Peter Steward's Web Site
Rivalries and Relationships
Whilst on holiday in 19-- in Minorca, I was sitting on the beach getting extremely hot and wondering how Norwich City Football Club had done in their first match of the season.
Being a former British colony, being in easy reach from London and because of the Mediterranean climate, Minorca has plenty of visitors each year from the United Kingdom.
The couple enjoying the sun behind us had a copy of the Sunday Mirror. I asked to borrow it to check the scores. Norwich won 2-1 (goals from Bellamy and Kenton - his first for the club). Now really that's all pretty irrelevant to this piece and even more irrelevant if you couldn't care less what happens to Norwich City.
The couple just happened to come from Ipswich. Now let me explain for all of you who do not understand the geography of England. Norwich is in the county of Norfolk and Ipswich is in the neighbouring county - Suffolk.
People from Norfolk and Suffolk generally don't like each other. Most of the rivalry is actually good natured banter - the kind of biting humour that only the British can come up with. East Anglian humour (East Anglia includes both Norfolk and Suffolk) is biting and aggressive. Like as not, if you are insulted in a jocular fashion by somebody from East Anglia it means they like you.
Some of the rivalry, however, is thoroughly nasty and deliberately aggressive and nowhere is this more true than in football matches between Norwich City and Ipswich Town which, in the past, has turned into pitch battles and numerous arrests for violent conduct.
You have to understand the British race to grasp the territorial way they hold onto things. If you live in Norwich, you must by design, hate everyone and everything about Ipswich and vice-versa. The same of course is true in other parts of the country. If for instance you live in Nottingham you hate people from Derby or Leicester. If you live in Newcastle you hate Sunderland and Middlesborough etc.
It seem strange that you should dislike the very people who are the most like you due to their geographical proximity.
On a football scale this rivalry can actually divide cities if there are two or more teams. This is true in say Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and London.
Of course this rivalry isn't just confined to football but affects many other areas of life. I believe it is a unique reflection on British life as well as a comment on the stupidity of individuals.
This territorial aspect of our lives seems particularly prevalent amongst the young who seem to insist on following groups or areas. Thus the youngsters of one village will be pitched against the youngsters of the neighbouring village. These people are completely ignorant of the larger picture of life.
The problem is they follow these territorial leanings in a most bizarre way. This territorial "thing" can be followed through on an ever increasing scale.
If, for instance, you live in one particular area or street of a city or town you could become territorial about that and combine against another street of area in close proximity.
If those two areas or streets are told of a threat from another area of the same city they will combine to counter that threat. So previous adversaries will now find themselves as allies.
These same people will once again combine to represent their city or town against another. Football provides such a good example of this urge for territorial supremacy. Take the following example.
If village A is in the same football league as village B there will be bitter rivalry between the two when they play each other.
When that league combines to play another league villages A and B will forget their rivalry and stand shoulder to shoulder against the others.
Now when that city incorporating these two leagues has a major football team, all the above people will combine against another city.
If this is widened into an area team these people will stand shoulder to shoulder against another area.
The if England play they will all stand together to support their country against foreign opposition.
Give Europe a team and these people will combine against a team from another continent.
And when the Martians land and challenge earth to a game of football all these people from different continents will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight off the Martian challenge.... then if another Galaxy challenges (well I think you get the idea by now).
Essentially it means that at one point you may be fighting hammer and tongs against another person only to be standing side by side in brotherhood with them a few days later. Now doesn't that make rivalry sound so ridiculous?
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Another thing that has always intrigued me is our relationship with other people and the huge number of aspects to this.
There are millions and millions of people living in the world. We can only ever hope to meet a tiny percentage of them. It all seems to make our place in the world a pretty meaningless one.
But of course there are many different categories of relationship.
1/ Intimate relationships
These are the people we have intimate relationships with every day of the week. I don't use the word intimate in sexual terms but to explain the special bond we have with some people - even those we don't particularly like or get on with. There are many people we see every day - perhaps friends or work colleagues, but I wouldn't place them under the intimate category. This is restricted to members of the immediate family unit - a mother or father, a son or daughter, a spouse, a brother or sister. Of course it could be that these people are not seen every day. A sibling could have left home or moved away, parents or children might have done likewise but that doesn't dent the intimate relationship. These are people with whom we have a lasting connection, people who can change or mould our very existence and have a lasting affect on how we behave and how we are.
It is interesting to note that there are blood ties with most of the people mentioned. It is also interesting to note that a complete stranger is likely to become the person closest to you i.e a husband or wife who for the first part of your live doesn't exist.
2/ Semi intimate relationships
This group includes people whose relationship to you will never change. This includes lesser relatives whom you may not see on a regular basis but who are still a member of your extended family and the relationship over the years will never change. This group includes aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces etc. Some of these you will have much more contact with than others.
3/ Special relationships
The third category consists of those people who are unrelated but play a special part in your life. This will include friends who have the ability to enhance your life and share your interests and thoughts and even problems. They enhance your life simply by being there for you.
4/ Regular Relationships
Under this group I would include regular acquaintances. people who, although not being classed as friends, play a regular part in your life. These are people you are likely to see regularly and possibly on a daily basis and can include work colleagues, people with whom you are on good terms with without classing them as friends and people supporting the same ideals as yourself by membership of a group or club. Even people you come across regularly but do not like.
5/ Irregular Relationships
These are people who 1/ you know but see irregularly and so with whom you cannot build up a real relationship and 2/ people you have occasional contact with such as shop assistants, dentists, doctors, decorators etc.
to be continued
Notes to be worked on
From this point come a number of other groups.
a/ people you come into contact with only a handful of times in your lives.
Of course it must be noted than many people can jump from one group to another. Initially the person can provide a service for you at a local shop and through a period of time may become a trusted and true friend. Similarly a trusted friend may move away and you may lose contact and they will no longer play a major part in your life. You have some say in who moves in groups as you are the only constant.
b/ Those people you come into contact with only once
c/ The people you have contact with but never meet - i.e relationship over the telephone or written communications.
d/ The people you might speak to only once to ask directions or to thank them for opening a door or passing the time of say in a restaurant.
e/ People whom you will never meet but know from the news, television and so you feel you have some kind of relationship with - also includes musicians, authors etc.
f/ The majority of people in the world with whom you will never have any contact or relationship with.
g/ people you pass in the street and have no physical ro verbal contact with but whom you occasionally see in say the same village or town.
h/ people you pass in the street and have no verbal or physical contact with an will never see again