Back pages | Anorak - Part 62

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

England Rugby Players And Wags Hit The Nazi Lager In Paris

rugby-nazis.jpg“NOT since the Nazis occupied France and made the hotel one of their key Paris bases will the opulent and historic Trianon Palace, current home of the England rugby team, have seen so many WAGs.”

So says the Mail which gives an entire new angle on the England Rugby XV hitting the lagers in readiness for defence of their Rugby World Cup.

The reports continues: “But the wives and girlfriends of Phil Vickery and his merry men represent an altogether more welcome invading force than officers of the Wehrmacht and Gestapo.”

This all depends on perspective, of course. The hotel’s website offers the section Personal Guest Experiences which is unforgivably devoid of tributes from Nazi Wags and their players.

It cannot be ruled out that when leaving the hotel, along with the silver, the curtains and the wine the Nazis seized the guestbook. In a loft in deepest Bavaria there is surely the ledger containing such bon mots as “Wicked Time”, “Mental” and “By the time you read this I shall be Argentina”.

But the hotel that staged the signing of the Treaty of Trianon 1920, an agreement following World War I in which the Allies disposed of Hungarian territories, now pays host to Lawrence Dallaglio’s wife Alice, Jason Robinson’s wife Amanda (a keen caravaner) and Jonny Wilkinson’s girlfriend Shelly Jenkins.

In a thread between then and now, the featured Wags (billed as “Scrummies in the Telegraph) are all blonde.

Plus ca change, as they say in the better suites.

Hitler, Nazis and rugby [insert joke about funny-shaped balls here].

Posted: 6th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

England’s Bentley Continental: West Ham’s Alan Curbishley’s Local Heroes

gallery7.jpgALAN Curbishley is writing in the Express.

He begins with a question: “To start with, a quiz question: who do you suppose is the biggest seller in the club shop at West Ham?”

Curbishley is referring to shirt sales, the barometer of a player’s success. Bobby Moore, say we. Or what about Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst who played a key role in England’s World Cup success? Or how about Argentinean Carolos Tevez who kept West Ham in the top flight or Italy’s Paulo DiCanio?

The answer is Mark Noble.

Curbishley says this is not because Noble has only five letters in his surname and at £1 a letter there are big savings to be had when weighted against his team-mates Matthew Etherington, Calum Davenport and Fredrik Ljungberg.

We imagine that had Kieron Dyer not broken his leg he’d be pressing Noble for the coveted No.1 shirt spot.

But Curbishley has another idea. Says he: “But Mark is local and that’s why he appeals to the supporters so much.”

Curbishley does not provide figures for Noble shirt sales, which may number in single digits. He has a point to make and statistics even in this pro-zone era must not infringe on the manager’s theory.

He goes on: “Now, as England face two Euro 2008 qualifiers in the next nine days that are crucial to the future of our game, a vital player for Steve McClaren could be David Bentley.”

Curbishley’s point being that Bentley is English and therefore local to the England team. The article is entitled “Bentley could be our Rolls-Royce”. You know, the company owned by True British Volkswagen, although BMW hold the rights to the name and the marque.

Is Bentley more local than Frank Lampard, Emile Heskey and Michael Owen? Curbs doesn’t say. Perhaps he wants all England players to be born near Wembley Stadium, preference given to proximately to headquarters?

The message is that local is important. Curbishley remind us: “We at West Ham are doing our bit with eight Englishman in the team on Saturday.”

All very, well, Noble. Since becoming manager of West Ham (a club owned by an Icelander), Curbishley has brought in Henri Camara (Senegal), Nolberto Solano (Peru), Craig Bellamy (Wales), Kieron Dyer (England), Scott Parker (England), Julien Faubert (France), Richard Wright (England), Freddie Ljungberg (Sweden).

Says Curbishley: “Perhaps you were as shocked as I was when it was revealed that only 40 percent of all players who started in the Premier League on the opening day were English.”

Curbishley has every right to be shocked. Of the eight players he has brought to West Ham this season, three are English, giving Curbishley an England-foreigner reckoning of 37.5 per cent.

