Vive la FranceWednesday, February 05, 2014
I've decided. I'm going to learn the words of the Marseillaise.
I think this every year, when the Six Nations rolls around and all the other countries are droning out their mirthlesss dirges at the start of each game before being obliterated by the triumphant, bloodthirsty, powerful song of the French. This is the year I will actually do it.
Knowing the words of the Marseillaise is the kind of pointless achievement that appeals to me. It says I'm a glamorous, jetsetting francophile (the same impression I've been trying to cultivate with my swanky new French coat), who also has enough spare time on my hands to sit around and acquire obscure knowledge like the foreign-language lyrics to national anthems of countries that I don't even live in. There are very few occasions where knowing the words of the Marseillaise will be useful, seeing as how I'm unlikely to play rugby for France any time soon, but to be able to whip it out of my pocket at just the right moment, well. Won't I look like a smarty pantalon.
(I should clarify that I'm only aiming for the first verse and the chorus, not the fifteen verses that apparently exist. I might be crazy, but I'm not crazy.)
I've set myself the target of learning the words by the end of this year's Six Nations. I don't actually know when that is, since I don't actually know anything about rugby and usually like to avoid watching Scotland embarrass ourselves at sport if at all possible (it's not always possible), but I should probably get cracking. Da da da da la patriiiiiii-uh da da da da daaaaa, da da da. Yeah, needs more work.
Speaking of watching my fellow countrymen humiliate themselves in internationally-televised sporting events, I'm VERY EXCITED about the Winter Olympics. ALL CAPS EXCITED. Despite the fact that it's basically just one big sliding competition, the Winter Olympics are vastly superior to their summer counterpart. The quirky human interest stories! The ridiculous outfits! The very real risk of severe and permanent injury! I love it.
My love of the Winter Olympics goes way back. In pride of place above my childhood bed, I had a poster of Hidy and Howdy, the official mascots of Calgary 88. In 2002, Fin and I first locked eyes across a crowded bar in which there were not one but two people in fancy dress as gold-medal-winning British curlers (neither of which was us, sadly). I screamed when Alain Baxter won his medal, wept when he lost it again, was flabbergasted when Lindsey Jacobellis did this. Just the other day, my dad emailed me to let me know that a British woman came fourth in the Olympic slalom in 1968, because that's how my family rolls.
Of course, the downside of watching the Winter Olympics as a British person is that we are just so chronically bad at them. Sure, we win the occasional medal in an obscure sport, but where's the downhill gold? Where are the glory days of Torvill and Dean in matching purple chiffon? I suppose you can't blame us for doing badly at the Winter Olympics, since we don't really have much of a winter - or a summer, come to think of it - but it gets depressing after a while.
Maybe I'll support the French instead. At least I'll be able to sing along.
Images: 1. A French women's rugby team, source untraced 2. Competitors in the Ladies Figure Skating competiton at the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, February 1928, via Olympic.org