Three Miss Worlds and one (rugby) World Cup
We've all heard the song. But there's more to life than football and fighting. So how do England and Germany measure up at the Nobels? The Oscars? Crufts? Kevin Rawlinson keeps score
Saturday 26 June 2010
In most sports, England v Germany is a closely contested fixture, at least in those sports that are popular in Germany. The Formula 1 Drivers' Championship has been won nine times by Englishmen and seven times by a German. In fact, all by the same German: Michael Schumacher.
The German driver won his seven championships in just 11 years, participating in notable duels with English former world champion Damon Hill. And Schumacher, statistically the greatest Formula 1 driver ever, may yet add to his tally, having decided to come out of retirement to drive for Mercedes this year.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup was an event that will live long in the memory of England fans, who saw their team lift the trophy for the first and – as yet – only time, courtesy of a late kick by former Newcastle Falcons fly-half Jonny Wilkinson. It is not one that will mean quite so much to the Germans, whose team did not qualify for the tournament – or any other since its inception.
The Olympics are a slightly more complicated matter, with four different incarnations of the German team competing in the modern games: West Germany, East Germany, the United Team of Germany and plain old Germany.
Between them the German athletes have won 1,082 Olympic gold medals across the Summer, Winter and Paralympic games. Their British counterparts, with Sally Gunnell, below, among their ranks, trail with 709. One German, Emanuel Lasker, was world chess champion for 27 years, while no Englishman has ever risen to such heights.
However, Englishmen, among them Nick Faldo, have won 30 major golf championships. Faldo won the British Open three times: in 1987, 1990 and 1992, and the US Masters three times: in 1989, 1990 and 1996. By contrast Bernhard Langer is his country's greatest – indeed only – major winner, carrying off the fabled green jacket at Augusta in 1985 and 1991.
Germany is far ahead in the number of World Cup-Stacking Championship wins, with eight championship wins without English reply. Germany has also claimed more Chess Boxing championships than England (if you didn't know, the clue is in the name – alternate rounds of chess and boxing).
England's cricket team does, however, hold an advantage over that of Germany, which does not field a Test side and has only ever qualified for one ICC World Cup Qualifier, in 2001, when they went out in the first round.
England, while never having won the Cricket World Cup, have at least reached the final three times – in 1979, 1987 and 1992, when they were beaten by the West Indies, Australia and Pakistan.
Neither nation has won Miss World since Poole's Sarah-Jane Hutt was crowned in 1983, back when electronic voting was a phenomenon new to the competition and Leo Sayer could still get a gig at The Royal Albert Hall. At the time, other contestants unkindly questioned whether Ms Hutt was really the most beautiful woman there. One even refused to attend the coronation ball.
England's overall record edges that of Germany with three wins to two – but there remains controversy over whether the second German triumph, that of Gabriella Brum in 1980, stands. It was the first year entrants were judged on their personality and intelligence as well. Ms Brum resigned after 18 hours – the shortest reign in Miss World history – citing media pressure, although it later emerged that she had posed déshabillée for a photographer.
Previous English and German victors won in the era of one-piece bathing suits. (Miss World began with bikinis in 1951 but Ireland and Spain threatened to withdraw.) Germany's 1956 victor, Petra Schürmann, came third in her national competition but won a finals place by speaking good English. The English winners were Ann Sidney in 1964 and Lesley Langley in 1965.
In the battle of the frying pan, England comes off "wurst". England has three restaurants with three Michelin stars, including Heston Blumenthal, while Germany has nine. The Schwarzwaldstube, in the Black Forest, Saarbrücken's The Gästehaus Erfort and The Dieter Müller in Bergisch Gladbach are among the country's most highly rated.
The relative qualities of English and German beers is a much more closely run thing. England has claimed three wins at the World Beer Awards, beating Germany's two.
It is a three-all thriller on pets: Crufts Best in Show has been won by three German Shepherds and three English setters. There has not been a victorious German Shepherd since 1971 (Ramacon Swashbuckler took the title) whereas English setter Starlite Express stole the show in 1988. At the Supreme Cat Show, it has been seven years since a German breed was crowned, while English moggies have fared better – a tortoiseshell tabby, Dairymaine Sarnia Cherie, won the title of Supreme Imperial Grand Premier in 2008.
The Arts (and Eurovision)
Germany lags behind England in prizes for cinema. England's 30 Oscars for best actress and best actor – 15 for each – drub Germany's total of three. The English tally is boosted by two victories each for Glenda Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh. Nitpickers might dispute Germany's 1927 claim to best actor – Emil Jannings was a half-German Swiss. British films have won the Palme d'Or at Cannes three times, German only twice. The highlights being Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders and Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Even in the Eurovision Song Contest, the UK leads Germany 5-2, although it does rely on former glories – 1967 (Sandie Shaw), 1969 (Lulu), 1976 (Brotherhood of Man), 1981 (Bucks Fizz) and 1997 (Katrina and the Waves) – whereas Germany's Lena Meyer-Landrut won the most recent contest. The Germans have had 10 Nobel laureates in literature – Herta Müller, Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Nelly Sachs, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Gerhart Hauptmann, Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse, Rudolf Christoph Eucken and Theodor Mommsen – and the English, with a bit of gentle cheating, have had nine: Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter, William Golding, Patrick White (an Aussie born in London), Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, TS Eliot, John Galsworthy and Rudyard Kipling.
Newton and Einstein's respective countries of birth have contributed their fair share to the sum of human knowledge. To date, Britain is ahead – by the measure of Nobel laureates – with 117 to Germany's 103.
Einstein received his award for services to theoretical physics. Harold Pinter, who died in 2008, recorded his lecture address while in hospital after winning the award for literature.
England has 17 Ig Nobel awards (for "improbable research") to Germany's two. English recipients were honoured for calculating "the optimal way to dunk a biscuit" and for working out how to make a teapot spout that doesn't drip.
As for philosophy, Monty Python's "The Philosophers Song", namechecks six Germans to just two English. (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Schlegel, Hegel and Kant, versus JS Mill and Hobbes.)
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