Britons still believe in their natural superiority

We still sing about ruling the waves in a way that no other European nation does

It was impressively English for Sven to blame England's defeat against France on "bad luck" and "fate". Perhaps he found a page from Nostradamus that said "and as the kingdom of the West prepares to hail its triumph over its enemy across the sea, they shall be struck two times, the second when they are betrayed by a sloppy pass seized by a Gallic lord off the va va voom advert."

It was impressively English for Sven to blame England's defeat against France on "bad luck" and "fate". Perhaps he found a page from Nostradamus that said "and as the kingdom of the West prepares to hail its triumph over its enemy across the sea, they shall be struck two times, the second when they are betrayed by a sloppy pass seized by a Gallic lord off the va va voom advert."

It appears to have been accepted that bad luck was responsible. Similarly, a typical headline before the tournament began was "We are the team to fear," although we haven't come closing to winning a major tournament for almost 40 years. We're like these blokes who declare "I'm going to pull tonight, I'll be fighting them off," every Saturday despite not having come close for years. And if they were asked to justify their optimism they'd say "Because I got that unforgettable snog in 1966".

The tragedy of being English is that 50 years after surrendering the empire, there is still a strong urge to believe in the idea that accompanied it of our natural superiority. We still sing about ruling the waves in a way no other European nation does, and when we don't win a football tournament we feel the natural order has been disturbed. One consequence is that whenever we lose, some people decide to trash the place. For some fans who watch the matches in the pub, the tradition is to destroy some symbol of the opposing country, for example a BMW if we're beaten by Germany. On Sunday they were probably searching for patisseries, so they could scream "You dirty creamy bastard" and "You're going home in a dustpan and a brush". This sort of fan could come to a finish if we lose to Croatia, because their only stereotype symbols are snipers and mercenaries.

None of this would matter if it was confined to football. But it's part of the same attitude that means our biggest-selling newspaper could announce yesterday in bold letters "We are everything Europe isn't. Why else would everyone want to migrate here?"

That's right. Because no English people could abide the thought of buying a house in France or Spain, whereas any European couple with a bit of spare cash is desperate to buy their dream second house in Margate. Then they send postcards to their friends to boast about their glorious lifestyle, starting with: "You simply won't believe how wonderful the transport system is here! We often get the 8.17 to Cannon Street just for the stunning scenery! Luckily it always gets stuck for 25 minutes just outside Lewisham, giving us an excellent view of a scrap metal yard that has to be seen to be believed!"

Then the Europeans who are lucky enough to migrate here must infuriate their jealous friends by saying: "And it's SO cheap. With the money we got for our apartment overlooking Barcelona we were able to buy a bin liner stuffed with newspapers in a doorway up the Charing Cross Road."

To take another example, no one from Kent ever bothers nipping to France for anything, whereas the French are queuing up day and night to come to Dover to pick up expensive fags and beer, and petrol at prices that over there simply aren't available. Take take take, that's all Europe does. We've never bothered with their peculiarities such as pizzas and kebabs, whereas you can hardly move in Rome or Paris for fishfinger-houses and tinned peaches take-aways.

How long does this desperate clinging to an obsolete empire go on? Do the inhabitants of Carthage still expect to win every international elephant-racing contest? Does the Sparta Gazette and Advertiser tell its readers "Our brave boys defeated the Persians in the fourth century BC so we don't have to listen to EU bureaucrats telling us our olives are too oval!"

The further into history our empire recedes, the more some people want to make up for it by making ridiculous claims for our greatness. Politicians regularly claim we have the finest tourist attractions in the world, the finest beaches in the world, the most vibrant economy in the world, reaching further and further from reality. There is a section of society that would like schoolbooks to contain information such as "England is the biggest, most colourful and most soluble country in the world". "Our national symbol comes from the lions that inhabited large parts of Surrey, until Winston Churchill used his steely prowess to tame them one by one and use them to win the battle of Hastings." And "At one time the planet Earth was ruled by dinosaurs. Except in England, where heroic tribesmen fought them on the beaches, driving back every last dinosaur in a battle we still remember as D-day."

Here, in this frustrated view of the world lies the explanation for the rise of the UK Independence Party.

Its followers are unable to accept that Britain no longer dominates in the way they were brought up to believe it does. Like a child, they refuse to believe anything can be their fault, or the fault of the English. If something's wrong, Europe must have made it wrong. If our team loses it must be because the wrong team was picked or the other side cheated, or we were plagued with bad luck but never mind because we're sure to get revenge in the final.

But just in case, tonight keep your cuckoo clocks, penknives and Jewish gold somewhere safe.

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