He is doing his bit to address this peculiarity…

Posted: 5th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich Does Not See The Light

abramovich.jpgTHEY say he sleeps upside down with his head in pot of molten gold.

They say his London home is powered by 2,000 eunuchs chewing on white tigers’ testicles.

They say Roman Abramovich did enter the Andrew Martin shop in Walton Street, South Kensington and try to buy a lamp.

He offered his polonium credit card. And it was declined. A witness, says the Times, saw all. They say Abramovich was “very polite about it”.

They say rivers started to run backwards and Britain’s richest man did walk on his hands in circles.

So they say…

Posted: 4th, September 2007 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Money | Comment (1)

Arctic Monkeys Take Piss Out Of England XI And McClaren’s Marvels

mcclaren.jpg“BET YOU LOT PEED ON DANCE FLOOR!” shrieks the Sun, whose equally bizarre subheading reads: “Arctic fans flood cricket pitch.”

The paper reports the England’s cricketers were “knocked for six” by the smell of their pitch yesterday after 100,000 arctic Monkeys fans had “used it as a giant LOO”.

The Monkeys’ Old Trafford concerts had left the outfield flooded with urine, and “England stars like Kevin Pietersen and Monty Panesar were puzzled by the whiff as they slid about on the grass during England’s thrilling three-wicket victory over India yesterday”.

Presumably England stars who are unlike Pietersen and Panesar were perfectly at home ankle-deep in old piss.

The story is a neat reversal of the usual relationship between England matches and stadium concerts.

Usually it is the music fans at who turn up their noses at the unmistakably pungent aroma that lingers on the pitch long after the latest performance by McClaren’s Marvels.

Posted: 31st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Net Losses: Football Burns More Calories Than Sex

maradonna-fat.jpg“GOIN’ DOWN!” cries the Star. “Watching footie burns more cals than sex.”

Strange but true, if a new study is to be believed.

It reckons that watching a match burns as many calories as 180 minutes of sex or 40 minutes of running.

Old Mr Anorak watches no football, but always has 180 minutes of sex on a Saturday afternoon, and he’s as fit as a fiddle, despite a drug habit that makes Keith Richards look like Delia Smith. (Actually, come to think of it…)

Anyway, the point is that to achieve this kind of calorie-burning, you have to be pretty active.

The survey reckons that the “jumping, dancing, yelling and air punching that goes into celebrating a goal burns off 81.5 calories, while even stamping, moaning and shouting at the ref involved in conceding one takes 61 calories.”

All good advice, but health-conscious Arsenal fans should take this with a pinch of salt (though not more than the recommended daily allowance).

As we all know, noisy and energetic behaviour is not the done thing inside the Emirates.

To burn off the required calories one should follow the example of medical experts and hit at least one steward (200 cals) and abuse two or more police officers (300-400 depending on length and volume).

But skip the two pints of beer if you are serious about losing weight.

Posted: 30th, August 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comments (4)

Debunking 9/11 With Robert Fisk’s Popular Mechanics

THE 9/11 Arab-based truthers are like the Holocasut deniers: it never happened but wouldn’t it be great if it had have. Not that it did. But great though if it did.

Dizzy looks:

I forgot to mention that on Saturday I read the single most hilarious Robert Fisk article ever. The piece was titled “Even I question the ‘truth’ about 9/11” in which Fisk hilariously asserts,

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious “war on terror” which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush’s happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that “we’re an empire now – we create our own reality”. True? At least tell us.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist but….”. Seriously, read the whole thing, it really is hilarious. He talks about all the conspiracy theories but frames them as “serious questions”. What I find a strange is that a journalist who acts like he’s well informed has not read Popular Mechanics or purchased their publication (cover pictured) which comprehensively rips apart every single one of the mentalists’ theories about the supposed “questions” around 9/11.

I mean, I’m not a fan of the Independent’s angle on the news generally. But what on earth is Simon Kelner and the Comment Editor playing at letting their paper be used to promote idiotic conspiracy theories that don’t stand up to scrutiny? I mean, it didn’t like being attacked by Blair as a “viewspaper”, but on Saturday it published an article that made it something else entirely.

