Joan Smith: Mocking Roy Hodgson's speech defect – hilarious

The front page was in the same Sun tradition as calling Frank Bruno 'bonkers'

Share
Related Topics

When the Labour peer Lord Ashley died last month, warm tributes were paid to his work on behalf of disabled people. Ashley became profoundly deaf in the middle of his career, when he was already an MP, and learned to make speeches in Parliament even though he could no longer hear his own voice. No one would dream of mocking a deaf politician's distinctive delivery, but The Sun thinks it's hilarious that the new England football manager has a speech impediment.

Roy Hodgson has an impediment known as rhotacism, or an inability to pronounce the letter R. This seems to have caused an outburst of uncontrollable mirth at the tabloid, which mocked Hodgson yesterday in childish headlines: "Woy gets England job. Bwing on the Euwos! (We'll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance)."

Now, I can well imagine that the paper's staff were in dire need of diversion after this week's damning select committee verdict on their proprietor. But it might just have crossed their minds that the Hodgson front page was in a tradition of offensive Sun headlines leading back to the infamous occasion when it described Frank Bruno as "bonkers". The boxer had just been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and the then editor, Rebekah Wade – now Brooks – faced a storm of protest.

I don't know whether there's a subliminal suggestion of effeminacy here, but Hodgson wasn't The Sun's choice for the job. That was Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, who used to write a column for the paper despite a mysterious episode during his recent trial for tax evasion – he was acquitted – when he claimed to write like a two-year-old. Hodgson, by contrast, is a Renaissance man in the world of football, fluent in several languages and an admirer of the novels of Milan Kundera.

Given how poor the English are at foreign languages, it seems all the odder to mock someone who's overcome a speech impediment with such success. The King's Speech produced a wave of sympathy for stammerers, who sometimes learn to control their delivery through tricks which leave audible traces. Yet it's still acceptable in some quarters to make fun of how someone speaks, as both David Beckham and the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston, have found to their cost.

Beckham rarely speaks in public but it's part of Peston's job, and I don't suppose he enjoyed the headline suggesting that he sounds "like a Dalek doing a bad impression of Kenneth Williams". Margaret Thatcher's advisers famously feared she came across as "shrill"; they arranged for her to have lessons with a professional voice coach.

As for the new England manager, he seems decent, well-educated and grown-up. That's more than I can say for yesterday's heartless headlines.

www.politicalblonde.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones