We had a very nice, and very welcome, holiday in France during August…I’ll write a bit on our latest French ‘sojourn’ in next week’s edition.
Back home…and as ever, Brexit and Trump seem to be dominating the news agenda, plus the beef farmers’ crisis (see report by Dan Dooner this week; comment from Seamus Duke).
Speaking of Brexit/Trump and such matters, the great man – Donald – was in Biarritz (for the latest G7 summit) while we were in France during August. What the locals think of Brexit and Trump and all that type of thing, I can’t really say. Well, I did meet one French man who greeted me in a café under a television showing Trump and Macron in conversation. The French man asked where I was from. Then he gestured towards the television. He raised his eyebrows, shrugged disapprovingly, and muttered his disdain. Enough said. He wasn’t great at the English and I wasn’t great at the French. The language of anti-Trumpism sufficed.
Anyway, it’s good to be back. I’ll throw in my tuppenceworth here on the issues of the day over the coming weeks, as I resume writing this column. As ever, I mostly avoid the serious stuff on this page, instead taking a wry and hopefully humorous view of matters. After all, you really do have to laugh…
I caught a glimpse of the laugh-a-minute Eastenders the other day (Memo to self: insert ‘I don’t watch it; it just happened to be on when I was in the room’ here)…and it was the familiar mayhem.
Some chap was in the Queen Vic bar…holding customers hostage at gunpoint. Not the greatest actor of all time, he was engaging the manic stare which ‘baddies’ are presumed to call on in these circumstances. Unsurprisingly, virtually all the locals seemed to be in the pub, even though it was early evening (they do drink a lot in the soaps, don’t they?). Naturally, a pregnant woman was singled out by the hostage-taker. Meanwhile, good old Phil Mitchell (laughably trying to look tough) seemed to be trying to break into the bar with an iron bar, with a view to being the hero of the (half) hour.
A few questions: (1) Is this interminably dreary ‘soap’, with its diet of violence and misery, really appropriate viewing for 7.30/8 pm? (2) Why did I watch it? (3) How come the Queen Vic is doing so well? It’s amazing people still frequent it, considering all the trouble there’s been there over the years…(4) If there’s a television in the Queen Vic and you tuned into BBC 1 on it most weekdays at 7.30/8 pm, what programme would be on?
A helping hand…
Monday morning, and for some strange reason, the television was on. Rushing around, I could just about hear the soft but firm tones of the man’s voice. Ah, probably Dr. Phil, I thought. I usually only see him once or twice a year, and that’s always late at night. Dr. Phil is yer only man. From what I could hear on Monday, he seemed to have a lost soul on as a guest…a bumbling, deflated, middle-aged man beset with woes.
It sounded like Dr. Phil was patiently trying to hold his guest by the hand, to lead him towards a better way. I could hear the usual gasps from the audience, the familiar self-pity of the guest, then the smooth, calming tones of the presenter.
It was only when I finally glanced at the television that I realised it wasn’t an episode of Dr. Phil; it was Leo and Boris’ press conference in Dublin.
Grumpy man talks for three hours…
Oh dear – he’s at it again. That noisy neighbour’s been sounding off yet again – and I, for one, am getting tired of it!
Once, he was a majestic, magnificent footballer, easily one of the greatest ever to grace the Premier League. There has never been a Captain Fantastic quite like him. We were proud of Roy then – this marauding Irishman who lorded the midfield battlegrounds with Manchester United – and we should still be proud of him now.
But then, as retirement sat uneasily with him, he slowly turned into a bit of a caricature. And now he’s at it again. In last week’s now famous Off the Ball Roadshow, attended by over 2,000 people, ‘Keano’ fired in all directions. To be fair, the tirade was offset by a considerable amount of humour and some wisdom. Gary Neville was present in a supporting role; in reality, it was all about Keane.
His fans will say it was sensational, that he’s unique…box office. He’s certainly box office. But should he be? Is it not all getting more than a bit tiresome? I’ll acknowledge that, as an interviewee in a cliché-ridden industry, Keane has always been refreshingly different…he’s honest, candid, a straight-talker, often very entertaining and insightful.
But there is also the strong suspicion that he is now at least in part performing a role for his audience, playing to the persona that has formed. The media utterly worships him. People expect drama and controversy when he’s in town. At the Bord Gáis Theatre, the presenters poked, and Keano responded. The crowd lapped it all up. Roy made sure to deliver his steely stare, the one that’s supposed to have people quaking.
Disquieting too is the reality that Keane can be nasty, vindictive, bitter, as he was at times during the Off the Ball Roadshow. Churlishly and childishly, Captain Fantastic claimed to have no empathy for Alex Ferguson, Keane’s ancient grudge seemingly more important than all their shared good times, not to mention Sir Alex’s brush with death. Or was Keano just playing up to the persona?
Irish international players whom Keane was coaching (with Martin O’Neill) less than a year ago, were ripped into, served up to a mostly salivating audience for cheap laughs. Does Keane really expect many job offers when he thinks it’s okay to poke fun at players that he was working with ten months ago? Is this really professional conduct by the great self-styled perfectionist?
For all the good one-liners, the ‘value’ he gives, the noisy neighbour is becoming a pain. Prone to hypocrisy. Too personal with his put-downs. Too angry. Too self-centred. Box office, perhaps, but many of us will choose to look the other way. A world class player is in danger of becoming a bitter world class bore.