I was only about four years old when England won the World Cup in 1966 and I barely remember that unique moment of national footballing ecstasy, but various people have been promising me ever since that “football’s coming home”. That it has yet to do so, clearly preferring to sojourn in more glamorous destinations such as Brazil, Italy and Spain, or – rather spitefully, if you ask me – in France or Germany, has not dampened my ardour one iota and last night found me in front of the game against Scotland, bellowing out a medley of our favourite football anthems with the best of them.

But what makes a great football anthem? Do they emerge from the terraces at the stadiums themselves or are they the brainchild of marketing executives, asks Paul Carr. And does it matter, as long as they’ve got a catchy melody and an easily memorised chorus?

Aside from the lesser-spotted football fan, another creature known for its singing is the nightingale. And it was that famously musical bird that set ornithologist Andrew Ostler on his mission to chart the fascinating history of birds’ names in the British Isles, finding more than 7,000 folk names recorded in different areas for just 150 species in the English language alone.

The markedly suspicious language used to describe China at the recent G7 and Nato summits seems to be in stark contrast with overtures from Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has urged his country to revamp its image to present a more “credible, loveable and respectable China” in the interests of expanding its circle of friends. But, as Astrid Nordin and Graham Smith note, China and the west have distinctly different notions of what friendship means, which is likely to make such a close relationship fairly unlikely in the foreseeable future.

This week we also considered the way in which Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is using homophobia as a political tactic, revealed new research which suggests Darwin got his theory of sexual selection the wrong way round, and visited a graveyard in Kolkata to discover the untold stories of colonial-era Scottish women.

Our colleagues around the world, meanwhile, looked at how Black activists in the US have used grammar and punctuation to make their point, and how New Zealand has one of the lowest number of refugees per capita in the world. Africa, meanwhile, mourns Kenneth Kaunda, a true giant of post-colonial politics.

Do try and find time this weekend to listen to The Conversation Weekly podcast, which looks at how Jair Bolsonaro has militarised democracy in Brazil, and also to explore our growing archive of audio articles which offers a wide array of topics for your listening pleasure.

Jonathan Este

Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor

Three Lions writers Ian Broudie, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. PA Images / Alamy

Football’s coming home – what makes a great football anthem

Paul Carr, University of South Wales

From Three Lions to You’ll Never Walk Alone, some songs have become unique expressions of love that fans have for the game and their teams.

The common nightingale is a small songbird best known for its powerful song. Biodivlibrary/Flickr

There are over 7,000 English names for birds – here’s what they teach us about our changing relationship with nature

Andrew Gosler, University of Oxford

Research suggests our names for birds reflect our changing relationship with the natural world: here's why that matters

EPA-EFE/Erik S. Lesser

China and the west: competing traditions make true friendship highly unlikely – here’s why

Professor Astrid H. M. Nordin, King's College London; Graham M Smith, University of Leeds

The idea of friendship means very different things in Chinese and Euro-American traditions.

The passage of a bill cracking down on LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary has sparked waves of protests. Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE

Hungarian anti-LGBTQ+ law is a political tactic for Orbán

Umut Korkut, Glasgow Caledonian University; Roland Fazekas, Glasgow Caledonian University

A new anti-LGBTQ+ law in Hungary is populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's tactic for securing support ahead of elections.

Males elephant seals dwarf their female counterparts. Sean Lema/Shutterstock

Darwin got sexual selection backwards, research suggests

Tamas Szekely, University of Bath

The sexual selection of larger males may be driven by an abundance – not a scarcity – of females.

A group of Scottish nurses who worked in a local government hospital in Calcutta in the mid-19th century.

How a Scottish graveyard in Kolkata revealed the untold stories of colonial women in India

Sayan Dey, University of the Witwatersrand

The disregarded lives and achievements of Scotswomen in colonial India are brought to light in new research from a 19th century graveyard in Kolkata.


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