Having wryly commented on the colourful goings on in Brazil, Noble Readers, I think it only right that I should point out a few interesting features of the Commonwealth Games, now rolling along in glorious Glasgow.
The Scots, in a last minute orgy of spending before their peninsula separates itself from the United Kingdom, are hosting a sort of mini-Olympics which is confined to those nations formerly under the steel jackboot of British domination.
Not all of our ex-colonies have joined that great successor to the British Empire, the organization secretly known as the British Commonwealth – Ireland (Southern Branch) and the United States being notable exceptions -- but the Mother Country has now been forgiven by most of its other children, and so the Games stirs interest in the following places:
Antigua and Barbuda Namibia
The Bahamas New Zealand
Belize Papua New Guinea
Brunei Saint Kitts and Nevis
Cameroon Saint Lucia
Canada St Vincent & the Grenadine
Fiji Sierra Leone
Grenada Solomon Islands
Guyana South Africa
India Sri Lanka
Kiribati The Gambia
Malawi Trinidad and Tobago
Most of these domains will doubtless be unfamiliar to all but professional geographers. Many will sound like anagrams or specks in the ocean, and indeed are. But perhaps surprisingly, these territories account for a couple of billion inhabitants spread over eleven and a half million square miles of the earth. For some unknown reason places at one time ruled by Britain - such as Egypt, Iraq, what's now Israel and so on - have stubbornly neglected to join the Grand Club, whereas other places over which we Brits never had any dominion at all, such as Mozambique and Rwanda, have been surreptitiously welcomed in, despite having suffered under the jack boots of Portugal and France respectively.
For the purposes of the Games, the United Kingdom is divided up into four big bits and three tiny little islands. (Nobody knows why.) I give the populations so you have a sense of proportion about the whole thing.
United Kingdom 61,609,500
Northern Ireland 1,841,245
Isle of Man 84,497
My theory is that we enter seven different teams in order to let Australia top the medals table, which they do pretty well all the time. (They sulk if they don't win, you see.)
Some places do not appear on the list, maybe because they don't think very much about sport, or maybe they're too busy being tax havens or exotic holiday destinations:
British Virgin Islands Montserrat
Cayman Islands Niue
Cook Islands Norfolk Island
Falkland Islands St Helena
Gibraltar Turks & Caicos Islands
At least one of the above, and I'm not going to tell you which, is neither an accountant's heaven nor a beach resort but an absolute disaster zone, half of it having exploded some years ago. No, John of Devizes, it wasn't Ginbraltar. (Here the "n" is silent.) I personally watched it exploding (from a nearby island I'm glad to say) and couldn't help thinking that God had got that one notably wrong.
Yet other places are in the queue to join the groovy British Commonwealth, but haven't yet got the green light:
All of these have obviously made-up flags, and so may not be actual countries but bits of Empire that fell off and were forgotten about.
There is but one more country to name. It is a naughty country that has not been allowed to come to the Games at all, but has had to stand in the corner while all the other countries had jelly and cake and sang songs. Yes, I'm sure you know of it - it's called Zimbabwe. Actually, that country and almost all its people are not naughty but lovely and cuddly. However, it has a president who is very naughty indeed, in fact he's a psychopathic Marxist despot, and you don't get much naughtier than that. He has also accumulated a gang of most unseemly types around him which he calls "a government" and whose job it is to beat people senseless with rubber hoses - so that's probably what's holding the nation back.
Stay tuned to this channel, Noble Readers, because with the Games 2/3 over, there will be more soon on how the Games' spoils are being divided.