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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 12:41 GMT
England: the good news
Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers walk off the pitch
Rooney and Jeffers trudge off at Upton Park

On the surface of things, it looks bad: Australia have managed to embarrass England at the only sport we could still claim superiority at.

Australians, go off and celebrate. What follows does not concern you.

England fans, put those suicidal thoughts on hold. There are still a million reasons why you can hold your head high when the flak is flying.

Australia's splendidly sunny climate quite rightly gets a lot of praise.

Compared to the miserable grey dampness that passes for weather in England it looks even better.

But look deeper. How boring would it get having the same weather every single day?

Waking up to another cloudless blue sky would be like having smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning - delightful for a couple of weeks, but incredibly boring after a month or so.

England's weather keeps you on your toes. What will it be today - gales, severe frost, black clouds or a curtain of drizzle?

The excitement is sometimes too much to bear.

Hats off to Australia for producing Ms Minogue.

If the almost 35-year-old Kylie was English, she would inevitably now be both pasty and turning to fat.

Kylie Minogue sings in concert
Kylie - little interest in cricket
But what counts is that she has chosen to live in London - along with many other of her country's young, talented citizens.

Admittedly this does mean there is a seemingly endless number of Aussies on hand to taunt grieving English sports fans.

But, next time some fella staggers out of a Walkabout and openly laughs in your face, ask him this: if England's such a rubbish place, why is he living here?

Sleeveless tops
Apart from during a brief period in the late 1990s, the sleeveless t-shirt has never been considered a fashionable item of clothing in England.

Even then you were looking at a relatively austere number, high-necked so as to hide unsightly chest hair and with very little armpit and shoulder on display.

Down Under, however, the sleeveless top - often in its most malignant form, the vest - remains a staple of the average male's wardrobe.

Barbecues, weddings, funerals - whatever the occasion, the vest is still considered the absolute apogee of cutting-edge style.

The mullet
True, the haircut modelled so well by Billy Ray Cyrus is enjoying something of a revival in the UK.

And yes, Chris Waddle and Ian Botham were once devotees of this most laughable of haircuts.

But in Australia there is nothing ironic about the sporting of a mullet.

Young or old, rich or poor - every Australian man has, at some stage of his life, strolled into a barber's and uttered the infamous words, "Short on top and sides - but let her rip at the back".

Okay, so the average Australian is at least five times as fit as his English counterpart.

Australians play sport on a regular basis, go to the gym five times a week and have six-packs on their stomachs rather than in their fridges.

The fools.

Do they not realise that "doing" is so last century? In this crazy post-modern world, it's all about watching - from Big Brother to the Premiership.

Get off that exercise bike and get back on the sofa - or risk being labelled a square of the very worst sort.

England v Australia latest

England 1-3 Australia

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