Posted: 27th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (12)

What We Gonna Do? Life On Mars Behind Playground Bullying

mars.jpgAS the nation struggles to understand the violence of today’s youth culture, The Times offers a couple of pointers. (Pic: The Spine)

“GCSE writing contains ‘sickening violence’,” it declares. This refers to complaints by examiners that pupils taking English are writing increasingly violent prose when given titles like… er, “The Assassin”.

OK, so maybe that’s not a very good example. But surely no one could argue with the claim that gay-bashing is caused by the BBC time-travel drama Life on Mars.

Teachers unions have apparently claimed that the homophobic language of old-school seventies detective Gene Hunt was “harmful”, and that “Hunt’s use of ‘bender’ and ‘poof’ could be responsible for playground bullying”.

All very embarrassing for BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons, who praised the show and said it contained “some of the best one-liners I could hope for”.

The paper helpfully lists a few of Hunt’s bon mots, but sadly there’s no room to repeat them here.

We want to see them, you understandably wail.

Yes, indeed. But as DCI Hunt would say, “I want to hump Britt Ekland. What are we gonna do?”

Posted: 27th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Amy Winehouse Circumcises Her Demons

amy-winehouse-blake.jpgAMY Winehouse has been on the “slash” (Star). Winehouse is in London’s Sanderson Hotel, which may or may not be a form of rehab.

The Mirror says her arm is covered in bandages. There is blood seeping from a large gash on her knee. Her shoes are blood-stained. Her mascara has run down her face.

To her side is her husband Blake. His face is scratched. The Mirror says the lines appear to form the letter ‘A’ on her cheeks.

The paper hears that earlier the night, Blake had been ruining down Regents Street (his job is given as a “video runner”) asking random people if they had seen his wife.

They have. She’s been all over the papers on account of her drugs and her drink and her rehab. Now she’s all over the papers on account of her blood and her non-waterproof mascara.

If they haven’t, perhaps Blake could take their numbers and email addresses and put them on the Winehouse mailing list.

The Suns says Winehouse is “blood-soaked and battered”. Her wounds are the result of a “brawl”. The Mail says Winehouse has had a “fight with her husband”.

But the Mirror looks deeper. It hears “friends of Blake” says he is “obsessed” with self-mutilation. He hosts “’self-harming parties’ where he shares drugs with fellow partygoers before they cut parts of their bodies”.

Winehouse may well nod. A sip of wine always stiffens the resolve before a circumcision – before something or someone is cut off…

Posted: 24th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Calling Rob Styles: Chelsea Fan Accused Of Murdering Liverpool Supporter

ROB Styles has much to answer for.

Football arouses deep passions. And, as the Mirror reports, when referee Styles wrongly awarded a penalty in Liverpool’s home game against Chelsea he caused upset.

It is alleged that Chelsea supporter Mark Anderson and Liverpool fan William McClatchey became embroiled in a heated debate.

Was it a penalty? One thing is said to have turned to another and Anderson is due to appear in court charged with killing McClatchey and dumping his hacked-to-pieces body in two wheelie bins.

Rob Styles is suspended from duties…

Points For Styles: Chelsea Dives And Abramovich Drives

Posted: 23rd, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Points For Styles: Chelsea Dives And Abramovich Drives

styles.jpgDARK deeds suspected in the world of Premier League football as the Sun’s front page zooms in on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich’s driveway.

We look at the asphalt. Our eyes search for bumps and lumps. Is this a clue to what happened to the old Chelsea die hard, less turned on to the delights of black footballers, corporate dining and victory than buried in his butcher’s coat?

Inside and readers are introduced to Rob Styles, a Premier League referee.

It was Styles’ lot to officiate at last weekend’s match between Liverpool FC and Abramovich’s Chelsea.

Liverpool are winning by one goal to nil. And then controversy as Chelsea’s new boy Florent Malouda shows that Chelsea’s decision to train 20,000 leagues under the sea was a wise one. He holds his nose and takes the plunge. The crowd hold theirs. Styles looks. Greg Louganis rises to his feet. Angst. Hope. Penalty!


