The RGSOAS Review of 2013

2013 will forever be remembered as the year that immediately preceded 2014. Memories of this year will be taken to the graves of those who died during it. But what about the rest of us? As we discard the inconsequential riff-raff, allow Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed to select the most enduring moments of the year, to be forever sealed within the amber of our collective consciousness, one day to be used to make some sort of crazy dinosaur theme park.

* Luis Suarez finally realised he’s a terrible man after a perspective-altering cancer scare, when mistaking a drumstick lolly he had left in his trouser pocket for a tumour. He sought to make amends for past sins by constantly eating at Nando’s and offering his ready-stamped loyalty cards to strangers. He owes his successes on the field this season to the surfeit of energy gained by eating peri-peri coleslaw each day.

Totally benign

Totally benign

* Bank manager face template and passing fetishist Xavi pursued a bizarre sideline as a noir detective in Xavi: Possession Cop. With Barcelona finally ceding their prestigious spot as everyone’s favourite football team, their midfield metronome changed careers in stylish fashion, devoting himself to romancing broads, lamenting his past mistakes and inscrutably fiddling with blinds in darkened rooms while sippin’ whiskey.

All possession. All cop.

All possession. All cop.

* A ball boy ended up in the news for failing to do his job. Eden Hazard’s poor attempt at Eric Cantona-style notoriety saw the Chelsea Belgian tamely toe-poke Swansea’s top Ball Circulation Operative, Charlie Morgan. The football world reacted with approximately 70% outrage and 30% amusement, otherwise known as ‘The Michael McIntrye Ratio’. The incident saw the dreadfully inept teen thrust ungainly into the world of minor celebrity, as lucrative offers of television work came his way. He was last seen being ejected from a branch of TK Maxx, for failing to return a Christmas gift properly.

Silly sausage

Silly sausage

* West Ham manager Sam Allardyce attempted to gloss over his club’s lack of strikers by singing the songs of A-Ha in a surprise concert. The rotund beast caused controversy during his Upton Park gig by not playing Take On Me. The shock omission served as adequate distraction, but ultimately caused unrest among supporters who love 80s nostalgia just as much as they love their dear ol’ mums.

Stupid man

Stupid man

* RGSOAS caused a stir by rooting through the bins of cuboid-headed spokesbloke Adrian Chiles, and discovered a notebook containing a collection of his horrible punchlines.

Unwarranted thumbs-up

Unwarranted thumbs-up

* Documentary film The Class of 92 offered some startling insights into the legendary batch of child prodigies that effectively kept Alex Ferguson and his wife in horse racing and dildos. Manchester United’s celebrated youth team told their stories armed with a montage of the 1990’s, which inevitably featured the two clips that every such 90’s montage always features – Noel Gallagher schmoozing at Downing Street and Tony Blair playing head tennis with Kevin Keegan. The film received glowing reviews, with the revelation that forgotten man Terry Cooke was actually one child sitting on the shoulders of another child all along stunning critics. However, most of the attention was attracted by the twist ending, which saw Nicky Butt ruthlessly massacre Eric Harrison’s extended family before turning the gun on himself, prompting Pele to demote him to his second favourite player of all time.

Senseless massacre

Senseless massacre

* Barry Plapp finally broke his silence on the role he plays in maintaining the posthumous legend of Brian Clough. In a revealing interview, he told Fisted Away how Clough’s widow Barbara pays him to devise fresh anecdotes about the formerly-witty, now-dead football management personality.

Nobody ever says fuck you.

Nobody ever says fuck you.

* The twin worlds of football and Guy Ritchie films were saddened to hear of the news that Vinnie Jones had developed cancer. However, in another shocking career reinvention, Jones was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for finding a cure for the notorious illness and reason for 60% of charity fun runs. In his disturbingly graphic acceptance speech, he revealed that he “simply squeezed the very bollocks” of the dastardly Nan-thief. It is not yet known whether his discovery will earn him a place in the celebrity section of WWE’s next Hall of Fame.

Jones gets sent off at WWF Capital Carnage. Not even a joke.

Jones gets sent off at WWF Capital Carnage. Not even a joke.

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The Punchlines of Adrian Chiles

Adrian Chiles is a television personality par excellence. It is well known that he cannot be beaten in terms of quality, value or smell, but he also boasts a magical sense of humour. He is such a jovial man that he has been known to bring smiles to the faces of people who have suffered bereavements only minutes previously; his personal best is making someone titter politely within seven minutes of becoming a widow.

Chiles

Chiles is the not-insubstantial face of ITV, and when his vast skull isn’t being used as a storage facility for Ant and Dec’s wardrobe, he uses his brain to think of magnificent jokes to make a nation laugh. His creativity knows no bounds, and he frequently fills up notebooks with punchlines ready for use at peak ‘Chiles-time’; this is the industry term coined for those periods either side of an ad break, when he says something hilarious over clips of Theo Walcott shooting tamely wide, and begs people not to stop being interested in football.

Of course, no genius is without his flaws. For all the punchlines he creates, he can rarely come up with set-ups to accompany them, and feeds them to a team of producers to try and make them work for him. After a controversial mugging incident, Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed has obtained a notepad, featuring a small but superb clutch of half-quips that will soon delight you all. Each one is augmented with an exclamation mark, which Chiles deploys to signify his trademark inflection of avuncular whimsy. Read them, cherish them and imagine how they may one day take flight in your grandest dreams to finally make your life whole.

