Errors and Omissions: The chilling indifference of Millwall's famous terrace chant

Does everybody hate Millwall? Not quite. This week's misrememberings and inaccuracies are put under the microscope by our peerless Letters editor


In his Saturday column last week, Tom Sutcliffe, writing about the failure of modern classical music to attract a large audience, used an illustration from the football terraces. Contemporary composers, he argued, had not troubled to offer their listeners a pleasurable experience: “I could not help but feel that my alienation, as an ordinary listener, was always part of the point as far as its practitioners were concerned. There was a Millwall-supporters quality to the tight sodality of hardline serialists – ‘Everybody hates us, we don’t care.’”

Sutcliffe has misquoted the Millwall chant. It is even worse than he thinks. It is, in fact, “No one likes us, we don’t care.” Strangely, this is not the first time I have seen it thus misquoted by civilised and sensitive writers. Why do they get it wrong? Perhaps it is that the “everybody hates us” version is more accessible to the writerly mind. It seems to express an almost tearful defiance in the face of the world’s condemnation. That is something sensitive writers can understand. The authentic “No one likes us” is farther away from civilisation and humane feeling. The subtext is: “We’re not the kind of wimps who care about being liked.”

The Millwall supporters are not defying the world, which is at least a kind of human interaction, but confronting it with the blank face of mere indifference. Writers, whose stock in trade is human interaction, perhaps find the slogan unnerving, even incomprehensible, and therefore difficult to remember.

Middle muddle: Here is an example of the hatred that does not even know its name – the widespread hatred of the middle class. On Wednesday, Grace Dent launched a philippic against “middle-class” parents who are apparently adept at telling lies and playing tricks to get their children into desirable state schools, at the expense of “kids nearby with poorer, less brass-necked parents”.

The piece did not actually state in so many words that such behaviour is just what you would expect from those awful middle-class people, but the headline had no doubts: “The shifting morals of the middle classes.”

Let’s just apply the standard bigotry test: “The shifting morals of the Jews.” Is that a headline that any respectable newspaper could conceivably publish? Of course not – it is a shocking, awful headline, calculated to provoke irrational hatred. Why does nearly everybody think it is OK to say the same about the middle classes?

Kiss of death: Here is a picture caption from Tuesday’s news pages: “Rodin’s The Kiss wins admirers at the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound, Edinburgh. The world’s most famous sculpture, which was first unveiled in 1898, is on a year-long loan from London’s Tate Britain.”

That is the sound of a sub-editor desperately trying to fill space. Why does the reader need to know that the gallery is not just in Edinburgh but on the Mound? And “the world’s most famous sculpture”? What about Michelangelo’s David or the Statue of Liberty?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Front End Developer

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...

Guru Careers: Customer Support Advisor

Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder  

Our food hysteria's reached new heights when Great British Bake Off contestants call cake 'sinful'

Emily Sutherland

The Facebook 'legacy feature' for after your death is necessary - so let's not be squeamish about it

Joe Rivers
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food