Says Styles one day later: “In mistakenly awarding a penalty, I accept that I may have affected the result of the match and for that I apologise.”

And now we learn that Styles, a surveyor by trade (and he should check Malouda for signs of rising damp and rot) operates a company hired by Abramovich to lay that aforesaid drive.

A spokesman for the Professional Game Match Officials tells us: “The PGMO investigated this at the time and was entirely satisfied that no conflict of interest existed.”

Mr Styles is available for all manner of contracting work…

Posted: 21st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Casey Batchelor’s Boy: Chelsea Captain John Terry’s No Kiss ‘N’ Tell

casey-batchelor-3.jpgIN “A Casey of Blues for John”, the Star on Sunday shines a neon light on Casey Batchelor, “one striker England captain John Terry FAILED to get his hands on.”

Readers learn that “Terry tackled the busty beauty when they locked eyes in London celebrity haunt Embassy.”

It was studs up as Terry checks Casey out. Casey, 22 tells us: “I could see him staring at me from across the club.

“He looked like a handsome guy but I just wasn’t interested.

“Then he walked over and started to try and make conversation.

“I made some attempts to chat back but he quickly got the message. He admitted defeat and wandered off.

“That’s when the friend I was with said, ‘Don’t you know who that is? That’s John Terry, one of Britain’s biggest footballers’.

“I had no idea and I still didn’t care who he was.

“But he must have been stunned that a girl had knocked him back. I later saw loads of girls around him trying to get him to notice them.”

Casey does not care. And she is happy to tell the Star how little she cares and that she did not succumb to Terry’s tackle.

And her testimony makes us wonder if a kiss ‘n’ tell is a kiss ‘n’ tell if there is no kissing and only telling? Does flirting constitute a kiss? And what does it mean for men who go to lapdancing clubs and the dancers?

Posted: 19th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Roy Keane Turns On The Wag Trade

handbag-roy-keane.jpg“KEANE turns fire on the WAGs,” says the Times.

Roy Keane, gum-chewing manager of Sunderland FC, former volcanic captain of Manchester United and World Cup dog walker, has issued a “withering attack” (“scathing attack” in the Mail) on the WAG culture.

Says Roy of the Rant and Ravers: “Priorities have changed for footballers and they are being dictated to by their wives and girlfriends.”

Being a footballer’s wife/lover/teenage temptress is, as one commentator put it, no “merry go-round of hermaphrodite babies and having your breasts set on fire that the (now defunct) TV series might have led you to believe”.

It’s all about positioning yourself for the best spray tan and shopping. What Matt Busby did for Manchester United, ITV’S WAGS Boutique did for London clubs, ensuring that WAGS would prefer to go shopping in the capital than in Wigan, Middlesbrough or Keane’s Sunderland.

Says Keane: “I find it surprising that geography seems to play such a big part, or that players let their wives decide. I think it’s weak.”

Keane names no names. And as Nikki reads of Beckham in Los Angeles and wonders what her man would be worth in that glitzy inflated market if he actually kicked a ball, Roy raves.

“Retire at 35 or 36, if you can live where you bloody well like – London, Monaco, wherever – any half-decent footballer will be a multi-millionaire anyway.” Or any Leeds United player, for that matter.

“Why is there such a big attraction with London? It would be different if it was Chelsea, Arsenal or maybe Tottenham, but they go a smaller club just because it’s in London, then it’s clearly because of the shops,” says Roy.

London United 

It might be because of the museums, the culture and the bigger clubs like The Embassy and Chinawhite, where Mrs Kickaball can rub orangey shoulders with any number of glamour model’s, soap starlets and paparazzo.

But London is not all. The Times says the North East has a “plethora of designer shops, and some of Britain’s most spectacular coastline”. Are you listening Armani?

The writer looks at wild-eyed Roy and goes on: “While Durham – Keane, Theresa, his wife, and their family live close by – boasts a centre of learning and architectural beauty”.

That alright, Roy? Is it o-okay?

Still listening, Armani. Your footballer can play for Sunderland. You can wear your designer frocks as your clamber over the rocks and visit Monkwearmouth Station Museum, Penshaw Monument and catch the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Sunderland Empire.

