Now Rooney’s got hairs, he’s rediscovered his graces

So far, what do you think? So far, I am missing the Women's World Cup in the summer, oh they were so skilful, strong, clever, never argued with the ref, yet could get stuck in, pass, shoot, head and had great skin, great hair styles, great looks, great - where was I? - oh yes, compared with our lumbering male heroes.

Wayne at least does look much better now with his hair growing, though for some reason it makes his face look fatter, his body heavier, but it has certainly brought back his confidence. He is not getting upset as much, doing stupid tackles. I see a great season ahead for him and Man United.

Hair matters. What else have the poor petals got to think about during those long, empty dreary hours in their hotel room but look at themselves in the mirror and think, hmm, wish I looked like Becks, the bastard. Or, what about another tattoo?

Wayne's hair op has clearly worked, compared with poor old Ed Miliband's adenoids job. He sounds worse, if anything. I do hope Gary Neville does not use the same expert when Sky tells him he'll have to have his voice fixed, and his hair, and his suit, and his posture. Apart from that Gary, you is doing great.

I did fear that Ray-oh-my-word-Wilkins would never improve, not even a tad, that we would be stuck with his banalities for ever, but to my amazement he has already told me something I was not aware of. He was commenting on the Chelsea-Stoke game, after yet another Rory Delap long throw, and he said that Carlo (Ancelotti) had always told Petr Cech to stay on his goal line for the Delap throws. But now he was coming out for them, obviously given different instructions by the new Chelsea manager. Until then, I had not noticed the difference. Well done, Ray.

I still have not got my eyes attuned to Ashley Young in a Man United shirt, or Gaël Clichy in a Man City shirt, Shay Given not sitting for 90 minutes on a bench or Sam Allardyce prowling the touchline at er, God, forgotten already where he has landed, oh yes, West Ham. Players, we are told, take ages to bed down, but it is just as hard for fans when players change their natural habitat.

Aguero looks excellent at Man City, though David Silva is still their best player, but they have acquired so many excellent players recently it is hard to look at the bench and recognise who the waiting stars are. Compared with Arsenal. Dear God, what is going to become of them, shrivelling before our eyes.

Wenger had a form of seizure during the Liverpool defeat, violently attacking his scalp. Is it a form of psychosis, suffering a psychological blow so you inflict physical pain upon yourself, self-harming out of imagined guilt? That'll be five guineas.

No-trick pony

Theo Walcott, what a lovely boy, you would be pleased if your daughter wanted to marry him, or your son, let us not be sexist, but he does not seem to have improved in the past couple of years. As a winger, he has no tricks, can't dribble, can only beat the fullback with speed. As a striker, which he appears to fancy himself as, he can't score, well not often enough. It could be his youth and tendency to prematurely ejaculate, getting over-excited, too hurried, rushing at things. Calm down, dear heart.

Tom Cleverley of Man United is one of the new kids, risen through the ranks, not bought at the international supermarket, so we hope he does well. Still a bit nervous, and no wonder, having to go through life with that surname, boring school teachers and idiot coaches always making the same corny jokes. What a burden. However, it didn't stop George Best, Frank Swift or Robby Savage being handicapped by their nomenclature. It all came true.

Two new mohicans been spotted: Ping Pong, I mean Frimpong, at Arsenal, and Meireles at Liverpool, while Gervinho, the Ivorian who has arrived at Arsenal from Lille, what is he wearing? Is it a beard, is it a bird? Is it a hat, is it a herd? Only two weeks into the Premiership and it looks as if he is a stone wall, nailed-on cert for Haircut of the Season. These things matter, oh yes.

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 29 August 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Gold

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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.