Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Sunday: Falklands Dick Swinging Edition

Colonial Kerfuffle: The Falklands War-like most wars- is really quite a sad event in history. Across 74 days, 649 Argentinians, 255 Brits, and 3 Falklanders lost their lives. For those military personnel that survived, there are the harrowing memories of a brutal combat that shall forever remain with them. It was a war fought out of patriotic passions rather than any more tangible strategic aims, and the resulting nationalistic fervour in Britain helped propel Thatcher to her 1983 election victory. It is an event to be reflected upon with austere remembrance, one that you would hope two mature nations may be able to diplomatically move on from.

Or not... Thirty years on and the Falklands conflict, and the remaining issue of the islands national attachment, appears as a chance for British politicians to undo their responsible foreign policy zipper, whip out their tumescent patriotic credentials, and give the Argies a good slap to the face (similar Female metaphor applies to Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner). While both countries may feel strongly about their respective cause, the nature of the 'debate' is infantile, aimed at bolstering nationalistic reputations in their respective countries.
Spot the British bit...

Argentina seem to have decided to go for the glitz and glamour approach to promoting their cause. It started when they decided to rename their equivalent of the Barcalys Premier League after the Crucero General Belgrano, the cruiser sunk during the Falkland conflict, literally turning the issue into a political football. Since then they've had a celebrity endorsement (from Sean Penn) and a publicity stunt when they reported British actions to the UN. You've got to admire the imagination of the PR guys on the Argentinian side.

On the British side it's been a case of incidental visits to the islands by national public figures. First, Prince William was sent there on a 'routine' posting, a failure to comprehend that nothing an heir to the Throne does is remotely 'routine' in the geo-political scheme of things. Then David Willets popped by on his way to Antarctica, before a bunch of MPs from the Defence Select Commmitee swing by next month. It's all horribly unsubtle and crudely undignified. The Falklanders wish to remain British at the moment, hence the British interest in the islands (oh, and something about oil reserves). But the Government seems to be gambling at the moment that jamming various politicians and royals down their throats won't induce a gag-reflex against the pathetic macho posturing that supposedly represents an attempt at a diplomatic, 21st century, foreign policy.

Six Nations: So as expected, England and Wales took victories last week to move to two wins out of two in this years Six Nations. England have greatly benefited from having the two weakest teams in the Championship in their first two matches. This has allowed Stewart Lancaster to determine who's ready to play for him, and who's repeating the mistakes of the World Cup and are likely to be suffering a similar hangover to the World Cup in the new dawn of English rugby that follows the tournament. Wales looked good again, though the Scottish exuberance at tackling anything in red that moved (an exuberance that stems from a similar tactic used on Saturday nights out in Glasgow) cost Andy Robinson's side a decent crack at the game. Were next weeks match taking place in the Millenium Stadium it would be a no doubt Welsh win. The fact it's not balances the encounter, but enough for an English victory?

Ireland over Italy- Anyone disagreeing here? Outside of Murrayfield, it's hard to see where the Italians can ever pick up away-victories. The French postponement probably benefits Ireland who can play the Welsh match out of their system here, and head back to Paris a restored, more confident team.

Wales over England- Excluding the last five minutes of the first half against Italy, the English defence has been pretty strong so far. Wales, however, present a bigger, bulkier, simply better, backs-unit that the Scots or the Italians have, and one that should be able to cause the English mid-field problems. I expect it to be tight-margin of victory- less than 7 points- but for Wales to edge a victory that sets them up for an emotional charge at the Grand Slam through their last two matches back in Cardiff.

France over Scotland- Scotland does everything right. It's witty, it makes eye contact when it's listening, and it knows all the right flirty body contact. Then it leans in for the kiss and headbutts the girl. France recoils, grabs Scotland by the balls, and twists until it squeals. Minimum 15 point French victory.

Braquo- This week I finished off the last few episodes of the first season of Braquo, a French cops drama shown on FX before Christmas that had been sitting on the old Sky+ since then. I came across it as a TV Pick of the Sunday Times, and there was a lot of acclaim for it being thrown about- even some talk of it in the same breath as (control yourselves) The Wire.

Now I haven't seen The Wire so I can't comment directly on that comparison, but I would suggest Braquo probably isn't the Second Coming. But that doesn't mean it's not good. Eddy Caplan and his gang are cops dealing with the scum of the Paris criminal underworld- they're damn good cops too, if perhaps a tad overenthusiastic. Braquo's driving energy comes from the tightrope that Eddy and the rest of his crew, Walter, Theo and Roxanne, must try to walk as they try to clear the name an old colleague, balancing the need to deal with some bad guys, capture other bad guys, whilst the whole time not turning into bad guys themselves. As the season progresses, all four find themselves drawn further and further into a web of assaults, murders, hostage-takings, drug-dealings, internal police politics, family breakdowns, and sex, a fair bit of it their fault. As the season progresses, it also becomes clear that there's no hole you can't get out of by simply hiring a van, loading up on guns and ammunition and pulling on balaclavas. Easy!

It all threatens to get a bit riotously silly. But the factor that helps pull it off is the French-ness. The show oozes Gallic cool from every dangling-out-the mouth cigarette to every cocked-gun in your face. From the steam of BMWs, to the bar in the Police station, to Eddy's residence on a house-boat, the show feels cool, but more, so looks amazing. It wouldn't have worked in New York, or London, nor Copenhagen (which seems to be the centre of good TV at the moment with The Killing and Borgen). The show works and the reason it works is a French thing. Just don't let that put you off!

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