Whilst tourist boards in Latin America and Eastern Europe were still busy thanking Jeremy Clarkson for his latest endearing remarks, two other social pariahs, Richard “smash it” Keys and Andy Gray, were welcomed back into the media fold this week taking the morning slot on TalkSport radio.
The prodigal sons return was greeted with considerably less fanfare than their ignominious departure from Sky two weeks ago and I couldn’t help but be a little disheartened by the announcement from TalkSport programme director Moz Dee, (since when has that passed for a name by the way?), that Keys and Gray’s remit will not extend to current affairs or politics. I was sincerely looking forward to Gray’s take on the
Middle East peace process, though I do worry if he would be fully able to articulate his views without the use of his trusty supercomputer. I guess now we’ll never know.
Like Clarkson, Keys and Gray are well placed to testify to the enduring truth that everybody loves a good witch hunt. Disregarding the severity of their indiscretions for a moment, most people’s overriding feeling, myself included, was not anger at their comments, but pleasure in seeing the once mighty and impossibly smug fall from grace.
However, a confession: since that time I have missed listening to their infuriating commentary and forced ‘banter’ when watching football on Sky, not because I enjoyed it, far from it; I have missed it because it never failed to rile and at times incense me. In short: I have missed not being annoyed by Keys and Gray. I’ve missed the feeling of personal offence caused when they said something I knew was complete nonsense, (zonal marking anyone?).
We all have our own guilty pleasures, I’m sure. The Daily Mail, The Jeremy Kyle Show, Simon Cowell, Fox News; these may all divide opinion, but you can be sure that those people who are annoyed most by any of the above, take the greatest pleasure in seeking out the source of their annoyance. I know I do.
If I was a practitioner of beer-mat psychology, which of course I am, I’d argue that the feeling of indignation we get from these sources allows us, in our own heads, to feel morally and intellectually superior to the spouters of these views. And to shatter the illusion somewhat, I’m sure that all of these people are aware of this. I’m sure they revel in it, they long to be the person we all love to hate and adopt the pantomime persona we all clamour for accordingly. There are those that go too far of course, those that we just hate: the Richard Littlejohns and the Robert Killroy Silks of this world. The type of people that if you were to get into a fight with and somebody said “leave it they’re not worth it”, they’d actually be correct, but you wouldn’t ‘cos they’re just that annoying. But by and large these nasty pieces of work are in the minority.
There are also those on the other side, the self-righteous, those whose moral compasses seemed to be tuned to a higher frequency than the rest of ours and aren’t they just determined to let the rest of us know about it.
It is this group, which argue that TalkSport shouldn’t be employing denounced sexists like Keys and Gray, who have obviously never had the pleasure of tuning into medium wave 1053. I fear Mike Graham and Eamon Dunphy may be shunning Keys and Gray in the TalkSport canteen as we speak for believing the earth is round and being part of the political correctness gone mad brigade.
This type of argument insults the intelligence of football fans who mostly know drivel when they hear it and can identify prejudice and discrimination for themselves. That isn’t to say TalkSport is prejudice free, it most certainly isn’t, but most listeners are aware of this fact, they listen to it for precisely the guilty pleasure reasons discussed above. Some even have a nickname for the programme in which the word “Talk” remains and “Sport” is replaced by another word beginning with “S”, though I can’t for the life of me think what…