Little Britain – A Former Empire On Self-Destruct

By the Fat Hippo

Two weeks ago, I learned the hard way that I’m becoming too old for a jolly good pub crawl. The guy who taught me that vital lesson is not much more than half as old as I and can now gloat to be the only person still alive, who has out-drank the Hippo the first time since 2003.

The scene of the crime was Manchester and I had to spend a sizeable part of the evening in damp clothes, because for reasons that utterly elude my understanding, one of the pubs we went to had a shower head in its loo and someone even more hogwashly bladdered than I doused me with water.

One might wonder why a German was toiling about in England, and of all times, at the time of that referendum, but that was when my annual leave happened. On top of that I had had that nagging feeling that there is only one country in Europe, crazy enough to vote for something as colossally stupid as the lunacy that goes by the euphemism #Brexit. So, having more mates in Britain than I have at home, I thought I’d try to visit them all for next time I might actually need a visa, and I’ll probably have to undersign a paper, swearing that I’m not a terrorist who’s come to snog Her Majesty.

What I like about Brits the most, is the fact that as soon as you are in a pub, all your personal differences don’t matter and you have a drink while talking bollocks. Proof of that is the fact that there is a table outside the “Lucas Arms” pub at Kings Cross and it is still in one piece and both Fortis and I lived to tell the tale. Granted, in more rural areas there’s an alternative lifestyle, which demands that differences in opinion be solved outside by bashing each other’s heads in, but we were in Londinium, so Spanners, Fortis and I chose option one, and Fortis embarrassed me a little later in a token arm-wrestling match.

And it was good that he did, because losing to a German would have led to undesirable consequences. Spanners would still be bitter about it and harp on endlessly how I only won because I had a weak opponent. The little detail that compared to Fortis I look like porky pig next to Andre the Giant would just be hindering his argumentative efforts and be conveniently omitted.  

Which brings me to the one thing about Brits that is mildly annoying. A couple hundred years ago Britannia ruled the waves and our brothers from the Island toiled about the World, and wherever they set foot on land, they asked the natives if they would fancy becoming His Majesty’s subjects or rather be clubbed to death. Not very surprisingly, most chose option one. But alas, that's all just history and the whole of the Empire is now a rock in the Atlantic. 

Brits can absolutely not cope with being beaten by anyone or not being number one. That’s why they voted to leave the EU. They knew they’ll ruin their country, wreck the economy, lose Scotland, and end up with half a rock in the Atlantic. The half of the rock where the oil and the gas are will be part of the EU and be called the Republic of Scotland before long.

Yet, so big is the aversion to being told anything by the Germans or the French, they still went ahead and pushed the self-destruct button, convinced that they would make Britannia great again if they only screwed themselves up the bottom hard enough.

Which brings me to the latest news from F1, which will make the lovely Vivian Bove a very happy bunny, and would have lost me a bet if I were a betting man. I would have placed a tenner on someone putting up a tweet or a meme to insinuate it was all Seb’s doing so he would have a docile hopeless team mate for another year.

The tenner would have stayed at the bookie, because Spanners emphatically beat the five minutes’ barrier with a “success baby” picture, showing how bitter he still is about the fact that Seb dared to ‘steal’ four titles from Lewis. If you have the time, argue with most Brits, and you’ll be told that it was only because of the superior Red Bull. That Lewis is sitting in a car that even after three years is still a second ahead of anyone else, is something you better leave unsaid, or the next sentence may be ‘You outside now’.

So now that I’ve lost all my mates in Britain, let’s look at where that argumentation goes wrong. If you are as old as I, or even worse, Carlo, you’ll remember the eighties and early nineties. That means you can name five cases of two alpha-dogs in a team: Senna/Prost and Hamilton/Alonso at McLaren, Mansell/Piquet at Williams, Mansell/Prost at Ferrari, and Hamilton/Rosberg at Mercedes. I can actually go one better and give you Mansell/Andretti at Newman-Haas in CART.

All these pairings have one thing in common. They didn’t work, led to a poisoned atmosphere, crashes, and most drastically, in handing the title to someone else in 1986 (Prost) and 2007 (Räikkönen). It sort of worked in 1988 and at Mercedes, because in both cases the cars could have been pedaled by Jean-Deniz Deletraz and would still have been good enough for the win.

As our new writer Stephen Williams writes, Kimi is the right choice for Ferrari. He may be past his peak, but not slow enough to be entirely hopeless and he has the experience to play it safe and bring home the points. For a team trying to catch up it has always been best to have one leader who can push the car beyond the limit and one, who’ll bring it home safely where it realistically belongs. One who had perfected that role throughout his career was Ricardo Patrese.

Unfortunately, that kind of logic eludes many on her Majesty’s Island and even people like Tiff Needell, someone who was so hopeless he could only qualify for half of his two F1 races and was never called by any F1 team ever again, needs to vent his frustration about his bitterness in a way that I find to be pitiful. 

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