Theresa May should tell Boris that the advent of Philip Neville as an effective anaesthetic means water cannons are no longer needed

Neville revealed himself to be a viciously soporific dullard


Although Roy Hodgson was right to point out that many positives could be drawn from England’s startlingly impressive and unlucky defeat to Italy in Manaus, the England manager overlooked potentially the most important of them all. This was understandable. Stuck in a dugout 200 miles from the Equator as he necessarily was, Roy was spared the ordeal of the BBC’s coverage, and, specifically, the co-commentary of Philip Neville.

While there is a rebuttal to the received wisdom that Philip Neville is the worst pundit in the entire history of televised football (if that doesn’t unfairly limit his range), “have you not heard Andy Townsend over on ITV?” is no stronger a defence than England’s when leaving Mario Balotelli free to head the Italian winner. Our Phil analysed an electrifying game with half the vocal variety and emotional engagement of Stephen Hawking’s computerised voice.

Advocates of the Double Namer Theory, which contends that no good can emerge from those given the same name twice (Bobby Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, Lolita paedophile Humbert Humbert, etc), will not be surprised that this son of Neville Neville revealed himself to be a viciously soporific dullard.

Yet while it would be remarkable if even the complacency of BBC Sport extended to retaining him, he deserves a bright oratorical future. After her embarrassing squabble with Michael Gove over “Trojan Horse” schools in Birmingham, Theresa May will want to avoid further internecine skirmishing with Conservative colleagues. So to the Home Secretary we suggest this obvious solution to her battle of wills with the Mayor of London.

She should inform Boris that the advent of Philip Neville as an effective, side-effect-free anaesthetic means that his purchase of three second-hand water cannons from Germany can no longer be justified, but that her department will fund the dozen powerful speaker systems through which Our Phil will be broadcast in the event of future rioting on London’s streets.

AFM Aaronovitch seems to be in retreat

Events in Iraq raise concerns among fans of the most widely respected military leader the world has known since the stricken Colonel Sanders licked his fingers for the final time and expired. Armchair Field Marshal (AFM) the Lord David Aaronovitch, the bellicose Times columnist whose recent oeuvre offers such cheery headlines as 2010’s “Iraq has moved forward, it’s time we did too” – and last year’s “Now we know why we invaded Iraq” – seems to be in retreat.

Although hopes of a full recantation proved naive, on Friday the AFM revealed that he declined an offer to explain the war’s transcendent success on a TV show, positing that further discussion of the matter would be “self-indulgent”, and citing his “straightforward lack of expertise”. However refreshing, this denial of his own omniscience comes a little late in the day, and the least this tenacious warmonger should do is debate in public. Perhaps George Galloway would care to test the limits of David’s courage under fire with an invitation. If the AFM vacated his trusty armchair for that, I believe the  self-indulgence would be forgiven.

Let uncensored joy abound: Gaunty is back

Prepare to read the words for which you have yearned for far too long. Gaunty’s back! The erstwhile sage of TalkSport, has resurfaced as host of No Nonsense With Jon Gaunt on Fubar Live, an “uncensored” internet radio station which features such other broadcasting Goliaths as The Only Way Is Essex’s Amy Childs, and The  Barry and Angelos Show (“Angelos Epithemiou joins potty-mouthed octogenarian Barry from Watford as they spin their favourite tunes”).

Indeed, I had the pleasure of joining Gaunty by phone on Saturday, albeit as a late replacement for my colleague Mark Steel, who had been invited on to discuss Sepp Blatter but found himself unavoidably detained by the boiling of a kettle.

Unfortunately, the arrival of a pizza curtailed our chat in its infancy, but I hope to return to discuss Gaunty’s masterminding of the Police Federation’s campaign against Andrew Mitchell, and (when the sub judice rules no longer apply) the inclusion among his Top Ten Greatest Living Brits of Rolf Harris.

Determinism rules

In a seismic political upset, a leading US Republican, the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has been defeated in a primary by a Tea Party candidate with a Martin Amis character name. We wish Dave Brat all the best in November’s election, and congratulate the theory of nominative determinism on its most significant success since the revelation that Durex’s marketing chief in France was a certain Mlle Cecile Hardon.

Clarkson’s analysis would drive you to drink

In his latest foray into cultural analysis, Jeremy Clarkson focuses his mind on comparing the impact on the creative juices of cannabis and alcohol.

Although no fan of weed, which he informs Sunday Times readers entices smokers to “sprinkle frozen peas on a sherry trifle” at the dinner parties he attends (such a cliché, the munchies-driven dash to the garage for a bag of Bird’s Eye petit pois), he points out that while many artistic talents have been stoners, “nothing tremendous or brilliant has even been created by a drunk”.

Once again, Jeremy  dips a finger into the  pea-garnished trifle of human existence, and plucks out an unarguable truth. Vincent Van Gogh never so much as looked at a bottle of absinthe, while such literary titans as James Joyce, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway (“Write drunk”, as a Hemingway doctrine had it, “edit sober”) were also fabled abstainers. Jim Morrison, Francis Bacon, Amy Winehouse, Truman Capote… I could go on  and on.

The list of those who built their artistic brilliance on sobriety is, as Jeremy knows, virtually endless.

Twitter: @MatthewJNorman

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own