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There was a nasty incident at Grumpy Grange over Christmas.
Mrs.GOS had done a wonderful job with the Christmas dinner. She'd worked her usual magic with the turkey, sticking all sorts of strange mixtures up its bum and squeezing great gobs of butter beneath its skin as recommended by Jamie Oliver (funny thing, that. He doesn't want working class kids to eat turkey twizzlers but thinks it's fine for us middle-class people to gorge ourselves on all manner of fatty substances. It's a class thing, I think).
She'd roasted the potatoes and parsnips. She'd done incredible things with the sprouts, mixing them with chestnuts and pine kernels to disguise the fact that they are basically revolting. There was enough bread sauce to feed an entire African nation for three weeks, those little sausages with bacon wrapped round, and five different kinds of stuffing. There were crackers and candles on the table, enough wine to float The GOS's new boat, and thin little chocolates for afterwards. She'd simmered the Christmas pudding for about a month. By three o'clock in the afternoon, the normal time for Christmas dinner in our neck of the woods, it all looked and smelt fantastic. And what did we do?
We ate it.
How stupid was that? All that work, all the weeks of planning, numerous trips to the shops, orders placed with the butcher six months ahead, the alarm clock set for three in the morning …
… and we just scoffed the lot. How thoughtless.
By all accounts it was a bit like that at the Manchester United party. There was an expensive hotel booked, with bedrooms available upstairs for anyone who fancied a bit of a lie down, a bar where the booze flowed freely, a dance floor, plenty of dark corners for a bit of nookie, hundreds of rather tasty girls laid on …
And what did the Manchester United players and their guests do? They callously, selfishly and with malice aforethought danced, hallooed, got drunk and groped the girls. Really, what dreadful behaviour. What kind of example was that to set the youth of the nation?
Predictably it caused an outburst of indignation - in the press, if not in the minds of the public. In fact, most of the public probably wish they'd been there. It's cause for considerable regret in the heart of The GOS that his invitation seems to have got lost in the post.
And there was some indignation, too, from the girls. They'd got themselves all made-up, their hair minutely coiffured, they'd selected the tiniest dresses they could find, they'd carefully left off their brassières and their drawers - for fear of showing a Visible Panty Line, of course, not for any other reason - and trotted off to this extravagant bash with a load of testosterone-fuelled over-paid athletes in the hope of forging meaningful relationships (even, perhaps, of encountering "the one"), of indulging in lively and witty conversation over a quiet and elegant dinner at which crucial topics - the Middle East peace process, Doris Lessing's deserved Nobel prize, Gordon Brown's calamitous slump in the opinion polls - would be discussed, followed by a convivially riotous game of Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble.
But alas, their hopes were dashed. They had evidently dressed their own particular turkey dinners in quite the wrong style. The evening nose-dived into a riotous orgy of drunken propositions, girls were manhandled in a most ungentlemanly way, one claims she was raped, and there were reports of another 19-year-old taking on five or six men one after another in one of the bedrooms - what the press are pleased to call "roasting", although in The GOS's day it was called "pulling a train" which provided opportunities for all sorts of witty jokes about "loose shunting" and "passengers boarding" etc. What's worse, the silly girl seems to have enjoyed it. The slut.
Middle-class newspaper columnists have presented an unusually united front, proclaiming that these girls who think they are exercising "girl power" are just allowing themselves to be used like pieces of meat. There is widespread condemnation of working-class tarts who undress and throw themselves in the way of wealthy footballers in the hope of snagging one and being transformed, Cinderella-like, into a WAG overnight. One lady writer, the Telegraph's Liz Hunt, even criticised the girls for having "chunky legs". Presumably only girls with slim and sylph-like legs ought to aspire, however foolishly, to alter their own personal circumstances (though take it from one who knows, Ms.Hunt - chunky legs part just as easily and are a lot more comfortable to land on).
Most of us probably don't feel too good about these predatory and skimpily-clad young women and their railway-train imitations. You wouldn't want your daughter to do it, presumably, and you might think twice about marrying or even sleeping with a girls who did. But to criticise their own particular interpretation of "girl power" like this is narrow-minded and pedantic. What do Liz Hunt and the other lady columnists think they should do? Dress modestly, behave demurely, marry a nice boy from down the road, have 2.4 children and then just fade away quietly without offending the rest of us? Where's the power in that, exactly?
The fact is that these girls are flouting "nice" behaviour, they are behaving just as loutishly as their yobbish brothers, they are flying in the face of polite middle-class society. And they're exercising about as much "girl power" as an uneducated girl of limited intellectual accomplishment from an unprivileged working-class background can manage. They are doing what they want to do, whatever the rest of us think, and that's quite powerful in my book.
Not all of Liz Hunt's Telegraph readers were taken in by her pious attitudinising. One wrote "Why shouldn't working class girls have sex with as many footballers as they want? It's their choice isn't it - or is feminism really about privileged women telling everyone else how to live their lives?" while another asked "When it comes to issues like abortion you're all quick to say 'Its the woman's body so she can do what she wants with it'. So why is it you adopt a holier-than-thou approach when young girls decide to do what they want with their bodies in order to gain fame and fortune?"
Another wrote at length and with some eloquence: "The girls have claimed to be less than impressed. Incredibly, they claim to be angry. It was awful, they complained, the players treated us like pieces of meat. We couldn't believe it, etc., etc. Well, no kidding, love? You mean they didn't value you as strong, independent women in a very real sense and engage with you on a cerebral level? Good lord, that must have been truly shocking.
Some of the women, shaking their heads sadly, have complained that the Manchester United players seemed to want only one thing from them. One girl said she was grabbed by the arm and led with amorous intent towards the toilets, the lift to the bedrooms presumably taking ages to arrive. And again, they are aghast. Really? I wonder if they have ever witnessed Rio Ferdinand or Wayne Rooney engage with anything on a cerebral level?
What, exactly, did these ladies think they were there for? We ought to remind ourselves that far from viewing the evening's proceedings with trepidation and feminine reserve, these young women queued around the block to gain admittance to the party. Collared by some meat-headed monosyllabic oaf while they went about their job doling out the Space NK stuff to the public, they cheerfully agreed to attend the party - and must have known what it would entail, what it was for. Why do they think they were thus picked out? If they'd had the remotest shred of dignity, or a brain consisting of something more than compacted lime jelly, they would have insisted that the cretin in front of them, proffering the invitation with a smirk, should be told to get lost, pronto. But they didn't do that, did they? They said, "Yeah, okay, we'll be there. I'd like a room with a view of Salford dockside, please."


The GOS says: Why are Man U so good? They're not afraid to put six in the box, and Gary Neville is there to mop up when it gets sloppy.
(The comment on this page is mine, but all the funny bits came from Telegraph readers. Hmm, makes you think ….)

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