Glory days…

Posted: 15th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Premier League Drugs: Scoring At Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool And Chelsea

fans8.jpgTHE Premier League season kicks off this weekend. At last. It’s been almost an entire fortnight since the last season finished.

Reports are that some Manchester United supporters have yet to make it home from the Cup Final, what with delays on the Tube.

But here come the new season to excite, exhilarate and amazzzzze…

But be warned, gentle football fan. As the Express reports: “Exposed: The cocaine culture at the heart of British football.”

A ball has not been kicked and already the whiff of scandal is getting up the nose of the national game.

Sure Tour de France cyclists cheat, forgetting that the blood they supply for testing has to be their own, and athletes run on fuel injections, but it is football that leads the way in scandal.

And here is the tale of drugs. The Express says Class A drugs are “routinely taken during games at ‘family friendly’ stadiums”.

The Express has found traces of white powder in the toilets at football grounds. Traces of drugs have been found at Old Trafford and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

The Express says this inquiry is “bound to worry parents”. Indeed, having lashed out for new kits and official boots for junior, the young impressionable football fan will be wanting an official Arsenal cocaine straw and a Theatre of Dreams mirror.

But reading on we get the news that it is not the players who are abusing substances but the fans.

John Williams, director of the University of Leicester’s Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, says: “Some fans drink to add to the feeling of excitement. But a lot of people use other types of drugs for the same reasons.”

While we can speculate on what drugs would suit which team – Spurs (tin pot), Arsenal (jellies), Bolton (party poppers) and Blackburn (GHB) – the Express highlights the issue.

And makes us wonder how long it will be before the paper unearths a sex scandal among fans and sheds light on a the supporters who take drugs to dull the pain of watching West Ham take on Middlesbrough on a damp Tuesday night.

And paying £40 for the privilege…

Posted: 10th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Baseball Fan Matt Murphy To Make $1Million From Barry Bonds

WHAT an amazing career Barry Bonds has had. Barry who, you ask? Barry Bonds – y’know, the San Francisco Giants baseball legend who went into the record books when he hit his 756th home run on Tuesday.

Britons marked this great American sporting moment just as they do when the Superbowl is on, by watching Coronation Street and mowing the lawn.

Over there, this is huge news. It’s bigger than Beckham.

And while Bonds became the first player to hit more than 755 home runs, the fan who caught the ball, 22-year-old Mets fan Matt Murphy, should end up with a small fortune in his hands.

New York-born Murphy was visiting San Francisco en route to Australia when he decided, at the last minute, to attend the game between the Giants and the Washington Nationals.

Bonds hit the ball. And after a massive scrum, which left Murphy bruised and bloodied, he emerged with the record-breaking ball. And according to memorabilia experts, Murphy could make up to $1million by auctioning it off.

However, with rumours persisting about Bonds’ alleged use of banned drugs to boost his performance, items belonging to the star have previously gone for below the expected price.

Wonder what price the ball with which David Beckham scores his first goal in the MLS will go for?

Or for the ball Becks struck from the penalty spot in Euro 2008. Catch it if you dare…

Posted: 9th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Manchester United Watch David Beckham’s Boy

victoria-beckham-la.jpg“RACE to sign Becks’ lad Brooklyn.”

So says the Star. And there is Brooklyn Beckham playing football. “Premeirship scouts are scrambling to sign-up soccer wonderkid Brooklyn Beckham,” says the paper.

“His head is up,” says the Star, “which will help with his balance.” And his poses to camera.

The Star says Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs are watching Brooklyn’s every move. The rest of us are watching his mom.

And with Pop Beckham warming the bench in Los Angeles, we say get Brooklyn on the pitch before the fans grow restless.

Any Beckham will do…

Pic: 14

Experience Day-vid’s career in LA so far here…

Posted: 8th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Mr Malik: Another Bob Woolmer Correction

Mr Malik contacted the police on his return to the UK and was not required for interview in the matter of the death of Bob Woolmer. We are happy to confirm that Mr Malik was not named or sought by the police as a suspect in the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer.

