Saturday 20 April 2013
Rebecca Tyrrel: Geoffrey Boycott’s nickname, Thatch, arose from an unfortunate hair transplant
Who knew that Theresa May's guiding light is not Mrs Thatcher, or even her near namesake porn star Teresa May, but that emblem of plain-speaking Yorkshire bluntness, Geoffrey Boycott?
It has nothing to do with his nickname, Thatch, which arose from an unfortunate hair transplant, or with his unlikely passion for feng shui, though that might appeal to such a crisply organised operator. It was his dourness as a Test batsman that seduced the little Theresa.
As an only child growing up in the 1960s, when Boycott was establishing himself as England's opening batsman, she would sit with her father Hubert Brasier, a vicar, listening to the cricket on the radio. "He kind of solidly got on with what he was doing," she says.
The two have more in common than professional stolidness. Both have taken a strong interest in domestic violence. As minister for women and equality, as well as Home Secretary, she told a 2010 Women's Aid conference that "no one in this room will need reminding why I take violence against women so seriously".
Boycott has come at the issue from an almost imperceptibly different angle. He was convicted of and given a fine and suspended sentence for repeatedly punching his girlfriend in 1996 in a French hotel room, allegedly enraged by her nagging him to marry her. Although this proud member of Ukip seemed not to recognise the jurisdiction of the court to judge him, and did not attend the trial. When another girlfriend later told him she was pregnant, meanwhile, he was, he later recalled, angrier than he had ever been in his life.
Despite this small divergence of opinions, Theresa's love for Boycott survives to this day. In fact, he may be more an inspiration to her now than ever. Although regarded much more as a lone wolf than a team player, he too was desperate to lead his country. As Theresa will recall, when he finally achieved his ambition, and became captain of the England cricket team during a foreign tour of 1978, it did not go well or last long.
This may be an equally disturbing 'beware what you wish for' moral for a rival prime ministerial wannabe. When running for the Labour leadership, Ed Miliband also cited him a personal hero, saying that he is attracted by "the charisma of imperfection".
One way or t'other, it seems that spirit of Geoffrey Boycott is on its way to Downing Street.
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