FROM Arkwright’s stutter in Open All Hours to Tweety Pie’s pronunciation of ‘putty tat’ speech impediments and peculiar forms of vocal inflection have always been used in comedy.
I’m sure that, given the right handling, most people who live with a lisp or stutter would say that most of these jokes are funny and not hurtful.
But The Sun’s bizarre decision to highlight newly appointed England manager Roy Hodgson’s inability to pronounce Rs has got me baffled.
They headlined yesterday’s front page with the legend ‘Bwing on the Euwos’ and followed it up with the subhead ‘We’ll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance’.
For the life of me I don’t get the joke.
Well, I get the joke, but I don’t find it funny.
Hodgson, pictured left under the three lions national badge, who hasn’t even taken up the job yet, will probably shrug it off.
I’m sure anyone who is England manager develops, if one isn’t in place already, a thick hide.
No doubt, if as the nation surely hopes, Hodgson is successful his lisp will become nothing more than an endearing footnote.
But if his tenure is dogged by failure, which is surely more likely given the recent history of the national team, then expect to see plenty more R-rated headlines.
I think the new boss could describe it as rank insolence, in his own inimitable way.