DAN WOOTTON: Sunday was a heart-breaker but from Jeremy Clarkson to Kate, the Queen of Hugs, here are my ten massive reasons to still be cheerful this summer if you’re English
The pain feels very real, doesn’t it?
A sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach that can’t be shaken with the memory of the Three Lions coming that close at Wembley Stadium but falling at the final hurdle, damned by mishit penalties again.
To make a miserable Monday even worse, if you switched on much of the broadcast media or open up a cesspit social media site like Twitter, you probably came away believing England football supporters are a bunch of racist scumbags solely motivated to cause violence and hurl insults at Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
A sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach that can’t be shaken with the memory of the Three Lions coming that close at Wembley Stadium but falling at the final hurdle, damned by mishit penalties again
England is one of the most tolerant and diverse countries in the world.
The entire country – bar a few morons – got behind this great young team.
As is always the case, a tiny number of drunken thugs and faceless keyboard warriors – otherwise known as loser trolls – have let us all down.
They are shameless and disgusting racists who should feel the full force of the law.
But rather than wallow in the narrative that England is somehow rife with division, I intend to celebrate what’s great about this country that became so united over the past two weeks.
And why, despite this defeat, England still has so much to look forward to in the coming months aside from sport.
So here my top ten things to reflect on about England’s future in an attempt to stay positive:
1: Freedom IS coming
While Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are being run by bed-wetting administrations craven in their desire to spread fear, rather than encourage personal responsibility, this time next week England will have allowed its citizens to take back control.
While Boris Johnson was ultra-cautious in his messaging when speaking to the nation today, freaked out by rising case numbers and the usual doom-merchant scientific advisers, from midnight on July 19 he’s trusting us to make our own decisions again.
Once we’ve got used to running our own lives again, maybe it will occur to us that there are a few other rights the government might like to turn back over to us
That means, if you want to, you can reunite with ALL your friends and family again, rip off your mask in situations where you feel comfortable doing so, stop having to tell the government every damn place you go via QR check-ins, and even line up at a bar instead of having to put your details into a pesky and difficult-to-use app.
That’s a big change a lot of nervous control-freak Nellies can’t get their heads around. How dare the government trust its own people to behave sensibly?
Well, they may have forgotten it but that’s traditionally been the English way until we threw it overboard in a pandemic panic.
And once we’ve got used to running our own lives again, maybe it will occur to us that there are a few other rights the government might like to turn back over to us.
Like the right to decide how we spend our own money rather than turning over ever-more eye-watering amounts in tax every year so the bureaucrats of the bloated public sector can think up new ways to make our life a misery.
2: Our Royal Family is thriving
Harry and Meghan attempted to inflict a devastating blow to our monarchy in their callous, cruel and, at certain points, concocted Oprah Winfrey interview in March.
The Royal Family was plunged into its biggest crisis in over two decades, with claims of racism.
Then it was left reeling from the death of Prince Philip just a month later, leaving fears for the Queen and the future of the institution she loves.
But four months later, the picture looks very different.
Prince William, Kate and George’s adorable appearances at the Euros have solidified their position as the real future of the monarchy.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their son George during the Euro 2020 Championship final between Italy and England
The sight of them displaying such obvious family affection in front of millions of TV viewers will have killed off once and for all the perception that our Royal Family are a bunch of cold-hearted misfits who can’t stand the sight of each other.
Meanwhile Sophie and Edward Wessex have proven more than worthy of stepping into the shoes vacated by the petulant Sussexes and are winning fans everywhere with their devotion to duty and down-to—earth charm.
Most of all, far from slowing down, the Queen has thrown herself back into her duties and is now preparing for a massive celebration for her Platinum Jubilee next June that will double as an unofficial reopening ceremony for Great Britain after a torrid two years caused by the pandemic.
And despite still grieving for the love of her life she looks more vibrant and happy than she has done for a long time, delighting the nation with appearances up and down the British Isles.
If she can come through the pandemic and everything it has thrown at her and her family, what excuse have the rest of us got for not grasping the future with both hands?
3. Football may not be coming home but, clearly, neither are Harry or Meghan.
4: Our economy is roaring back
Exports to the EU have soared so far this year following a trading slump after Brexit, according to recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics
Despite doomsday predictions thanks to Brexit and the pandemic, England remains an economic superpower – and we’re bouncing back.
The services part of the economy, which covers hospitality and the financial industry, grew rapidly in June.
Exports to the EU have soared so far this year following a trading slump after Brexit, according to recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
And with Brits having built up savings of £200 billion due to Covid restrictions these past 16 months, many of us are ready for a spending spree both online and in the High Street, which should keep the recovery on track.
