Everything feels wrong today. I am not sure how I should behave. I can’t remember being in this situation before. So what happened to provoke this strange feeling? First, England won an important football match yesterday – in the last minute of extra time. Then after that Germany failed to win an important football match. This doesn’t usually happen and I am not equipped to deal with the situation. I am used to the exact opposite. All l could think of to say at work this morning was “If I had known I was going to get dull 0:0 draws and two weeks of continuous rain I could have stayed in England.”
Everything feels a little subdued today. The roads were quiet, we are not busy at work and I have stayed in my office rather than throw out witticisms about the footy last night. I even hung back at lunchtime so I could go and eat on my own and not be tempted to get too cocky about England having won and Germany not. The problem with being English is that you can’t even enjoy a little “Schadenfreude” because you know that the next disaster could be just around the corner. I get the impression, though, that Germany will not worry too much about an average game (which after all they didn’t lose) and brush it off to win their next game next week.
If the uncharacteristically plucky performance of the England team has sent me into a dreamy mindscape, the ignorant behaviour of our hooligans has brought me back down to earth. I know that some Russians were probably even worse, but if that is our measure of success then something is really wrong. The German media has been pretty fair about the England fans misbehaving but it’s still embarrassing to keep hearing about something I’d thought had disappeared in the 80s.
Mind you, the German “media” did wind me up at half time during the game yesterday evening. The Germany games are shown on ZDF (a bit like BBC2) and at half time they have a 10 minute daily news show called the “Tagesschau”. I have always found it a bit irritating. The presenter, Klaus Kleber, has a slightly arrogant and know-it-all manner and rather than just present the facts there is always an underlying commentary. In fact, there is a perfect German word to describe Klaus Kleber – Besserwisser – which literally means better-knower and you might translate as clever-dick or know-it-all. Last night the number one news story was the shooting and stabbing of the Birstall MP Jo Cox. I had no problem with that being the lead story. What bothered me was the barely-hidden attempt to make a connection between the Brexit discussion and this murder, before the facts were known. The implication was that the mood in Britain was now so tense that crazy anti-Europe murderers were being spawned. I am aware that the so-called Brexit debate has deteriorated into an emotionally-charged, content-free bunfight but it felt wrong that this smarmy “journalist” should be stoking the fires at half-time during a boring football game that was being watched by everyone. Credit must go to the German journalist “live from the scene” (which meant she was standing in front of the Houses of Parliament 300km from Birstall) who sensibly told Herr Kleber that it was too early to draw any conclusions.
I remember when it was OK to be called a “Newsreader”. It was a pretty accurate description. Somebody always writes the news and it is impossible to completely remove the human touch, but I am sure that the news I remember seeing 30 years ago was a better attempt to present the known facts without wrapping them up in opinion. Now you can’t be a Newsreader, you have to be a “serious journalist” and find somebody with an opinon on the news so you can ask provocative questions and look clever. I am afraid that German TV News has gone the same way as it has in most other western countries. It’s now become just more “entertainment”, perhaps the ultimate reality television. It’s a shame and seems particularly out of place in a country which is otherwise correct and a stickler for facts. Why has this happened? I don’t know, but if in doubt – blame the Americans.