At school I wasn’t a winner. Not really. There was one time at prep school when I won the First form prize, which was a book about birds. I still have it! I once entered a competition to win a first day cover of stamps featuring various fish native to British rivers, and won the first day cover as well as postcards of the stamps. I wasn’t a great sportsman, something which seems to have followed me through my life and therefore didn’t have the chance to win a cap for my school. Whilst I used to wear green for a living, I would often hear the phrase, “It pays to be a winner gentleman,” being yelled by certain junior NCO’s. I was of course never that winner, so would have to repeat the exercise with all the other losers.
You get used to being a loser. In certain respects, it’s great because you don’t have to bother yourself with that maternal ambition that was imposed on you. It lowers your expectations and you get used to accepting your fate in life. You ramble along, as you may have seen and read Dear Reader, I am a rambler. I was fine with that.
Then of course I moved to France. Try being English in France. Then again maybe don’t. It’s worse than being French in the UK. They lost WW2, yet celebrate VE Day every 8th May. Oh sweet Caroline, I mean irony! But that’s fine. It’s in their mind-set of being the inheritors of the Glory of France. Then the bastards went and won the World Cup in 1998. They are ghastly when victorious, and I remember saying to myself, they’re going to talk about this for 20 years… 20 years came and went, and they only went and won the bloody thing a second time!!!
Whenever they beat us at rugby, I am inundated with mentions of how great they are, and yet when we beat them, I am allowed to remain silent and hide in my office! This losing does have a tendency to teach you about humility.
Now I will talk about the B word, yes, Brexit. As I may have let slip, I am a remainer, and therefore “lost” the vote in 2016. Since that time, my life here in France has been in suspended animation, suspended rather than animated. My future was dependant on a “deal”. Then Boris came along. I was going to be buggered one more time, yet despite the odds, we “won” an agreement that would allow me to stay here. But knowing the French, nothing was certain. That uncertainty doesn’t help a guy’s mental health and Brexit has taken it’s toll on me. But less of the grumbling.
On the 22nd June, 2021, I receive an email from the prefecture telling me to come and see them on the 9th July, with this mail, my old carte de séjour, my residency card, which allowed me to remain in France, and will allow me to remain further. I arrived here in France on the 9th of July 1994, to start the rest of my life. I got that mail, read it, and had tears welling up. For the first time in 5 years, I was turning into a winner.
That week I entered a competition on Instagram. One of those things where you win a basket full of samples from a shop, and you have to like the post, post the names of two people on the comments, and they will announce the winner in a story. This was for a shop that sold CBD products and I thought why the hell not. Well when the story came out announcing the winner you’ll never guess who won. Yes me!!! So for a perpetual loser like me, this was amazing. I was high on the positive vibes. Things are calmer at home and at work, and I have less pain in my arthritic knee. Maybe it does pay to be a winner after all.
I am not a fan of Shadenfreude, except when France is the cause of it. In the Euro 2020 competition, happening in 2021 because of Covid, no winners there really, France was knocked out of the tournament by Switzerland. I haven’t said a word about it at work. Wouldn’t be cricket after all. Oh and we beat Sri Lanka in the Cricket too! On Tuesday night there was the fateful match, between Germany and England, and I don’t want to hear anything about two world wars and on world cup!! Even though…. We beat them, for this first time in a tournament in the knock out stages since 1966 when we beat them in the world cup… The English side of me was very happy, and yet I have been gracious in victory and not mentioned it at work to my French colleagues despite the desperate urge to do so. Even if I were to mention it, it would be wasted on them and wouldn’t be cricket! Damn you gracious VICTORY!