(if, in fact, Garth doesn’t come to where you work to knock the dick out of your mouth, perhaps that’s because you’ve not given him the address?)
A conflict with Saturday’s North Texas/UT game meant that I missed the glorious spectacle that was England’s 5-0 dispatch of Andorra in their first Euro 2008 qualifier. If the Guardian’s Martin Kelner is to be believed, I also missed the (intentional) comedy debut of Garth Crooks.
He delivered his material – “Hear the one about the tortoise being mugged by some snails? It all happened so fast” – with a fixed expression of displeasure which reminded you of Tony Hancock, Jack Dee or, perhaps, Peter Kay turned upside down.
You expect professionalism from Garth, it’s almost guaranteed. But if you’d only seen this two-minute package, you’d have thought he’d spent his entire life on the stage. And, seeing there’s only so many England coaches you can grill as if they were leaders of a Cold War nation, there must surely come a time when it’s time to move on. In fact, expect him on the Edinburgh Fringe next year, delivering anecdotes on a life in football, mixed with the odd observation on how iPods are rubbish.
As in so many things, Garth set the tone on Saturday and his colleagues followed. As Alan Shearer pointed out later in the afternoon, the England match was a chance to “get the feelgood factor back”. He was probably talking about the football, but might as well have meant himself and his colleagues after an arduous summer spent in apoplexy over the behaviour of The Swede. Indignation, outrage and low-level xenophobia isn’t good for anyone, least of all Shearer, whose observation after the Portugal game that Wayne Rooney might “stick one on Ronaldo” left some viewers worrying that Old Elbows himself might run amok in his nearest Nando’s.
On Saturday the laughter was plentiful and directed mainly at the paucity of England’s opposition. Shearer said the game would be just as tough if you lined up 10 dustbins in front of goal. Ian Wright, who continues to remind us that black people can be white-van men too, was transfixed by the Andorran left-back. “He’s four foot one” he chirruped, a remark that amused him so much that he dissolved into giggling like Homer Simpson chasing squirrels round his back garden. Typically, only Alan Hansen failed to get in the spirit of things, his one concession to the mood of frolic being that England’s football was “a bit laconic”.
While they say that laughter is the best medicine, often they’re only doing so because they’ve run out of antibiotics.