“Respect is fine. Respect is good. Respect, however, should never stand in the way of your own dominance. Respect should offer no barrier from destruction. Sometimes, my friend, you simply have to destroy those you respect.”
It’s been 15 years since Tony Slattery uttered these words to me in hushed tones at the funeral of our great friend Scatman John, and there’s barely a day goes by when I don’t think of them and nod approvingly. It remains the single most perceptive piece of advice I’ve ever received from a ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ cast member. Apart from that time at the BAFTAs when Josie Lawrence told me that an anus “isn’t some forbidden room in Grandma’s house. It’s a bloody treasure trove”.
Respect has always been a cornerstone of my entire persona, something that I’ve built my entire moral code upon. Something that was given to me as a gift on my 14th birthday.
My great uncle Gregory was known locally as Papa Witchcraft. Or the Dark Wizard of Dudley. Or Mental Greg. He dabbled in black magic and he dabbled hard. He had a tattoo on his forehead that read: ‘Do you do voodoo? Cos I do.’ This cat was real. And every bastard knew it.
On the day of my 14th birthday party uncle Gregory was late. Real late. He had promised to sacrifice a lamb with a golf club to entertain me and my friends, so his absence was keenly felt. Eventually, my parents and I went looking for him, only to find him standing in the middle of the road in the next street over, casting spells at the house of a Caribbean family that had recently moved into the area.
We turned a blind eye to Gregory
Gregory was a deeply racist man, I’m afraid. Always had been. He once told me that the entire continent of Asia was “incorrect”, and repeatedly stated his view that Rosa Parks was “bang out of order”. As a family, we knew only too well about his views and, regrettably, we simply turned a blind eye. So watching him unleash a torrent of vile, hate-filled sorcery at the home of a young black family was a bit of a bloody conundrum.
“I BANISH THEE FROM THESE ISLES OF ALABASTER BEAUTY AND DEMAND YOU RETURN TO THE DARK SHORES FROM WHENCE YOU CAME!” he roared, waving a little wand he’d made from a junior snooker cue.
My father pointed out the irony of a man that practised Haitian Voodoo racially abusing a family from the Caribbean, but Gregory simply looked to the skies, rolled his eyes back in his head and yelled: “Ade due damballa. Give me the power I beg of you!”
Advice on a platter
At this point, a tall, handsome man opened the door and proceeded to walk towards us holding a beautiful silver cloche serving platter. All manner of thoughts rushed through my young mind. What is under that beautiful silver cloche serving platter? Why is he bringing it towards us? Where did he get such impossibly groovy cords?
Gregory froze, his wand held unconvincingly in front of him like Ron f*cking Weasley.
“OBEY MY WIZARDRY COMMANDS!” he yelped. “OR I’ll TWAT YOU BACK TO F*CKING AFRICA!”
The man smiled sweetly. “I am not from Africa,” he said, gently. “I am from Barbados. My name is Lionel and I am your friend. And as your friend I offer you this gift.”
With that he bowed majestically before lifting the lid of the beautiful silver cloche serving platter to reveal the most exquisite red snapper casserole that I have ever seen.
A lesson for Lionel
Within 10 minutes, great uncle Greg had renounced his racist ways. “I fancy loads of coloured women anyway,” he said with a chuckle – and we were all sat on the street, eating a gorgeously exotic meal, swapping downright hilarious stories about our different ways of life and rejoicing in our new-found friendship. A few months later, great Uncle Gregory even started having regular sexual intercourse with Lionel.
How’s that for turning around your prejudice?
I learned that night what respect truly meant. It meant looking past superficial disparity and embracing the mutual qualities we all have as human beings. It was the aforementioned Slattery, however, that added a new tier to this particular cake of enlightenment, teaching me that respect must never get in the way of achieving your objectives.
This weekend I take my high-flying West Ham boys to Old Trafford, where we’ll aim to earn another big-name scalp and heap more misery on Louis van Gaal (above) and his beleaguered band of featherweight fops. I’ve got nothing but respect for Louis. His CV is right up there with mine and he’s also a fellow advocate of free-flowing, expansive football. He does look a little like Rick Astley after a few hours in a tumble dryer, but that’s completely f*cking irrelevant, guys. Grow up.
At 3pm on Saturday, however, my respect for the man will be put on hold. My sole aim will be to vanquish everything he holds dear. I want to watch his heart break. I want to devour his soul. I want to quip, “Well this must be pretty van Gaaling for you” at him as we race into a 4-0 lead, and look on as despair descends upon him like blue fog.
Once the destruction is over, I’ll slip back into the soft, silken negligee of deference and show my appreciation for the Dutchman accordingly. It’s this fluidity – this supple, adroitness to my armour – that makes Big Sam not only a formidable adversary, but also an invaluable ally.
As for my great Uncle Gregory? He got robbed blind by Lionel and spent his remaining years in abject poverty.
I’m really not sure what the lesson here is, in all honestly.
Not Big Sam is a parody account on Twitter which can be found here. It is in no way related to Sam Neill, Sam Adams, Sam Allardyce or Sam Fox.
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