the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

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Was this what Sepp Blatter was thinking about when he suggested that women’s soccer could be improved by the players wearing tighter shorts?

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Yesterday a man in a flat cap and an ill fitting shirt ran onto a football pitch and attempted to punch another man in the face. The puncher was a twenty-seven year old Birmingham City fan. The punchee was Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish.

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An interview emerged yesterday in which Liam Neeson stated to the Independent that he had sought to avenge the rape of a close friend by hanging around in London hoping that “a ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

A shocking, repugnant admission immediately condemned as such by Neeson in the same interview. Still too late though.

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It’s been twenty years since I pressed a piece of broken glass into my forearm and drew a line. Watched blood flooding the wound, temporarily obscuring the puckered white flesh beneath. Felt dopamine flood my mind, soothing the frayed edges of my nervous system, the perfect agony driven into abeyance for long enough to make it seem worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the reflexive recoil that self-harming prompts – and that you may well have felt while reading those words – is one of many reasons why we do it. There’s no language to effectively convey the inescapable roaring in my ears back then. No words to describe the excessive energy coursing through my veins like an orchestral surge. The only way to get it out – let it out – is to cut a hole and feel it leave. The blood and the gore, the shock and the awe. The inside turned outward for the world to see.

Please. Look at my pain.

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Today Gillette released a new ad asking men to engage with cultural changes highlighted by MeToo.

The response from men’s rights activists has been strong, with reddit issuing (unintentionally amusing) lists of Procter & Gamble (Gillette’s parent company) products to boycott, including tampons. Some make it easy to mock them that we’re obliged to do so.

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There are many conceits in English football, but the most important one is that you have to be hard. It’s important because unlike many of our footballing traditions, this one has some foundation in reality. England is cold a lot. If you’re going run around on a frozen field for 90 minutes on a Sunday morning chasing a man who may or may not have spent the previous night in the local police station, you can’t cry when he kicks you. That’s human survival.

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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.

Mere proximity to their work taints you.

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