Bernard Manning, R.I.P.

The Pakistani parliament mourns the passing of the politically-incorrent comic and David Miliband co

Of the Queen’s Honours list, Reactionary Snob noted: “If you listened very carefully you could actually hear Blair pulling out the pin of the hand grenade last week... this was going to cause a shitstorm, and a shitstorm it has caused.”

He was of course highlighting the decision to honour Salman Rushdie. Reactionary Snob goes on to take apart Pakistan’s religious affairs minister’s condemnation of the honour in language too graphic to be repeated here, though still worth a look.

Over at Times Online, Daniel Finkelstein called the decision to knight Rushdie a “bold and correct one” and has emailed a petition off to the Number 10 Downing Street website. He said: “I think it is important that we show that we are not prepared to be cowed by this sort of threat.”

The petition will be put up as soon as it is accepted and reads: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to accept our congratulations for recommending to the Queen that Salman Rushdie receive a knighthood.”

Iain Dale's reaction to the furore was entitled “Salman Rushdie Does Not Deserve a Knighthood But He Must Keep It” and concluded with a bold statement: “Perhaps our response should be to cut off all our millions of pounds of aid to Pakistan until this minister is sacked from the Pakistani government.”

Another controversial figure who made the blog discussion boards this week was Bernard Manning - who wrote in his own obituary he was pleased he was not going to the same place as “the po-faced, politically-correct brigade.”

Following Manning's death on Monday, Obsolete wrote: “On hearing of the sad news, the Pakistani parliament immediately adjourned the session and called for a motion on declaring an official day of mourning, which was passed unanimously. The Pakistan religious affairs minister, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, was one of the first to eulogise about Manning's demise:‘He may have been politically incorrect, but at least he didn't BLASPHEME like that bastard Rushdie. I call for any suicide bombers who might have thought of targeting Manning's funeral to instead hold their laughter.’”

David Miliband launched Defra’s Carbon Calculator this week, with a short movie explaining how it was done. He also honestly provided us with his results: “My individual footprint (for personal not ministerial energy, electrical appliances and transport) came out at a respectable three tonnes, though when the rest of the family were included we were a bit above average thanks to a couple of long-haul flights.”

Unfortunately, Defra seem to have under-estimated the amount of interest in carbon calculation as too many people tried to use it and the server crashed. I wonder if it can calculate just how much energy was wasted by PCs trying to access the site.

Alun Davies AM has been recruiting Welsh politicians for the annual Parliamentary Shield – a football match played between political representatives of the Home Nations, sponsored by McDonald's. Check out Blamerbell’s fantasy Welsh team here.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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If there’s no booze or naked women, what’s the point of being a footballer?

Peter Crouch came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

At a professional league ground near you, the following conversation will be taking place. After an excellent morning training session, in which the players all worked hard, and didn’t wind up the assistant coach they all hate, or cut the crotch out of the new trousers belonging to the reserve goalie, the captain or some senior player will go into the manager’s office.

“Hi, gaffer. Just thought I’d let you know that we’ve booked the Salvation Hall. They’ll leave the table-tennis tables in place, so we’ll probably have a few games, as it’s the players’ Christmas party, OK?”

“FECKING CHRISTMAS PARTY!? I TOLD YOU NO CHRISTMAS PARTIES THIS YEAR. NOT AFTER LAST YEAR. GERROUT . . .”

So the captain has to cancel the booking – which was actually at the Salvation Go Go Gentlemen’s Club on the high street, plus the Saucy Sporty Strippers, who specialise in naked table tennis.

One of the attractions for youths, when they dream of being a footballer or a pop star, is not just imagining themselves number one in the Prem or number one in the hit parade, but all the girls who’ll be clambering for them. Young, thrusting politicians have similar fantasies. Alas, it doesn’t always work out.

Today, we have all these foreign managers and foreign players coming here, not pinching our women (they’re too busy for that), but bringing foreign customs about diet and drink and no sex at half-time. Rotters, ruining the simple pleasures of our brave British lads which they’ve enjoyed for over a century.

The tabloids recently went all pious when poor old Wayne Rooney was seen standing around drinking till the early hours at the England team hotel after their win over Scotland. He’d apparently been invited to a wedding that happened to be going on there. What I can’t understand is: why join a wedding party for total strangers? Nothing more boring than someone else’s wedding. Why didn’t he stay in the bar and get smashed?

Even odder was the behaviour of two other England stars, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. They made a 220-mile round trip from their hotel in Hertfordshire to visit a strip club, For Your Eyes Only, in Bournemouth. Bournemouth! Don’t they have naked women in Herts? I thought one of the points of having all these millions – and a vast office staff employed by your agent – is that anything you want gets fixed for you. Why couldn’t dancing girls have been shuttled into another hotel down the road? Or even to the lads’ own hotel, dressed as French maids?

In the years when I travelled with the Spurs team, it was quite common in provincial towns, after a Saturday game, for players to pick up girls at a local club and share them out.

Like top pop stars, top clubs have fixers who can sort out most problems, and pleasures, as well as smart solicitors and willing police superintendents to clear up the mess afterwards.

The England players had a night off, so they weren’t breaking any rules, even though they were going to play Spain 48 hours later. It sounds like off-the-cuff, spontaneous, home-made fun. In Wayne’s case, he probably thought he was doing good, being approachable, as England captain.

Quite why the other two went to Bournemouth was eventually revealed by one of the tabloids. It is Lallana’s home town. He obviously said to Jordan Henderson, “Hey Hendo, I know a cool club. They always look after me. Quick, jump into my Bentley . . .”

They spent only two hours at the club. Henderson drank water. Lallana had a beer. Don’t call that much of a night out.

In the days of Jimmy Greaves, Tony Adams, Roy Keane, or Gazza in his pomp, they’d have been paralytic. It was common for players to arrive for training still drunk, not having been to bed.

Peter Crouch, the former England player, 6ft 7in, now on the fringes at Stoke, came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage