New book: “Why Are We Always Indoors?” mixing football, humour…& Dominic Cummings!


Book review: We read the books so you don’t have to! This week: “Why Are We Always Indoors? (unless we’re off to Barnard Castle)” by Paul Armstrong.

Name of book? – “Why Are We Always Indoors? (unless we’re off to Barnard Castle)”

Real name of book? – No, that REALLY is the book’s name.

Sounds familiar – Well, ironically it’s the follow up to Paul’s book “Why Are We Always On Last (on Match Of The Day)”.

Why is that ironic? – Because when Stoke City were in the Premier League the “Last on Match Of The Day” was almost a mantra for their supporters.

But what has Paul Armstrong got to do with BBC’s Match Of The Day? – He used to run the programme, and spent 15 years having to defend the running orders he concocted!

Stoke fans might have something to say to him! – Stoke fans WILL have something to say to him! The latter half of Mark Hughes’ reign resulted in many late nights waiting for Stoke to be on the box! And the first part of Hughes’ reign. And the Pulis years…

Anyway, what’s this book about?! – It’s effectively Paul’s daily streams of disbelief during the first lockdown, from the time of the cancelling of Premier football to the return of Match Of the Day.

So, he keeps up the football theme? – To a certain degree, but his main topics are the government’s inept handling of the pandemic, rock music, and – in particular – Dominic Cummings.

There was a clue in the name of the book? – There was indeed a clue in the name of the book. Two points for spotting that.

So, whom does he compare Cummings with? – Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s hatchetman, which is pretty harsh, bearing in mind his involvement in Anne Boleyn’s demise.

But didn’t he orchestrate England’s split with Rome that violently divided the country for hundreds of years? – Hm, maybe there’s something in that comparison…

And the pandemic? – Paul skilfully dismembers Boris & Cummings’ COVID strategy, which over the 11 weeks worsens. But as he picks through all the detail, it so affects Paul that he ends up having a mini breakdown on May 24th!

Too much knowledge not a good thing? – Without football etc as a distraction from the disaster (government/pandemic) unfolding in front of him, it left him exposed.

Sounds heavy – Actually, it’s a very light easy read. Informative and witty.

Apart from? – He sneers at then-shadow-chancellor John McDonnell after Sunak announces the furlough system saying, “What would you have done, Johnny boy?” when in fact McDonnell had outlined his (similar) plans the day before!

Best joke? – The MOTD “Peter Reid and Ian Wright” quip, which he claims the credit for. [“Alongside Alan Hansen, something most footballers can’t do, Reid and Wright!”]

So, should I buy it? – Of course!

You ALWAYS say that! – It’s a great book that captures a critical time in this country’s existence.

Team supported? – Middlesbrough. Oh dear.

Next book? – Hopefully he’ll tackle the unfolding Brexit debacle, although that might send him & us completely over the edge. But we’ll be laughing as we go!