Notes the Mirror:  “Jamaican police were interviewing cricket fans who had been seen in the hotel where the Pakistan team were staying in order to assist them with their enquiries. Mr Malik is a cricket supporter but was not helping the Pakistan cricket team.

“Mr Malik contacted the police on his return to the UK and was not required for interview. We are happy to confirm that Mr Malik was not named or sought by the police as a suspect in the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer.”

Posted: 6th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Women’s Open Golf: Sophie Sandalo Is Less R&A Than T&A

sophie-sandalo-golf.jpgWONDER what Graham Brown, a member of golf’s Royal & Ancient rules committee, makes of the British Women’s Open at St Andrews?

Brown’s speech at the Association of Golf Writers’ annual dinner in the R&A tent at Carnoustie featured jokes about “Nips” and “all Japanese looking the same”, a tale of a black taxi driver delivered in a Deep South accent and a story about two disabled golfers.

He did never mention women. Although his speech did follow a toast proposed by the former BBC golf correspondent Tony Adamson which included a joke about a player punching his wife in the mouth.

These insights into life in the golf club was followed by a few words from Martin Kippax, the chairman of the R&A’s championship committee who added: “Graham Brown is a very good golfer; he’s a very knowledgeable individual with regards to the rules of golf.”

So that’s all right then. If only Saddam Hussein had had a decent swing and Hitler played off four.

And now the Women’s Open is getting underway. But the Mail says these doyennes of the greens are not dressed in Comfi-Slax, sensible shoes and Y-fronts. Not all of them.

The Mail has looked over the agonists’ calendars. (What else do you do in August when they are offered at a discount?)

Writes Sophie Sandalo: “My first sexy calendar is intended to represent my love for golf, my desire for freedom and a touch of coquetry, and I am instinctively attracted by fashion, elegance and glamour.”

Ms Sandalo is teeing off in black stockings, matching basque and a pair of black wings. Her shoes are heeled and liable to pit the greens.

She will be taking on Natalie Gulbis. She is clad in a white bikini. She is blonde and plays off sand on a sun-kissed beach.

This is what female golfers look like. This is the new stereotype. Less G & T than T & A…

Game on…

Posted: 2nd, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand’s Moment Of Clarity

MANCHESTER United’s over-rated “ball-playing” centre-half Rio Ferdinand is apparently having a crisis of conscience.

The 28-year-old defender has admitted that he’s not worth the massive £29million price tag United were forced to cough up to take him from Leeds United.

“I don’t think anyone is worth that kind of money”, he says.

But will he start handing back a sizeable chunk of his £100,000 a week wage? One imagines not.

Posted: 1st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Bench It Like Beckham: LA Galaxy Career in Pictures

david-beckham-la-galaxy.jpgDAVID Beckham is in Los Angeles. Some news to those of you wondering what he and his family are up to.

They are, all told, doing alright over there.

David hasn’t been playing much football but he and his wife have been to parties and worn all sorts of clothes. Encouraging stuff.

But what of the new fans -the Beckhamites- the heathen whom David will turn to the beautiful game? Here they are…

He exfoliates..!


He bronzes..!


He waxes..!


Posted: 1st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Couching Desire: Oprah Winfrey ‘In Love’ With Barack Obama

oprahbarack1.jpg“OPRAH Winfrey has fallen in love with married presidential hopeful Barack Obama.”

No small headline from the National Enquirer. Readers learn that Winfrey is “gaga” over Obama. She is “smitten”. She’s “behaving like a high schooler with a crush”.

“She’s energized again and glows at the mention of him – she’s acting like a love struck girl,” says an insider.

And into the anodyne world of US politics, where sex is less a thing to enjoy than explain and define, the country’s biggest TV star makes for the rising political tyro.

What a force they could be, he with his politics, she with her show. If they could work in a book club and a range of salad dressings what force could stop them?

And then we read of Michelle. She is Obama’s wife. Oprah has had her on her show. Michelle appeared with her husband, the two women with the man they both admire.

Says one voice: “She practically drooled while interviewing him, then plastered on a ‘fake’ smile when his wife came out.”

