Viewers of Saturday’s edition of Final Score on BBC 1 would have seen former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler apologising (doubtless after a prompt from the voice in his ear-piece) for using the expression ‘like a couple of girls’. He was referring to Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Torres’s silly tussle during the 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, in which Torres was harshly sent off.
Mr Steerpike is all for war on clichéd simile (and for telling preening footballers where to get off), but ‘like a couple of girls’ is not sexist. Fowler was picking at the pettiness of Vertonghen and Torres; he was not damning the massed ranks of the sisterhood or women’s football. As for the suggestion that his comment reveals a subliminal sexist attitude, come off it. ‘Like a couple of girls’ is an innocent phrase of the playground; a simple way to say that the two players were a nuisance. That’s all it reveals of Fowler’s mind.
A week tomorrow Lord Hall will outline his vision of the BBC’s future. Mr Steerpike wonders if his lordship will address the corporation’s tedious attitude to the inoffensive.