A call from the lady who might be termed my common law mother-in-law this morning, Audrey, who is aware of my aversion to listening to the news in the morning, and therefore acts as an occasional voluntary media monitoring service.
She often calls to tell me what people have said about me, always delighting in delivering mild expletives about critics, and warm words of support for supporters. She is as tribal as they come.
There were two stories she thought I might find interesting this morning, both of which she had heard on LBC. The first concerned David Cameron, who wants to be Prime Minister. The second concerned Clarke Carlisle, who wants Burnley to beat Portsmouth on Saturday, because he is our centre back.
He was in the news however, for something very different, namely his triumph yesterday when he fulfilled a lifelong ambition by being a contestant on Countdown.
Audrey is not yet on Twitter – give it time – so was unaware that I had tweeted about Clarke’s win yesterday. Then having seen the volume of traffic on Twitter about him, and all the texts I got, I thought I should take a look to see if he was as good as everyone was saying. He was. Not just good with the numbers and even better with the words, but polite and charming, and everything Premier League footballers are reckoned not to be.
When I was on Alan Titchmarsh’s programme recently, amid the John Terry/Ashley Cole fandangoes, I tried to mount a defence of footballers, saying that they were not all bad and the majority were actually decent characters who just happened to be good at football during the era it became a global multi-billion dollar sport.
The ‘thick footballer’ image is fairly well out there. But Clarke has gone a fair way to correcting it. I texted him last night to say that ‘Burnley player wins Countdown’ was running as the seventh most viewed story on the BBC website, ahead of the Westminster bubble’s latest mini frenzy about GB and Alistair Darling. As was obvious on the programme yesterday, he was a proud and happy man. Equally happy will be Channel 4 who will doubtless have a boost in ratings as Clarke defends his title today.
As for the Cameron story which tickled Audrey’s fancy, it was the revelation that he was a bit of a dunce when he was at Heatherdown prep school in his pre-Eton days. Bottom in Latin and Maths. Second bottom in Geography and French. Worst overall performer in his class by the year-end.
The poor Maths performance obviously explains why he and George cannot come up with an economic policy that withstands more than two minutes scrutiny. His woeful record on Geography and French is perhaps the reason why he has devised a policy on Europe that would take us to the exit door of the European Union. And bottom in Latin? … no wonder he is so jealous of Boris.
Anyway, Audrey thought I would be tickled by the thought that Burnley players are cleverer than the man who would be PM. I kind of knew it of Clarke anyway, but it is good to have it confirmed.
*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise money for Labour (yesterday’s Electoral Commission report underlined once more the uphill battle against the Tories’ spending power) http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.