with the status quo. You've probably had a few memos from the Foreign Office already. There are obvious implications for Nato. I'm serious: if you see anyone who looks like David Niven hanging around your goalkeepers, step in and break it up. Last I heard, the Dutch players were being offered huge win bonuses by a chain of mock-Tudor hotels in the Stratford area.
Yes, there are dark forces out there, Graham. But I know you can do the business. Get out there and express youself. Remember the old slogan of Merrie England: where there's a Will, Anne Hathaway.
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