The Enquirer has a picture of this wife. She looks tall. She looks slim. But has she appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Does she share a couch with Dr Phil? Has she hosted the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Concert with Tom Cruise, featuring musical performances by Cyndi Lauper and Tony Bennett?

“Tell us about your TV career, Michelle?”; “What about your nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Michelle?”; “Do you have your own magazine, Michelle?”

And Michelle just looks. And she looks thin.

A source notes: “Oprah has made a point of including her in their public meetings, but she has shown a few signs that she’d much rather not have Michelle around.”

 Purple Heart

But this is Oprah. And Oprah knows pain. As the Enquirer tells us, one of her golden retriever puppies, Gracie is no longer of this world.

“I hugged them all goodbye, leaving lipstick on Gracie’s furry white forehead, where she loved getting kisses,” says Oprah in her magazine.

Gracie found a small ball. It went in her mouth…

“I ran out of the house and found the dog walker and a security guard pumping her chest.” She was gone. “I stood there dazed, stunned, crying – and watched as they placed her in the back of a golf cart. Her still-warm body with the lipstick stain on her fur.”

Now do you see the woman, Barack? Now do you see the heart of a women, Barack? Now do you see the puppy in the back of the golf cart with a smear of lipstick on its forehead, barrack.”

Or do you only see slim thighs? Slim hips? Slim arms? And a First Lady with raw ambition in a halter neck dress..?

Posted: 1st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Manchester United Go In Studs Up On Mother Nature

4×4.jpg“MANCHESTER United aces get bigger spaces,” says the Sun.

This on top of the news that Michael Carrick, Man Yoo’s midfield stroller has spent £10,000 on getting his teeth fixed.

If Brand Carrick is to sell calendars, energy drinks and Comfi-Slax he needs to sort out his image. First the teeth, next the sack, crack and back, the skin tones and then the personal history, featuring bullying, substance abuse and reality TV.

But first the teeth. They will set Carrick on the path to fame. They will get him bigger smile. And a bigger car.

As the Sun reports, the epicentre of global warming is Manchester United’s Carrington training ground. So big are the players’ cars that the old-style parking spaces are being made larger.

The Sun makes mention of Wayne Rooney’s £70,000 Hummer H2, a massive vehicle that goes in studs up on Mother Nature, smashing a carbon footprint into her groin.

And the changing rooms are also being revamped to keep in step with the players’ demands, making room for their manbags.

Now the goalkeeper’s bag, the one he carries onto the pitch, contains MAC mineralize skinfinish (natural), Decleor Aromessence Rose D’Orient Oil (15ml) and Kanebo Sensai Ex La Lotion.

And spare teeth…

Posted: 30th, July 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Iraq Wins Asia Cup: 4 Dead And 17 Wounded

united-iraq.jpg“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting” – George Orwell.

IRAQ has won the Asia Cup.

It’s the Times’ lead picture story. Readers see the No. 7 bus to Acton stopped behind a crowd of flag-wavers.

“The safest place for an Iraqi to celebrate cup win: London,” says the caption.

This might be right. Although the football fans had best watch out for that bus and London-based Saudi Arabia fans hellbent on football aggro.

The Times surveys the scene at one end of London’s Edgware Road. There is “pandemonium” near Hyde Park. Car horns. Bongos. Chants. Yells. The every day made more intense.

“This is like a gift to the Iraqi people,” says Zaid Kadhum, 26. “We are so happy. After we won the semi-final, there was that car bomb and so many people died. There are people who just don’t want us to be happy.”

soldierscelebrate.jpgThis is London.

It is not Iraq. It is not the Independent’s front page: “Iraq: the human tide”.

The picture there is of a boy lying on a beach. He could be resting. But the story is of people on the move.

“Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighbouring countries. Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War.”

Could any Iraqi hear of the scenes in London and not dream of escape?

But there is the football to delight. Says the Indy:

“Here was a team made up of Iraqis of all religious persuasions and ethnic hues at a time when the country hovers on the brink of civil war. Here was a team where every player had lost family or friends in the four years of internal strife. Yet, starting as the ninth-ranked team in Asia, the Iraqis steadily played their way up the order, beating the favourites, Saudi Arabia, 1-0 to win.”

