Keith Skipper: Here's my hopes for 2018

PUBLISHED: 08:29 30 December 2017

Oscar Wilde would have a thing or two to say about today's mediocrities, says Keith Skipper. Picture: PA Photos.

Oscar Wilde would have a thing or two to say about today's mediocrities, says Keith Skipper. Picture: PA Photos.


Keith Skipper reveals what he’s like to see happen in 2018.

I see no point wasting time making resolutions bound to go in one year and out the other. It has to be much more fun lining up fences for the rest of earnest mankind to trip over.

This grand steeplechase of doomed promises begins with an overdose of bravado at the end of The Great Season of Too Much. January is named after Janus, Roman god of gates and beginnings. He would have made a top referee in the Coliseum Premier League with that handy knack to look both ways at once.

Now, we have to be content with the old Norfolk trick of looking backward and forward at the same time as working out what’s going on at present, especially as a new year whirrs into action and brighter souls accept it as a perfect chance to practise giving up things for Lent.

Relish for so delicate a balancing act as weighing up fore and aft in one dazzling movement may be best captured in a cheerful rustic invitation like “There’s a good dew down the pub ternite – are yew a’gorn ter come?”

Norfolk experts, well versed in treating the unorthodox as commonplace, can manager both together without breaking sweat, let alone damaging a limb, as they march confidently alongside the old adage that if you know roughly where you’ve been you’ll have a shrewd idea where you might be going.

Unless you’re a parish, town, district, city or county councillor unable to spot the difference between a golf course and a building site in the first place. Most local MPs are just as confused.

Perhaps it’s becoming too easy to set up certain characters for inevitable falls. We know football managers and politicians will carry on refuting the downright obvious while so-called celebrities wallow in fresh vats of banality. Television chiefs will deny they are dumbing down even as more programmes go positively subterranean.

The most cursory backward glance shows it need not always be like that. I recall healthy little bursts of self-denigration lighting up the sporting scene during my full-time years of trying to make sense of it all.

Halifax manager John McGrath stunned a post-match gathering of hardened soccer scribes with his own question-and-answer session: “Do you know the three most used words in football? Halifax Town nil!”

Airdrie boss Alex MacDonald wasn’t far behind with this staggeringly blunt excuse after his team’s defeat: “We ended up playing football, and that doesn’t suit our style”.

Former Australian cricketer Arthur Mailey, leg-spinner, journalist and butcher, scored an impressive hat-trick when he admitted: “I used to bowl tripe. Then I wrote it. Now I sell it”.

Politicians have never worked too hard for laughs at their own expense. George W Bush summed it up rather neatly when he suggested: “I think the voters misunderestimate me”.

Oscar Wilde clearly foresaw the merciless rise of the “celebrity” clan when he warned a room packed with arty hangers-on: “To be popular one must be a mediocrity”. He might have said “Appreciate me now and miss the rush” but there’s no semblance of wit or irony in the current clamour to be noticed for doing something stupid.

So where to look for sunny solace from sportsmen, politicians and thousands of also-rans in the race for attention during the next 12 months? The odd concession to humour and self-mockery will help.

I’m waiting eagerly for one of our MPs to completely disarm pomposity-prone Speaker Bercow in the House with a Stanley Unwin impression and a burst of Basil Brush laughter. Or a Roy Orbison growl, a Mae West wink and Ken Dodd’s tickling stick.

I’m praying fervently for Jose Mourinho to say the referee had a splendid game following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Norwich City in an FA Cup clash at Old Trafford – “although the fourth penalty may have been a shade harsh”.

I’m anticipating excitedly a call from Norfolk County Council to indicate plans for a new drawbridge at Thetford will be given all-party support “so long as unhinged elements can be kept in check”. They will piece it together with council tacks.

I’m suggesting seriously that the next fellow-passenger on the Bittern Line who exclaims “I’m on the train!” should be ejected at the forthcoming stop with full instructions on how to extract a mobile phone from a tight space and a bus timetable for the Outer Hebrides.

Roll on 2018!

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