More proof that you can put a price on dignity, this Betvictor advert showing Mark Lawrenson taking a dump (while being harrassed by Paul Kaye ) has been brought to my attention by a concerned reader. As tip-offs go, Mark Lawrenson defecating isn’t exactly welcome – it’s Adverts That Are Shit rather than Adverts About Shitting – but it’s come to the right place: toilets and human waste are going to feature strongly in the following analysis.
It wasn’t always thus but, for a long time now, Lawrenson has been the purveyor of the most miserablist commentary that can be heard on the television. At least he is now that Bob Willis – currently seen as the end-of-level boss on Sky’s cricket coverage, assuming you survive the numbing assaults of Ian Botham (tweeted picture of own cock), Nick Knight (openly scorned by England cricketers) and Andrew Strauss (described recently as ‘the energy tampon’) – has been shunted off live commentary.
Lawro has been giving Vladmiir Putin a run for his money in the stakes for World’s Most Depressed TV Personality for around a decade now, so much so that he’s started to resemble a Klingon crossed with Dot Cotton. When he’s not berating players – there are nearly 150,000 results on Google for “Lawrenson slams” – or sneeringly describing people who use Twitter as ‘sad’ (that’s fucking rich) Lawrenson is redefining the word ‘hangdog’ live on TV, looking for all the world like a man who’s just been told the cat has taken a crap in his Fray Bentos steak-and-kidney pie. It’s as if he’s so sad his face is just sliding off his head.
Type “Lawrenson awful” into Twitter as I just did and there are hundreds of tweets bemoaning the Lancastrian doom-monger. Commentators almost exist to be disagreed with, but the manner of Lawro’s depressing litany of whinging is deleterious. It’s like a sci-fi film where some sort of brainwashing signal is broadcast over the airwaves, only instead of making people kill each other it just makes people turn of the television, sit in the dark and contemplate their own mortality.
There’s an element of withering contempt to this too, just like Bob Willis who often sounds like he would go for some of the England cricketers, like a grey-haired preying mantis, if only he wasn’t so lugubrious. Willis is, wrongly, hailed for his straight-talking; like Lawrenson, it sounds as if it’s dripping in scorn and bile.
To see this done properly look at Geoffrey Boycott – a man who clearly adores cricket in all its forms and can balance his plainly-expressed views with respect and an ability to laugh at himself. There are increasingly few like him who can be called on to balance tactical nous with honest criticism. And plainly aware that his job is essentially an enormous treat – you just know with Boycott that he’d be there anyway if he wasn’t being paid.
Here’s a perfect example of what I find so egregious about Lawrenson’s commentary – he sounds actively annoyed to be there, having a bird’s-eye view of some of the best players in the world at some of the best grounds in the world. What a fucking drag, eh?
It must be awful for Mark Lawrenson, held, against his will, watching sports events he disdains so much. #prayforMark
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) July 4, 2014
Every time a commentator sounds like they’re phoning it in or can’t be bothered or – astonishingly – sound actively aggrieved to be at a game, is like a red rag to a bull for people who would love to be there. Sir Ian Botham was genuinely one of the reasons I cancelled my Sky subscription a couple of years ago: firstly because he’s such a terrible, unimaginative, cliche-spouting, desolate, chip-shouldering commentator; secondly because he once voiced the opinion that he wished it would rain during an ODI in some beautiful foreign clime, simply so he could go fishing. What an incredible slap in the fact to everyone who was paying him to be there.
As an aside, I hate any sportsman who is not a fisherman or a golfer talking about fishing or golf. Just because that’s the most exciting thing in the world for retired footballers or cricketers doesn’t mean I want to hear about it. Gary Neville playing golf or Nasser Hussain fishing are literally the two most boring things I can imagine – a hideous new-money, wanting-to-fit-in purgatory for the fatally short-of-imagination, as if football or cricket is merely preparation for graduating to what is essentially an 18-hole university for the terminal bore. How I long to hear that Jamie Carragher is going to life-modelling classes, Gary Lineker is working his way through the Waverley novels or Robbie Savage (if you call him Sav, you’re a twat) has been learning French at the Sorbonne.
Lawrenson Klingon pic.twitter.com/SVrf0qZ88x
— bob mortimer (@RealBobMortimer) December 16, 2013
Back to Lawrenson. I have friends and colleagues who have worked in sport reporting – and frequently it gets them down. It saps the enjoyment and wrings enthusiasm out of people. In my previous job it happened it to me. So I left, and they left. And we found something else that we did enjoy. From what I hear on MOTD, much like Botham and Willis, Lawrenson would be happier grouching and lousing while sat on his nice comfy sofa with a cold beer in his hand, rather than inflicting it on the rest of us anyway.
The imagery and metaphor of Lawrenson sitting on a toilet (it’s called Word From The Hot Seat for some reason) and presumably dispensing something obnoxious and debilitating is, in this instance, hard to resist. But despite the aptness of that image, it remains one of the single-most unpleasant things you could wish to see on your television screen. Should you want more of this of thing, fortunately for you it’s possible to see or hear Lawro shitting all over the BBC several nights every week.