AS a country, we only have two jokes about sport. All Manchester United fans live in Surrey, and Andy Murray is British in victory but Scottish in defeat.
Every year these jokes are repeated again and again and again. Are you not bored?
I say, I say, I say, those Manchester United fans didn’t have too far to go home when they lost the Champions League at Wembley. Back to Surrey.
Sometimes the joke is varied in the words used to tell it, but the essence of the joke is the same.
See that Olympic stadium, they should have given it to the team who has the most fans living nearby. Yeah, Manchester United. Ha, yeah, put that on a sketch show on BBC Three.
This exploration of boredom is, however, harmless compared with the attempts at humour that have infected the joke forum that is Twitter since Wimbledon served off on Monday.
Scratch the word joke there.
As each female tennis player who isn’t perfectly bronzed and blonde has hit the court, tweeters have ruled with prolific regularity: You look like a man.
Venus Williams. Man. Her sister. Man. The one that Venus played in the first round. Man. The one Serena played in the first round. Not a man – she got nice hair, she gorgeous, she nice, look at her, she nice.
Take Francesca Schiavone.
Not the world’s greatest player, albeit a French Open winner, but her matches are generally lit up by her imaginative point-building, leaps across the court and impossible slice shots. None of that matters to Twitter – ie you flawlessly beautiful people watching at home. No, to you: Schiavone – looks like a man.
Here’s a sample of this cruel train of messages:
• ”It’s true that Schiavone looks like a man, but at least that man is Scott Baio.”
• “Schiavone looks like Samir Nasri.”
• “I just wanna watch Murray – and Schiavone looks like a man.”
• “She looks like a man and is actually quite hideous to look at.”
You wonder if the people on the keyboards and the phones are actually quite hideous to look at. It’s doubtful whether Schiavone or any of the others will shed tears. She’s got a big, fast car which she drives around Italy, feeling good. The twitterers, in contrast, have an iPhone with a cracked screen. But that’s not the point. Over a half decade, it’s almost become acceptable to wheel out the “you look like a man” joke as often as Man United fans come from Surrey.
Once we accept that such meanness is ok, just a laugh, it infects life beyond sport and computer messages. Next week the girl in the park just trying to hit a few shots across the net, well, she’ll look like a man too.
Twitter: you look like a man, a big ugly man.