Voluntarily attending speed awareness courses: my idea of fun, by Gareth Southgate

THE public perception of me as all work and no play couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s how, when not leading England into an evil football tournament, I let my hair down: 

Give my wheelie bins a really thorough wash

Household cleanliness is like international management – proper preparation is key. So every other Tuesday I treat my bins to a really good washing out. Clean bin, clean mind. I like to work from green via blue to brown, except for summer months when that order obviously reverses. If I’m holiday or there’s a midweek game, I pass the duty to my assistants, but they never quite do it to the bossman’s level.

Do the ironing

I could afford a dry-cleaner, of course I could. I’m on as much a year as Ronaldo gets every ten weeks excluding sponsorships and investments. But it concentrates the mind, every Sunday, to iron the seven shirts, pairs of trousers and waistcoats I’ll need the following week. I’ll think about tactics, laying out socks in a 3-5-2 formation with overlapping wing backs, or just watch classic Holby City from 1999.

Voluntarily attend a speed awareness course

I drive my Renault Espace with proper due care and attention and I’ve never so much as had a parking fine. If I had I’d resign. But my quarterly trips to North Wales are a delight. Martin, the facilitator, has become a friend. He’s the Pelé of speed awareness. I sit at the back, free of charge, he calls me gaffer, I get a a timely reminder that 20 is plenty near a primary school.

Update Wikipedia

To unwind I like nothing more than firing up my 2017 Acer laptop and editing me some Wikipedia.com. I began when trolls falsely claimed on my personal page that I was 17m tall, once set fire to a skip outside Villa Park and was sacked as Middlesborough manager for illegally importing crocodile eggs, two of which aren’t true. I liked it so much that once I’d set my record straight I kept on. To this day I’m up all hours, smiling broadly, keeping on top of pages as varied as Peter Andre, pistachio nuts and the Cuban Missile Crisis.


There’s nothing like grouting. Laying your tiles out, setting the spacers, pouring in a fresh load of grout and getting them good and even in perfect grids? I can’t get enough of it. Sadly, even when you own a six-bedroom detached mansion, there’s only so much grouting available. I’ve tiled it inside and out – the neighbours call it Public Convenience House – and there’s not an inch left. So nowadays I just grout both sides of a 16ft square board and stack it behind the shed.

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Kwarteng's free cash for the rich, Hunt's middle-class mugging – why can't we just tax the poor?

By Abigail Pennson, our reasonable, plain-speaking middle-class columnist slightly to the right of Hitler

TWO months ago, Kwarteng announced free cash for the rich. Tomorrow Jeremy Hunt will demand money with menaces from the middle-classes. But what about the poor? 

Every time the Tories throw out the tax net, they slip through like sardines. The big bluefish lose their fins while we striving salmon are filleted to within an inch of our lives. The poor? Swimming free.

Even now, with inflation still rising, with interest rates punishing the aspirational, with public services collapsing, there’s no attempt to tax those who buy most food. Who save the least. Who disproportionately use and degrade those public services.

Let me tell you a little secret about the poor: there’s millions of them. More than one in five of the UK population are in poverty, and there are plenty more on the way.

They far outstrip the middle-classes. All those hedge-fund managers Labour are so keen to tax? There’s a mere handful of them. However much profit Amazon might make, there’s still only one.

But the poor? They litter this country, from their bedsits above London shops to whole estates, towns and even cities if you’ve had the misfortune to visit the north-east. And after 12 years of Conservative government there’s more of them than ever.

They’re so numerous – and oh Lord, do they breed – that you wouldn’t need to take a lot. Just a few pennies from each and we’d soon fill that fiscal black hole.

And would they miss it? Not like we do. The drop from M&S Food to Sainsbury’s is palpable and shaming for a middle-class family. The shame of an Aga you can’t afford to run is with you every day.

If you’re poor? You’re already on Aldi’s own-brand crisps. You’re already on the bus in Primark clothes. A little bit of tax won’t make any difference to your wretched lifestyle.

So rather than donning that hair shirt and attacking your own, Jeremy, do something truly bold. Tax the poor. Hit them hard. See how they bloody well like it.