Suffer not thy sons to pass the Alps, for they shall learn nothing but pride, blasphemy, and atheism.Oh glory days when foreign travel was still deemed hazardous enough to incite such heart-felt paternal admonitions! Were Cecil - her Majesty's Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer - to be transported to the 21st century, he would be a happier man forsooth. For in 2008, journeying abroad seems to have exactly the opposite effect than the psychological metamorphosis feared by the Renaissance politician. You need a workout for your petty nationalism and naive xenophobia (aside from some serious exercise for your liver)? Go travel - the further afield the better.
The evidence: Rebecca Adlington, a broad-shouldered lass from marvellous Mansfield, who recently was whisked away to China to win a few gold medals for the UK.
This is what the buxom blonde has to say about Team GB (the term's synecdochic significance is of course unmissable) and its intrinsic superiority to the rest of the world:
For me being British is about politeness, kindness and fair play. You see it in the athletes’ village: people from other countries can be quite aggressive, pushing in queues and not treating each other with respect – but our lot are the complete opposite and I love that.Er, do the names Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge ring a bell, Miss Adlington, and their rather embarrassing (and far from respectful) post-botched-competition squabbles?
And this in the week that brought us the splendiferous news that the King of London has a German background! Ethnic hybridity, here we come - only not to Mansfield, apparently.
I think I might have to take back my facetious comments from earlier this year and hereby predict that soon more people in Germany will know who Boris Johnson is.
Though we won't take him back, whatever he offers!