If anything, the biggest threats we face are a labour shortage and inflation, caused by surging demand. But I guess they are good problems to have.
5: Fun is back
Covid created a cultural wasteland, with genuine fears about the survival of the arts and entertainment industry.
One of the best things about Freedom Day going ahead is it allows these mass events to take place at full capacity again.
This month, that means the reopening of many West End shows, including favourites like Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys and The Lion King.
And while biggies like Glastonbury were cancelled, some iconic music festivals will go ahead, including Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight, Creamfields, Wireless and Camp Bestival.
One of the best things about Freedom Day going ahead is it allows these mass events to take place at full capacity again
Arena concerts will be able to start taking place too, with Gorillaz, Haim, JLS, Elton John, Blondie, Alanis Morissette and Steps all planning major tours in the coming months.
Singletons across England will be celebrating that snogging strangers on a dancefloor will be legal again as nightclubs can reopen their doors from next week with no limitations.
There’s no curfew, no rule of six, no need for ridiculous plastic screens, no need to order a scotch egg and no jobsworth council inspectors trying to ruin all the fun.
6: The wave of woke CAN still be turned around in this country
Woke warriors like Jameela Jamil have attempted to use last night’s final to paint a picture of a divided England.
She posted on Instagram: ‘All that love and pride and unity, all to end in racism and abuse. That’s how we will now remember this final.’
What utter poppycock.
Jameela lives in the US and is trying to transport the bitter culture war from there to the UK. Well, she’s dead wrong.
Woke warriors like Jameela Jamil have attempted to use last night’s final to paint a picture of a divided England
The top American pollster Frank Luntz recently revealed his country is so divided that he has to host separate focus groups for Democrats and Republicans because they just can’t get along.
In the States, your entire identity, social group and way of thinking is defined by whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican and, as a result, many basic norms have been thrown out the window.
That’s why there is growing regular violence on the streets and divisive moves towards defunding the police, especially in Democratic run areas.
And why all Covid restrictions have been largely axed in Republican states.
Even the act of wearing a mask of having a Covid vaccine now takes on a political meaning, which is one of the reasons why the country’s vaccine rollout is stuttering.
But Luntz also found that the UK is nowhere near the point of no-return as the US.
Most English folk still respect each other’s political differences and we’re not defined by who we voted for.
The public here still put doing what’s right before political ideology.
7: We live in one of the most glorious landscapes on the planet
After a miserable month, just when we really need it, a scorching heatwave is on the way. So that means if you are having a staycation you might not necessarily have to spend it under an umbrella.
Forecasters are predicting a long week of hot and dry weather, with temperatures and conditions peaking at the weekend with sunny skies and a glorious 27C in the south.
What’s even better is that the ‘hot spell’ could last a full two weeks, from Freedom Day until August 2.
And, with foreign travel off the menu for over a year many of us have been delighted to be reminded of what a glorious country we live in where, despite what you read in the media, most of our countryside has NOT been concreted over and the wildlife totally eradicated.
If you’re townie who wants to see what you’re missing, download Jeremy Clarkson’s brilliantly funny and poetic (yes I did say poetic) farming show from Amazon, along with his clear-eyed assessment of the real threats to our rural landscapes and way of life.
8. But we can leave it now if we want
But no matter how much you love England, there’s nothing like a bit of guaranteed sun at an all-inclusive beach hotel in Spain or Greece to refresh you for the year ahead
But no matter how much you love England, there’s nothing like a bit of guaranteed sun at an all-inclusive beach hotel in Spain or Greece to refresh you for the year ahead.
And after Freedom Day on July 19 that prospect becomes a logistical possibility, with anyone who was double jabbed in England being allowed to travel to amber list countries without the mandatory ten-day home quarantine.
And who knows, maybe the government will finally see sense and put some key amber-list destinations on the Green List, bearing in mind most of them have lower infection rates than we do.
9: The Olympics are just around the corner
Oh, and if you really want to continue watching Brits put it all on the line for sporting triumph, the delayed Tokyo Olympics kick off this month.
The games themselves might be a scaled back affair, with no spectators, but the TV spectacle creating a new group of Team GB heroes will still be awe inspiring – and there won’t be a football in sight.
10: There are only 497 days to the World Cup
Qatar 2022 kicks off on November 21 next year.
And with the experience and learnings taken by Southgate, Kane and their warriors at this tournament, we all still believe the World Cup will be coming home in 2022.
Because that’s what makes England football fans the best in the world. Don’t let anyone make you doubt that today.
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