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Angus Take House

Worst Take of the Week: Quentin Letts Vs Roy Keane

Letts vs Keane: the charity boxing match we're all waiting for.
Left:  Han Yan/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images; Right: Irish Defence Forces

Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.

TAKE #1:

What's the story? Theresa May tried to do a speech at Tory conference but instead just sort of croaked and fell over.


Reasonable take: That puffy laugh you do through your nose where you're finding something simultaneously funny and profoundly tragic.

Beef Dripping Take With English Mustard: Jolly hockey sticks! What beastly luck, but it'll take more than the larks of an impish toad or a dastardly throat to knock this marvellous old bird from her perch!

Quentin Letts is an odd little bloke, isn't he? After watching Theresa May's conference speech – the one we all saw, the one with Lee Nelson, the wheezing and the cascading letters – he came away impressed that she had made it to the end, something that apparently indicates how much she is going to smash the Brexit negotiations.

Amazingly, he's not the only person trying to peddle this narrative. Damien Green was on Question Time last night trying to argue that actually guys, the real metaphor here was a leader getting the job done in the face of adversity. As opposed to the genuinely quite on-the-nose metaphors implied when a leader is handed a P45, wheezes into near total silence and stands while their promise to the country literally falls apart behind them.

However, nobody has phrased the defence quite like Letts, who has managed to make a Daily Mail headline sound like an Enid Blyton quote. Not only does he refer to Theresa May as "the old girl", but the article itself genuinely features the quote: "She opened her beak and out came the meek whistle of a dented piccolo."


TAKE #2:

What's the story? Irish footballer Kevin Doyle is retiring from the international game, citing concerns around persistent headaches, possibly a result from repetitive concussion.

Reasonable take: If football is giving people brain injuries then that needs investigating.

COME ON THEN YOU FUCKING WHAT Take: I am too hard for brain damage. I'm serious – try and give me brain damage. My brain will damage you.

Roy Keane, clearly, is hard. Roy Keane could probably break the door off a fridge or push a cow over. He is a lot harder than me. If Roy Keane squared up to me outside a Slug and Lettuce on Friday night I would fold instantly. I wouldn't even attempt to banter my way out of it, or try to convince one of his friends to take pity on me. I would cover my face and say the word "sorry" over and over again until it ran into a long whimpering hiss. I want to make that very clear: Roy Keane is harder than me.

However, contrary to a recent interview he gave, he is not harder than brain damage. On hearing the news that Irish international Kevin Doyle was retiring, Keane said: "If you're worried about the physical side of any sport – and you're wary of it – then play chess." Which is a pretty conceptual level of hardness to afford yourself, really. Roy, anyone can get brain damage. You can't glare at it and say "I'd settle the fuck down if I were you" really menacingly until it stops. It's sort of like saying you're harder than famine or long-distances.

This comes at a time when conversations around sport and brain damage are building in volume. A Telegraph-led campaign to tackle football's "dementia scandal" recently launched, and the Jeff Astle Foundation – set up in memory of the former West Bromwich Albion player, who died in 2002 with the symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – just announced groundbreaking new research. And it's not just in the UK: CTE is plaguing the NFL as well.

But, yeah, probably just because everyone who plays physical sports is too much of a wimp to soak up a bit of brain trauma. Go and play chess, you squares!

Prime Cut: Technically Keane's take is worse, but Letts wins by default for the phrase "old girl". Sorry chum, rotten luck!