Morrisey once sang ‘There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more’ (mind you, in the same song he also sings ‘Let me get my hands on your mammary glands’, so I’m not sure he can be fully trusted as a font of wisdom, imagine using that as a chat up line for instance). But when he sang that line in ‘You Handsome Devil’ I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of the millions of turgid and banal Footballers autobiographies currently clogging the shelves of your local Waterstones. Going back to the despicable and ultimately pointless looting in the UK that happened last week, I made the point that the looters left Waterstones untouched because of their ignorance of the importance and value of books, but maybe it wasn’t because of this, maybe it was because they had once been paralysed with boredom after reading ‘David Beckham – my side’ and were now terrified at the sight of words written on a page.
Theo Walcott’s ‘Growing Up Fast’ is the latest in the long line of football biographies. If you don’t know, Theo Walcott is a 22 year old England and Arsenal Footballer and his book is currently being serialised in The Sun newspaper. Here is an unintentionally hilarious snippet I read yesterday, just for reference, Mr Capello is the current manager of England, renowned for his iron discipline and to set the scene, the England team are on an outing to the Golf course. Take it away Theo:
I got Dad to bring my clubs and because there's a very strict food regime under Mr Capello I was really craving some crisps, just something different from the rather bland food we're allowed to eat, so I told Dad to bring me a snack.
He brought Pringles but as he was lifting my clubs out of his boot I noticed with horror that Mr Capello was watching everyone like a hawk. Dad was about to hand me the Pringles but realised just in time that it would be a serious error and put them back in the boot as nonchalantly as he could.
The food we're officially allowed is OK, it just gets a bit boring. So during the build-up to one match some of us snuck in some Nando's on the quiet.
That was a seriously nerve-racking episode. Everybody kept expecting Mr Capello to burst out of the shadows as the players were eating their food.
Now, I know what you’re thinking after reading that, you’re thinking ‘Oh, the trials and tribulations of the professional footballer, why must these obscenely overpaid unfortunate souls be denied what the rest of us take for granted, can’t they eat their Nando’s in peace without fear of reprisal? Why is the world so unfair? WHY? WHY?
The rest of the book undoubtedly holds even more heart rending depictions of Theo’s life thus far, the time he licked a KFC crispy strip in defiance of his personal trainer, the time he almost ate a piece of beer battered cod, and the legendary occasion he took a small sip of low alcohol lager right under the nose of England manager Fabio Capello
But let’s not make this just about Theo, he seems like a nice chap, and has kept his nose clean compared to some Footballers, his is just an example of the hundreds of books that are written in a similar vein detailing the lives of rich twenty something sporting professional who haven’t really done anything remarkable other than play sport at a high level. It’s not their problem; they’re signed to money spinning book deals by their agents and can only tell the ghost writers what has happened to them, obviously omitting the interesting bits which could sour their public image or career, it’s not their fault they have essentially nothing to say. The question is though, why should a 22 year old man who is famous for running really fast while manoeuvring a spherical piece of air filled leather with his feet be the subject of an autobiography, when there are so many people who have led far more rich and interesting lives out there struggling to get their stories published. Well basically it must be because these books sell well and are in demand, but doesn’t it make you despair at the fate of humanity to think that a man as morally bankrupt and oafish as Wayne Rooney will eventually have more books to his name than John Kennedy O’Toole (writer of the comedic masterpiece ‘Confederacy of Dunces’) and Franz Kafka combined? Well I think it’s depressing. Please let me know if you do, it’s lonely up here on my high horse.