So, here we are again, at the start of another Ashes series. I have mixed feelings when England play Australia. It's great to see the traditional enemies go at it, the cricket is almost always entertaining (even the 2006-7 tour), and no quarter is asked for - or given. But it can be a difficult time for an Englishman in this beautiful country.
It can be very hard work. The concepts of being generous in victory and gracious in defeat are lost on many of my colleagues and, I suspect, upon the general population. Win or lose, I am generally facing a battle to stay sane. I barely talk about cricket with others, such is the level of inanity that goes hand-in-hand with the passion. The newspapers and television are ill-informed, casually racist, and sloppy. Unreadable and unwatchable. And of course, they are the very things that shape public opinion.
All I can hope for is an England victory. At least it will keep the noise down. For a while.
Don't get me wrong - I'm sure that things are similar for the minority fans in other countries too, whether they be in England, Scotland, Pakistan or Zaire. But this is my blog, and these are my thoughts...
Whichever team you follow, whatever your level of interest, I genuinely hope that you enjoy the series. And remember, the bloke over there that you call a "dirty pommy" might just be me. And you would be wrong. I'm rather clean.