MY ONE-MAN campaign to draw the public’s attention to the plain silly and sometimes downright bonkers language used to report on Six Nations rugby union matches has to go on.
When I saw a headline in a national newspaper this week which said “Cultural revolutionaries able to rewrite the script” I thought it was some kind of editorial glitch which had resulted in a piece of arts commentary finding its way onto the sports pages.
I quickly realised I was wrong, and it was another disturbing example of “Twickersitis”, a strange and irresistible compulsion which causes otherwise normal and balanced journalists to write hyperbolic waffle about tedious rugby matches.
The symptoms follow a clear and well established pattern. First, a journalist watches a Six Nations rugby match, Second, he manifests no obvious signs of any loosening of his grip on reality until he opens his laptop.
Next, he then begins to write a feverish report of the game which bears no resemblance to what happened on the field.
He then goes into a frenzy of exaggeration during which he insists on emptying the contents of Roget’s Thesaurus into his article, leaving no overblown phrase or inappropriate metaphor unused. Fifth, he then goes into what students of this trauma sometimes called “Terminal Twickersitis” (or the TTs for short) during which he loses all self-respect and is often unable, for prolonged periods, to distinguish fast, open exciting games from unwatchable dross.
Most of the reporting of the England-France and Scotland-Ireland games of last weekend demonstrated remarkably high levels of the TTs.
The gap between what one saw on the field and what was subsequently reported in the papers was not a question of subtly-nuanced interpretation, but was rather like reading a review of a restaurant which promised culinary delights of breathtaking quality when you know that the best dish on the menu was last night’s tripe.