I hooked up with a very old mate from uni the other night for a beer. He’s a semi-retired Cardiff-based teacher who’s been on a 6-month assignment at a very good girls school in Kingston and we’ve been catching up a bit over that time. His contract finished at Xmas but he has sort of fallen for this part of SW London so he’s continuing to come back to do some tutoring and some rowing. He’s one of my oldest mates – well he would be given that we left Aber Uni 40 years ago – and he’s lived a life as a sports mad, red-blooded bachelor ever since. In fact his life style has hardly changed since I first met him.
Anyway we were chatting away over a late beer/glass of wine about a range of stuff, mostly related to women and his many illnesses (most of which are more imaginary than deadly). Nothing much changes. Then he dropped the bomb-shell opinion that he reckons Ched Evans, the ex-footballer convicted of rape, is getting a tough time in the media. And what did I think about it? I’ve covered my views on this unrepentant moron (Evans, not my mate) previously. Now my pal is intelligent, friendly and thoughtful. A good guy but I was kind of shocked, no surprised would be a better word, by his views. His arguments were based on the logic that a) Evans shouldn’t be judged especially in responsible media until the appeal is heard (fine but then he’d be well advised to not seek re-employment at a football club until that process is over either) b) he believes the evidence suggests the girl in the case acted pretty sluttily and was clearly on the make after the event (which still seems to ignore the issue of consent or not) and, least compelling of all, c) worse things have happened on some rugby trips he’s been on. Sigh.
To be fair to my friend he did say that he considered the whole incident was beyond sordid and his arguments were largely, but not exclusively, legalistic. But the fact was he was partly sympathetic to the predicament of Ched Evans. He struggled to understand why I was so antagonistic towards the chump. But I explained that my perspective was hugely influenced by being a husband and father of three daughters, a situation alien to him. In short my attitude was less concerned with fine legal points or sexual antics and more to do with basic attitudes towards women which can still appear prehistoric amongst clusters of men, not least highly-paid and poorly-educated footballers whose brains appear to be in their jock-straps.
Now I don’t want to sound all holier-than-thou over this because heaven knows I’m no saint and I appreciate my friend was quick to express his disgust of the seeming rehabilitation of footballers who had previously been found guilty of killing people whilst driving and hadn’t attracted anything like the publicity Ched Evans had. Yep true. So I don’t want to paint things in black and white here. But my friend is a teacher and his pupils are teenage girls and I guess I was expecting a more enlightened point of view I suppose. It was a raw discussion to be honest and not what either of us was expecting from a quiet late night drink between old pals. But that’s today’s dopey footballers for you; their actions and attitudes can drive you to distraction.
And then I came home and reflected that I might have come over a bit sanctimonious until I happened upon an article about Phil Neville, a recently-retired footballer and BBC pundit now who’s been mocked a bit for his flat delivery. He’s not just dull he’s also not the brightest star in the firmament. But what the heck, it’s he not me who’s employed by the BBC for his fascinating insight so what do I know? Well what I do now know is that 37 year old Phil has lived his life without making a cup of coffee. Eh? Yep, there’s a feature in the Manchester Evening News that a journalist paid a visit last week to interview our Phil and when asked if he’d like a drink asked for a coffee, which set our bright lad into a blind panic. His wife was out and he’d never made a cup of the instant in his entire life. He had to telephone his wife for instructions. His wife later said…
‘It is true that Phil did make his first coffee last week. We’ve been together for 18 years and he has never made me a drink. He has also never used a hoover, mop, dishwasher, or washing machine.’
Good grief. How do these people get through life? I guess by having an indulgent mother, club, agent and dopey wife/girlfriend prepared to do every little task for them. The little lambs.
It appears too that Phil’s brother Gary, another ex-footballer pundit, is also lacking some domestic skills. In a fly-on-the-wall documentary in 2000, David Beckham was preparing dinner at Gary Neville’s home and asked for a wooden spoon – only for Neville to open a cupboard and discover he had a hitherto unknown dishwasher. Now that’s magic. He also told Beckham he thought the cooker was ‘on fire’ when he saw the gas flame. Sigh.
I’ve a grandson who is a mad-keen footballer and currently at a league club’s academy and one day he may be one of the lucky ones who makes it into the professional ranks. I hope so. But if he does you can rest assured that no matter how much mess he makes learning, he’ll be capable of making a cup of tea and coffee well before he’s 37 and I’m sure he will know how to treat women with proper respect. I may just wait a while to introduce him to my old friend though (only joking mate).