Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 24 May 2010

Flying the flag - World Cup musings 1

Good news for the baboons of Knowsley Safari Park - it's nearly World Cup time again!

These simple primates delight in displaying their red and white car flags to their fellows or using them to adorn their sleeping sites. Groups of young males congregate at the drinking hole draped in the national team's insignia and vocalise raucously for hours.

Fortunate for them, then, that England's retail industry is gearing up to meet the demand. Following a trip to the supermarket (Buy it now! World Cup themed coke, crisps, biscuits [are we getting a pattern here?], breakfast cereal and, for all I know, toilet paper lining the aisles), I return to find an e-mail from Amazon offering me a cornucopia of football-related purchasing opportunities.

The merchandise ranges from the obvious (televisions and dvd recorders) through the predictable (England shirts, beer fridges) via the tacky (England cufflinks, a CD of 'Classic Football Songs) to 'they saw you coming' (car flags, beach ponchos and inflatable PVC armchairs - yours for only £15).

As austerity bites, a fortune will be spent on ephemeral tat made for multinational corporations by third world sweatshops, all in the name of supporting 'England' - now that's what I call 21st century patriotism!

Update: it seems the Merseyside baboons have learnt a thing or two since their first brush with fame in 2006 - some of them now have ASBO's (Antisocial Baboon Orders). We look forward with interest to their exploits during the next few months.

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