Naturally enough, it's been the key bit of blurb for Andrew Flintoff's newie, Ashes To Ashes, just the third autobiog he's managed since 2005 [Sheesh, Freddie's better than you'd think at this writing game; Amazon is also pre-selling a fourth, Good Times Bad Times: Ready For The Fightback, due for publication in October 2010 - and what a loomingly prescient title that might be...]
The whole point of an autobiography is that it's self-serving, and sporting ones are generally an unappealing gloop of false modesty and hand-wringing justification, but Flintoff's seems particularly craven, judging by the extracts on offer in the Daily Mail.
There's the time he had 'quite a late night' on Australia Day 2007 and then 'didn't help things by having a couple of drinks on the plane' the next morning but - having been sent away from nets for not being able to throw properly - he 'wasn't as bad as Duncan said'. Fred 'wasn't going to make excuses' though, except that 'My wife Rachael had gone home and I probably needed someone to get hold of me and tell me to cut it out', and that 'I wasn't the only one... it was like being on a booze cruise'.
Then there was the time he got pissed at an England football match in Germany and gave a boozy interview to the BBC ['I had a couple of glasses of wine with lunch which must have topped up what I had the night before']; the pedalo in St Lucia ['Other people were out later than I was and I truly believe the morale of the squad had gone before then']; and the one where he missed the team bus to pay respects to the fallen at Ypres ['We had a late night. I wasn't the only one who was late down, but I was the only one who missed the bus. I'm sure if Harmy had been there, he'd have come and got me, because he knows what I'm like'].
Actually Fred, we all know what you're like. You've just brought out a book telling us. Flintoff carries with him an enormous amount of goodwill: he's not a bad guy. He is though more complex than such stage-managed mea culpas allow. The book can also be read as an exercise in media control - firstly in how the stories were originally spun, and then again as how they can later be sold.