x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Awards overkill, Clapton, Tiger Woods's golf etiquette

The Oscars ceremony is less exciting due to too many recent awards nights, Tiger Woods's spitting incident in Dubai, Italian women are unimpressed with Berlusconi and Eric Clapton's style

Tiger Woods spat on the 12th green at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Tiger Woods spat on the 12th green at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Oscars ceremony has been outshone after too many recent awards nights

With a little over a week to go to the Oscars, I'm already suffering from awards fatigue. In fact, I can barely stifle a yawn at the thought of yet another red carpet, a fresh avalanche of frocks and rocks and hour upon hour of mushy, slushy, self-indulgent speechifying.

It hasn't always been like that. I used to look forward to the biggest awards night in show business and would stay up all night to watch it live. It's never the same the next day when the results are known.

There are just too many awards shows these days, and inevitably they feature the same faces time after time, the men looking exactly the same as last week and the women doing their best to shine in some extravagant creation that everybody knows has been borrowed for the night along with the diamonds.

We've had the Brits, the Grammys and the Baftas within weeks of each other and there are only so many times I can stand the charming Mr Colin Firth being suitably surprised and modest about his latest gong or breathless fashion commentators giving their verdicts on the dresses. One small mercy is that the Oscars organisers have ordered the nominees to keep their speeches short - they'll be cut off by the orchestra if they ramble on. They should do the same to the red-carpet interviewers whose gushing stupidity takes some beating. Their idea of a clever question is: "Who are you wearing?" which isn't even good English.

We can only hope that the irrepressible Joan Rivers will be on hand to give us her irreverent opinions.

The trouble is that it has all become so formulaic and predictable. They take themselves so seriously in Hollywood and they don't like surprises on their big occasions, and there's nothing bigger than the Oscars. The chances of a bit of light relief in the form of a political protest or a scandalously revealing outfit are slim. Helena Bonham Carter in an offbeat Vivienne Westwood gown is the nearest thing to daring that we're likely to see.

These days it's all about dignity and decorum and I hate to say it, it's just a bit dull.

Authorities should have come down harder on Woods for his spitting incident in Dubai

I don't want to put you off your breakfast, but I really must address the subject of spitting. Not just any spitting, but public spitting by the world's most famous golfer, recorded for posterity and watched by millions on television. Tiger Woods does it all the time on the golf course, but the spit we're talking about was particularly gross.

It wasn't a discreet clearing of the throat on a very windy day when dust clouds swirled around the Majlis Course during the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods wasn't the only one whose eyes, nose, ears and mouth were coated in a fine layer of the stuff and anyone would have forgiven him for taking out his hankie and getting rid of it.

The offensive spit was considerably more than that, however. In fact, it was a great big horrible mouthful and it was ejected on to the surface of the 12th green where it lay glittering offensively in the sunshine. It was an arrogant spit, a bad-tempered spit, a thoroughly disgusting and inconsiderate spit from someone who should know better, delivered in front of families with young children out for an otherwise pleasant day in the afternoon sunshine.

It was also a spit that will be copied by young people who idolise the golfer and who will be persuaded that if Woods does it then it must be OK. Well, it's not OK, it's not acceptable and neither are his muttered obscenities and bad-tempered club-throwing antics when he hits a poor shot.

The game of golf prides itself on its strict etiquette code that covers everything from the clothes golfers wear to the way they play, with courtesy and the safety of others right up there at the top of the list. Good manners and sportsmanship are highly valued commodities in golf as they should be in every sport, but when the world's top athlete pays them such little heed, the game's authorities should slap him down. The fine of £1,000 (Dh5,900) that they administered was positively laughable.

Woods apologised on Twitter, but he knows as well as anyone that the game needs him badly. Ask any average tour pro how much their earnings have rocketed since he first strode the fairways or how the gates fall off when he's not there. Even now that he's struggling to find his form, you only had to look at the crowds following him at the weekend to understand his value.

It would have given the Classic a real boost had he won. The bottom line is that he's still the best story, and doesn't he know it.

How Clapton still manages to be cool

How do you define what's cool in a middle-aged man. On paper, Eric Clapton is a lanky 65-year-old who looks a bit like an art teacher at the local comprehensive. At his Yas Island concert on Friday he wore plain dark blue trousers, a black short-sleeved shirt and comfy deck shoes. His greying hair was neither long nor short and quite neat for a rock star, there were undeniable signs of a turkey neck and he wore his dark-rimmed spectacles without any sign of self-consciousness or apparent vanity.

Despite all that, he still manages to be cool, perhaps because his dexterity on the guitar is incomparable. Many of his fans, however, are distinctly uncool and tens of thousands of middle-aged Baby Boomers were out in force at Yas.

Some of the men in the audience would have done well to have glanced in the mirror before they left home, such as the chubby little bloke in red T-shirt and jeans or the hundreds of 40-something guys with cashmere sweaters thrown casually over their shoulders and tied in front. The leather-clad biker with his bandana-style headscarf looked as though he had wandered into the wrong gig, especially given the slow, lazy run of ballads at the start of the concert.

It livened up after Layla, though, and the chaps were all there a movin' and a groovin' to the beat like the young things they used to be.

What I never understand about rock concerts is why so many people spend most of the time filming on their phones and texting and phoning their friends telling them what they're doing, instead of just enjoying the moment. And why do they all squash up against each other when there's so much room a bit further back. Then there are the really irritating ones pushing through the crowds with trays of drinks and my particular pet hate, the smokers waving their cigarettes around as they dance to the music.

Perhaps all the really cool crowd were at the Amy Winehouse concert up in Dubai on the same night. Great scheduling chaps! Would I rather have been there? Judging by the reports of her show I guess the answer is No! No! No!

Italian women disgusted with Berlusconi

Women were out in force this week in Italy to express their outrage over the sleazy behaviour of their prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Their protest was all the more powerful because it was so unusual and it's surely only a matter of time before he goes.

Italian matriarchs have always ruled the domestic roost and although Berlusconi's supporters dismissed the countrywide rallies as "just a small protest from trendy radicals", it would be misguided of them to ignore a million disapproving female voices.

It's unsurprising that women, in particular, are filled with disgust and shame at the daily revelations in the news. Sometimes it takes a woman's touch to steady the wobbling moral compass of a nation.