Monday, 5 July 2010

My Name Is Not Steve

I've always considered myself the sort of person who would never worry about his name. I'm the son of a man called Donald after all, so who cares what people call me, right?

Well yes, but I can't help but get irritated by the use of the name 'Steve'. Maybe it is because I'm getting older and therefore grumpier about such a trivial matter, but I truly do detest it. I rarely pull anybody up for referring to me by this repugnant version of my name, but that is mostly because I can't be arsed and not, as you might think, because I think being called Steve is cool.

Coolness is not high on my list of life's priorities, but then there is no need to make such an uncool person even less cool by calling him Steve. I can't think of a single cool person called Steve. Go on, name me a cool person called Steve. Coogan? One great character and an array of embarrassing attempts to match it. The Richard Ashcroft of comedy, if you will.

Or how about Steve McClaren? The former England manager is hardly the epitome of cool. It doesn't matter how many titles he wins in Holland, Germany or any other league in which they spit in each other's mullets, for the English McClaren will be forever remembered as the man who failed to take us to Euro 2008. The enduring image of McClaren is of the Wally with the Brolly, standing there non-plussed in the rain while his England team were denied a ticket to Austria and Switzerland by a combination of the kind of ineptitude we have just seen from the class of 2010 in South Africa and the goalkeeping skills of Scott Carson.

I might be alone in this but Steve Carrell doesn't shout 'cool' at me either. In stark contrast to Coogan, Carrell has had a number of similarly successful comedy roles, but none reside in the same stratosphere as the genius of Partridge. Carrell's comic creations are mildly rib-tickling, causing the kind of laughter you might force out if someone you really fancied made a reasonably glib remark. You can apply all of that to Steve Martin too. Martin's comic career is such that the last time I saw him on television he was playing banjo with his hill-billy friends on Later With Jools Holland. Jools is a much cooler name all around.

Steve Davis, Steve Guttenburg, Steve O, The Adonis Steve Beaton, Steve Naive, Steve Strange, Steve (insert your own adjective that clearly is not a surname here). None of these people are to be admired or copied. For every world title won by Davis there is an insurance advert, just as for every scene in Police Academy 29 that made you laugh there is one which caused you to hide behind the sofa in fear of the bloody slaughter of comedy. Steve is not cool, ok, so bloody well stop calling it me this instant!

There aren't many Stes outside St.Helens, so consider instead the relative coolness of people called Stephen. Stephen Fry is perhaps the greatest living Englishman, able to act, write, present, run away from a job and dance the fandango with the best of them. Stephen Hawking is widely renowned for his brilliant scientific mind, proof indeed that you do not have to be able to feed yourself to be able to make a lasting contribution to mankind. Stephen King is among the best selling novelists in the world, while Stephen Hendry's prowess on the snooker table makes even that of Davis look modest. Steven Gerrard (ok, so we're haggling over spelling now) is a prat, but an immensely talented prat. A prat talented enough to be able to drag a bunch of relative pub players up to the level of European champions in 2005, and then to score two superhuman goals in the FA Cup final a year later, one of which came deep into injury time when he was walking at about the same pace as I do.

God forbid also that we forget Steven Spielberg, without who we wouldn't have Jaws, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future or middle aged men who think beards look good.

As I reach the end of my breathless ranting I have finally thought of one man called Steve who deserves all our respect and admiration. Steve Prescott MBE is without question one of the most inspirational figures around today, especially for folk like myself living in rugby league areas where his influence and astounding courage are most prominent. Yet without name dropping I have met him on several occasions, and can't help but get the feeling that it was the sports media who christened him Steve. His name is Ste. Or Precky, but unlike me he is far too classy an individual to rant and rave about being called Steve.

Too cool, for sure.

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