In sporting terms alone Iraq’s victory is a story of odds-defying success. “Iraq united by football glory,” says the Telegraph’s front page.

No talk of London. But in Iraq: “The bursts of gunfire – a traditional method of celebration also used at weddings – was reported to have killed at least four people and wounded 17.”

And on the pitch, for a moment, Sunnis, Shias and Kurds in one kit celebrate success…

Posted: 30th, July 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Yours For A Tenner: Cheeky Girls, Another Level, Steps, S Club, 911 and Five

cheeky-girls-lembit.jpgTHERE’S something inherently satisfying about seeing former pop stars reduced to faded has-beens. Yet while we, with our (mostly) boring and predictable lives sneer on, wouldn’t it have been better to be a one-hit wonder than a no-hit wonder?

Still, let’s enjoy our sneers when we can. And when the Sun finds former stars from the Cheeky Girls, Another Level, Steps, S Club, 911 and Five in a Milton Keynes shopping mall selling autographs for a tenner, it’s hard not to smile.

Promoted by MusicMania Live, the event promised “the incredible buzz of getting to know your favourite music idols from the last three decades”. However the Centre:mk shopping precinct bore witness to an embarrassing glimpse at what happens when the teenyboppers move onto the next big (or even middling) thing.

For £145, members of the public could have their photo taken with the likes of Another Level’s Dane Bowers, S Club’s Bradley McIntosh and Steps’ Ian ‘H’ Watkins.

Autographs would cost an extra tenner each, bringing the total cost to £290 for those who really wanted the full, star-studded, glamorous package.

According to the Sun, a dismal total of around 100 punters turned up during the day, leaving the former fleeting pop stars plenty of time and silence to ponder their next move to get back into the big time – Celebrity Big Brother? Shag Pete Doherty? Marry an MP?

I wonder how much a Lembit Opik autograph would cost?

Posted: 30th, July 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

David Beckham And Tom As They Were In Los Angeles

victoria-beckham-katiie.jpgDAVID Beckham has not lost it.

Little has been heard of the former England captain since his retirement from football (rumour is he plays soccer now), but the Sun tracks him down to the back of a sports centre in Los Angeles. Who knew?

Journeyed Beckham watchers will recall the former footballer making similar appearances in the stands for long periods of his Real Madrid career.

You will, doubtless, remember that vision of Beckham adopting such a pose in the company of Tom Cruise, the American actor.

Wind the clock on and Becks is with actor Tom once more. But not Tom Cruise, rather Tom Watt, former EastEnders barman and professional Arsenal supporter. Watt now covers football for BBC Radio London, fronting the phone-in show that routinely features the conversation:

Watt: Who do you support?
Caller: Crystal Palace
Watt: Good for you. Next caller…

Sun readers could see this tableau of Beckham with Watt, Brooklyn Beckham and Everton FC’s Phil Neville and deduce that Beckham has become old hat, yesterday’s news in the City of dreams and stars.

Can it be? The Mirror wonders what LA women think of Posh and Becks. “Victoria is too thin… even by LA standards,” says a 30-year-old account manager. “She needs to watch out for David’s groupies,” says a 34-year-old blonde. “Didn’t he used to be David Beckham?” says another?

Her Poshness responds by wearing a top bearing the legend “Show me the money”. The Sun says it’s a line from the film Jerry McGuire, starring Tom Cruise.

But we can’t be certain. And in any case, as the Sun notes, LA Galaxy have just scored a goal. David looks less pleased than amazed. It’s LA Galaxy 2, Pachuca of Mexico 1.

And David Beckham can says he was there to see it all…

Posted: 26th, July 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich And Rolling Stones

RUSSIAN oligarch and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has decided to build a live music venue underneath Stamford Bridge, all for a cool £7million.

The venue will only hold 400 to 500 people and will not be open to the public.

The Rolling Stones are rumoured to be pencilled in for a spectacular Christmas launch. Looks like the billionaire is getting tired of football.

And with Chelsea hardly the most attractive side in the world, who can blame him?

Posted: 25th, July 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)