The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show
“What do we all think now that Becks has retired, then?” asks Christian O’Connell, the presenter of Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show (weekdays, 6am) – and, as of 13 May, the first radio personality to win ten gold Sony Awards, the sector’s most prestigious accolade. “I mean, it’s big news,” he insists. “Front page of every single newspaper – looking dashing, as ever.” A brief silence as O’Connell contemplates Beckham, the ultimate figure of fiction. “It is big news,” concedes his co-host, Richie, like Auden considering Freud, “but I found that once he’d left the Premier League, I was kind of like, ‘OK, fine, go and have your fun,’ and then there was America and I was like, ‘OK, you know . . .’ and then France.” More drinking things in.
“Then I saw Chris Waddle yesterday,” expands Richie, his voice growing daring, “and he said, ‘Good player – but wouldn’t have said great.’” Typical Waddle. How a man with hair universally agreed to more closely resemble a psychological dysfunction can say of anyone, least of all Theo Walcott, “He doesn’t have a football brain,” is beyond me.
“Oh, really?” counters O’Connell, “because I would have thought you could say he was a great player” – and so on, proving that Beckham is simultaneously the most underrated and overrated player of all time. Also that people knock him not just because they are annoyed at the way he always hurled himself into self-promotion but because of the way the media consistently sold him as great, even during the times when he wasn’t. The whole thing is unbelievably boring – I apologise for even bringing it up.
But then The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show is unbelievably boring. This conversation – deemed to be so electrifying that it headlines the weekly Absolute podcast – was one of several equally boring conversations: what happened to the drinks sideboard as a item of furniture; the mighty Katherine Jenkins possibly looking less attractive without her make-up; and what appears to be the usual Wickes-sponsored section on power tools, all topped by Ian Wright thoroughly running the dangers of self-parody concerning the Premiership season. “The top end has been fine,” confirmed Wright, from a deep place in his unconscious soul. “The middle section has been good. And obviously . . . the bottom. You know what I mean?”