* It wasn’t the first time he would’ve been caught offside!

* I thought you said ‘onion bag’!

* Not until the next transfer window at any rate!

* It’s not even the worst thing about being on the bench!

* That’s not what he said in his programme notes!

* Well, that’s a referee’s assistant for you!

* In the end, it was the agent that left with all the turnips!

* And THAT’S why they call me the Jake of Snake of chocolate cake!

* Wes Brown can’t even spell hysterectomy, much less perform one!

* If it looks like an acorn and tastes like an acorn, it probably is an acorn!

* His wife was dead the whole time!

* Don’t mind if I poo!

* Slow and steady wins the teddy!

* Schmeep!

Adrian Chiles

You may remember me from such RGSOAS classics as ‘Adrian Chiles: Improv Workshop Gobshite’

Adrian Chiles: Improv Workshop Gobshite

Ignore, if you can, everything to do with the actual event of the England/Poland football match, and what remains is hours of washed out ITV coverage. It seems that nothing good came from watching Adrian Chiles fill Tuesday night’s suddenly evacuated broadcast. The much-maligned anchorman is now unmoveable in his prescribed role of overpaid totem standing in stout monument to the lowest common denominator.

Memorably described by the comedian Stewart Lee as “a speaking toby jug filled to the brim with hot piss”, the truth is any given Twitter search for his name will throw up barbs of similar derision. Last night offered some explanation as to why – his floundering when removed from his comfort zone, his desperately avuncular reliance on comical prompts, his easily cracked veneer of professionalism when presented with a challenge.

Intermittent complaints about how the rain delay was affecting even those in the studio (Lee Dixon had only bought one suit! Had anyone thought to book hotel rooms for an extra night?!) were bought to a merciful end when the game was finally postponed. Chiles closed by paying tribute to his pundits for guiding him safely through the plane crash, thanking the tri-headed Wilson to his Chuck Noland – Dixon, Gareth Southgate and Roy Keane.

The lads

Dixon has perhaps been unfairly tainted with the smear of the same brush that coats Alan Shearer with a kind of manky vanilla. The former Arsenal full-back (famous, of course, for once letting Gaby Roslin cut his hair live on The Big Breakfast) defected from the BBC, one suspects, after the emergence of this footage, in which Dixon seemed to deplore either the interruption of Shearer, or the questioning of Gary Lineker.

Meanwhile, Southgate’s presence is a stabilising one, with a style loosely based on the notion of basic admin. He’s the man that pulls together the strands of debate in a manner suited to his intelligent and assured oratory abilities. He’s capable of looking at the broader picture too, showing a certain awareness as when he lamented the dearth of information relayed to the increasingly bored spectators stranded in the stadium.

But Roy Keane was the star of this non-show, bringing his inimitable brand of scabrous perception and scarcely concealed self-loathing. Though Ronan Keating once sang of his wife and/or dead mother that ‘you say it best when you say nothing at all’, he could just as well direct the same lachrymose balladeering to Keane. It makes for truly compelling television as he inwardly wrestles with his wavering self-respect, pretending to tolerate the frantic joking spread like caulk into last night’s ever-widening gaps.

This orangey paint effect diminishes not the incandescence of the fury in mine eyes.

He doesn’t want to be there, not really, and it’s written all over his face, clogged as it is already with the twin implications of rage and impatience. At one point everyone laughed at the Irishman’s joke about Gary Neville’s proclivity for whingeing. Keane, naturally, afforded himself no such privilege, burying the momentarily lapse in gravitas beneath further condemnation of the Polish FA’s slack roof-opening policy. He is not there for fun but to take things very seriously indeed, which is obviously what makes him so much fun.

Keane has admitted that he sees no future in television work, and views it as a stop-gap while he awaits the next opportunity in a curiously stalled management career. Perhaps this sense of transience is what makes him comfortable in doling out criticism, as with last night’s comments on Joe Hart. Rather than toeing the party line and following the VT-led pre-match narrative of ‘Hart – England’s new Shilton’, Keane raised the point that the young ‘keeper’s sense of bravado could perhaps border on arrogance, which in turn could be the reason behind recent mistakes. He likened him to Peter Schmeichel, who Keane admitted was “not very good technically”, and accused the Dane of similar spells of complacency throughout his career because he “thought he was the bees knees”.

He would qualify his comments on Hart by insisting that he didn’t “want to be seen as being too harsh on the boy”, stating that he was clearly a great player who simply needed to react positively to negative spells. But by offering such contrary opinion, and by freely mentioning specific details of his former team-mates, he was doing something just a little bit different. In punditry terms, perhaps this is a case of Keane also being “not very good technically”, by offering something a little more corrosive than the usual brand of bland antiseptic propagated by someone such as Shearer.

Keane could do worse than consider where he offers greater merit now – as a manager or as a television personality. As much as such introspection might gall a man of such fierce pride, Keane is a formidable and compelling presence on television, just as he was as a player, and that is a rare gift. Something that his befuddled anchorman sadly lacks.