Four weeks away, so what's changed? Not me. Worst West Indian hol we've had in twenty Januaries: horrible weather, bloody cold, then I got a throat infection and couldn't even drink. But the street has enjoyed it, barely able to keep a straight face and affect deep sympathy while I've been moaning on.
James Beattie, it was strange seeing him come on for Everton against Chelsea. Funny things, eyes: they get accustomed to registering certain players for certain clubs in certain strips. No sooner got my brain reprogrammed than he was off, for head-butting someone - in the back of the head. That was unusual. I've never quite understood the physiological theory of head-butting, the head-to-head sort. Surely, you must hurt yourself as much as the other girl. Or does the fact that you know you are going to do it somehow insulate or anaesthetise you? Jose Mourinho loved it, of course, sitting there smug and snug in his coat, the same one he's been wearing for twenty Januaries. Has he not heard of Oxfam?
There was another strange incident when he sent on a sub carrying a handwritten note for Cardoso Tiago, presumably in Portuguese. Never seen that before, but it's sensible. No player can hear a manager screaming and shouting. Coaches should hold up notices and save their voices. The instructions for penalties and free-kicks would be in code, so that the other team wouldn't understand. Eventually, of course, each player will have a chip under his skin, undetectable by the ref. Then they can be controlled like robots.
The pitch at Goodison Park was terrible. I felt I'd been projected back twenty years. It's been a mild winter, yet so many footie pitches are cutting up. How do you know, Hunt? Swanning off to the Windies, lucky for some.
I know it because I came back and cut the lawn. It was 12 February, an all-time record, and we've lived in this house for 42 years. Whenever I did the first cutting of the year, I used to ring my father-in-law, Arthur, in Carlisle and say guess what and he'd go, "Ooohhhh." I do miss this fascinating annual conversation. He died eight years ago. But not forgotten. I told him in my head.
The referee Graham Poll has got fatter, in just four weeks, and Richard Keys of Sky TV, the hairy one who looks as if he has to shave on the hour, has put on four years. I heard a new phrase, emerging from the lips of two different people - Niall Quinn and Chris Coleman, each chuntering on about the unlikelihood of some team coming back, or someone scoring: "It's a big ask." Behind my back, they've turned a verb into a noun. I look forward to hearing it in a West Indian accent, when it will come out as a "big arcs".
I got back in time to watch England against Holland. What a mistake. So depressing, and I needed cheering up after my luxury hol. I never thought Sven had it, but whatever he had has gone. The world and his hamster can now see the king clearly has no clothes. Sven has pulled off the biggest con trick in football.
He has no ideas, no skills, no energy. The FA gave him the job on the rebound for two simple reasons - he wasn't overexcitable like Kevin Keegan or mad like Glenn Hoddle. Let's have a sponge, they decided. Now he's so soggy he should be wrung out.
To add to my groans, the commentator was John Motson, may God spare us, still suffering from false-laughter syndrome. He has this trick of clearing his throat, then giving a little chuckle when nothing remotely amusing has happened or been said, least of all by him. Then he starts trotting out inane facts he has laboriously written down beforehand in his best joined-up handwriting. He revealed that Stewart Downing, making his debut, was the first Middlesbrough-born player, while actually playing for Middlesbrough, where he was born, and in their team - oh, do get on with it, John - to appear for England in forty years! Astounding.
Watching England, thinking about Sven, then having to listen to Motty, it was doing ma' fucking head in, as Gazza used to tell me all the time. What I need is a holiday . . .