I just loved Stephen Hendry's comment that snooker is classier than darts. Personally I haven't got much time for either "sport" but I love it when opposing disciplines start getting down and dirty.
It reminds me of when some no-hoper from Hollyoaks got really angry at a couple of ex-Big Brother contestants who were getting drunk at some showbiz party – they were not "proper celebrities" he sniffed. Hendry seemed to have the same attitude – there's no way you'd catch young Stephen downing vats of lager and screaming profanities at the oche. His comments came after someone suggested that snooker – which is seen as a dying sport – could be revitalised by introducing some of the "party" atmosphere that enlivens the average darts competition. For Hendry this was an absolute no-no. He clearly enjoys the monastic atmosphere as two dull men wander around a green table in ugly waistcoats knocking coloured balls into pockets. If somebody had to invent a duller pastime then they'd have a tough job. Give me the atmosphere of a Cockney knees-up in a brewery any day over the organised Mogadon of snooker. I actually went to a darts match quite recently. It was at my local caravan site – not a place that I frequent but it does have a big pool with a big slide and my kids love it so, occasionally, I don a wig and accompany them there.
This last time there were big signs advertising a darts competition that evening. For the purposes of research I returned later wearing a full disguise – should I have been recognised there my social life in the Cotswolds would have been ruined. Sorry, I know I sound like a snooker player but it's the truth. I slipped in and sat at one of the long tables that lined the room. Without ordering them, huge jugs of beer were placed before me and I got drinking. By the time the first "throwers" were on the oche I was completely bladdered, as was the rest of the room. Fat women with overly bleached hair stood up and shouted sweet nothings at the portly athletes while the male spectators harangued each other with rival chants. I sat very quietly and hoped that nobody would pick on me for my lack of enthusiastic aggression. After my third jug, however, I was up and screaming with the best of them. A large brassy woman put her arms round me and together we rocked to and forth, screaming gibberish and having a wonderful time.
I have to admit to loving the whole thing, although I was relieved to have slipped out early as a big fight broke out towards the end. I tried to imagine the scene at snooker. The crowd at the Crucible off their faces screaming and burping and putting the players off ... it would be amazing. Surely darts requires no less concentration than snooker? Just because they're wearing waistcoats doesn't mean that they need special treatment. I'd go further and encourage total crowd participation, with them being allowed to flour-bomb a player for a rubbish shot.
The secret to successful sport is that it works on TV. The golf authorities need to look at my ideas for jazzing up golf – "Golf War Three". This is a normal round apart from the fact that landmines have been hidden along the course that, if stepped on, spray the player in purple dye. There is also "the joker" – this is a clown who drives around in a specially converted golf cart trying to hit the players. It would be a cross between golf and It's A Knockout and would take the world by storm. This is how snooker should be thinking – out of the box. I've got loads of ideas like this that people like Hendry should be knocking at my door to access, but he's too stuck up. Darts are way ahead – there was even a darts player on Radio Four last week proposing that school kids should be taught maths by playing darts. Apparently, darts players become fantastic at maths and this could be an exciting way to teach kids ... it's total rubbish but they're really selling the "sport". Snooker players need to ditch the dodgy waistcoats and wear more fun outfits. Maybe they can dress up as their favourite ball? The 8 Ball character could be the baddy, always having fights with cues, the pink could be the "sensitive" one etc. Call me, Hendry. I'll save your "sport".
Consult a doctor for some real help with your virtual exercise regime
I'll make a mint when Murray cracks a smile
New Year's resolutions have kicked in and I've been down to my local gym to work out. Things have seriously moved on since I was last in one. Now you have computer keys that you put into every machine that tell you what your workout needs to be and records your efforts. I particularly like the new bicycle machines that are like big video games. You race against opponents on a screen and I get really into it.
We got a Wii Fit at home for Christmas as well so I find myself doing a lot of "virtual" exercise at the moment. I do a touch of virtual yoga and some ski jumping at home before driving into the gym to undertake the New York Marathon or the Tour de France on machines. So far I have barely left the outskirts of Paris but I'm hoping to bump into the cycling "doctor" soon who will help me with special cycling drugs and I'll be on my way...
Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam this year? I've got a hundred quid on that he'll smile in public first...