The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - PUZZLE TIME -

Nigel Farage gave an in­ter­view to an Amer­i­can ra­dio show to­day in which he was played a clip of me from the BBC’s Ques­tion Time re­cently, say­ing the fol­low­ing about Ukip: ‘I tried to find out what else Ukip stand for other than, “Let’s get out of Europe and send all for­eign­ers home we don’t like.” And all I could find was, “End gay mar­riage, cut all taxes, ig­nore cli­mate change and bring back hand­guns.” And I thought, are we se­ri­ous? Is this a se­ri­ous party?’

Farage snorted with de­ri­sion: ‘Well, there is one of the high priests of the met­ro­pol­i­tan lib­eral me­dia elites who clearly does not un­der­stand how peo­ple feel. I don’t care if Piers Mor­gan is rude about me.’

Now, I hap­pen to like Farage and I don’t care if he’s rude about me ei­ther. I think he brings colour and con­vic­tion to Bri­tish pol­i­tics, and I’d love to have a pint with him one day. But I still find his party’s ris­ing suc­cess un­set­tling.

Ukip has ar­gu­ments about Europe and im­mi­gra­tion that are worth hear­ing and de­bat­ing. Though when Farage rants about the per­ils of liv­ing next door to ‘Ro­ma­nian peo­ple’, he strays dan­ger­ously close to nasty Lit­tle Eng­lan­der racism for my lik­ing.

But on almost ev­ery other is­sue, Ukip is a com­plete bas­ket case.

And when it comes to things like gay rights and guns, an of­fen­sive, dan­ger­ous bas­ket case. I leaned fur­ther to­wards him. ‘Feel­ing in­tim­i­dated?’ Sc­holes emit­ted a with­er­ing chor­tle. ‘No!’

His fierce beady eyes then bored into mine with­out a trace of emo­tion.

And I ex­pe­ri­enced a mo­men­tary flicker of ner­vous­ness.

Like Mike Tyson, Sc­holes doesn’t need great height to wield ter­ror. He’s a small but per­fectly formed bun­dle of power, ag­gres­sion and con­trolled fury.

‘What’s your view on the Arse­nal team th­ese days?’ I asked. ‘Weak as p***,’ he spat back. He may be right, but I sus­pect that by com­par­i­son with Mr Sc­holes, most things are as ‘ weak as p***’.

Later, Michael Owen walked in. He and I have feuded on Twit­ter for sev­eral years. I call him ‘Bench­warmer’ due to the fre­quency with which he spent the last few years of his ca­reer as a sub­sti­tute. And he calls me ‘Large Undies’ for rea­sons I find baf­fling.

‘Bench­warmer!’ I cried. ‘You’re not ac­tu­ally go­ing to call me that to my face?’ he ex­claimed, in­dig­nantly. ‘Of course I am.’ ‘Well, I’m go­ing to call you Large Undies then,’ he fired back. At which point we both burst out laugh­ing at the ab­sur­dity of the con­ver­sa­tion.

When we got on set, I made an an­nounce­ment.

‘I’d just like to say what a great hon­our it is to be sit­ting here with a legend of the game.’ Owen’s cheru­bic face beamed with re­lieved de­light. Then I slid my out­stretched hand past his and on to for­mer Arse­nal hero Martin Ke­own – sit­ting the other side of him.

‘Great to see you, Martin.’ Bench­warmer looked crushed. Af­ter­wards,

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