After the final medal table for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro had been pored over, and Britons took their place in the sun, basking in the glory of Team GB finishing second overall - the best showing since 1908 - the creative reinterpretation began. First came the comparison of all EU member states, the USA, and China, which showed the EU, unsurprisingly, first by some distance. And then came the real silliness.
To no surprise at all, this involved the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who had what they must have thought was a good idea at the time - to reimagine the Olympic medal table as if the British Empire were still extant. This would put us way in front of the EU, and indeed the rest of the world. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks.
To see just how wrong The Great Guido has gone here, we need look no further than the image behind the headline “Empire Goes For Gold”. This shows both the American Colonies - later the nascent USA - and what is known as British India. But the American Colonies were lost between 1776 and 1783, and British India did not come into being until the Crown took over from the East India Company in 1858.
It gets worse: the British Empire at its zenith included three EU member states other than the UK - Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. You can’t have “British Empire versus EU” because the two overlap.
And worse still: few, if any, of those countries that the Fawkes rabble have lumped into their mythical “British Empire” would consent to be so included nowadays.
And yet worse: consider all the competing “Empire” claims.
France - much of Africa, parts of the West Indies, Canada, and at a stretch, part of the USA.
Spain - much of Central and South America.
Portugal - enclaves in Africa, India, the Far East - and of course all of Brazil.
Or perhaps we should go all the way back to the Roman Empire, which may not have included Scotland, or even Northumberland, but would take in the rest of the UK, most of mainland Europe, North Africa, and part of the Middle East.
The Fawkes idea is a pile of steaming bullpucky. But that hasn’t stopped supremely gullible Tory MP Heather Wheeler from taking the Fawkes folks on trust - never a good idea - and gurgling happily “Now that's what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements”.
The USA, Ireland and probably others, not part of the British Commonwealth. It’s certainly Olympian, if only on the ridicule scale. Another fine mess, once again.