As a fan of some years standing, I can confirm that football is not an easy life companion. I love it, of course, but it’s like that mate who turns up late to the Christmas Day do, drinks all the brandy and then starts throwing shapes on the dancefloor thinking they’re Travolta.
Just as you’re trying to quietly usher them out without further embarrassment, you realise they’ve tucked the table cloth into their collar and in bolting to the bar for last orders, have showered your Gran in Iceland vol au vents.
After months of testing, tweaking and concessions to the ‘No! Make it more Bane!‘ lobby, Nike have started promoting their Squad Snood.
In the real world it’s just another fashion transgression from the people who bought you day-glo boots, ham shirts and the Gucci manbag. For some members of the football community though, it’s reappearance heralds the start of another pitched battle for football’s soul.
Given the response to his club’s tweeted status last weekend, you might have expected Cristiano Ronaldo’s entourage would be keeping a closer eye than usual on statements about their charge emerging into the public domain. Cristiano is used to golden breezes caressing his bronze and chiselled cheek so the harsh blowback from the press and social media over Juventus ‘great professional’ comments will have chapped his face quite badly.
I’ve just realised how mentally ill I was in my twenties. Not via the conventional channel of therapy, upon which I’m frantically paddling after waves of mental health, but by listening to a podcast about serial killers and an old Oasis B side.
My subconscious is definitely smarter than I am. Unfettered by me, it would probably have passed loads more exams than I did, gone to uni, been a proper person, made good contacts and given itself the best possible run at a career in writing.
My subconscious had it easy though. It was able to see life clearly, assess it and identify a sensible, well lit path for it to follow to the required destination. Sign posted and everything.
I emerged onto that same path in the midst of a fistfight with a foe I wouldn’t get a good look at until I was in my early thirties. Every step I took, every decision I made was critiqued by this relentless, petty creature, who liked to lounge on my back and critique my progress, desperate for a misstep so it could remind me how the whole thing was my own fault because I was crap.
Some books are bad. Not in a Mein Kampf sort of way, although there’s plenty of that about. In this case I mean the ‘if my parents catch me reading this trash, some non-specific unholiness will envelope my family and I’ll be ostracised from the community’ way.
In my early teens, these books were generally located on my Gran’s bookshelf.