European matches are coming up again - hurrah for that, something nice to look forward to, fingers and toes crossed that some, if not all, of England's four teams will survive. If my arthritis is not playing up, I should manage it - it's better to look forward than look back, which is what I always say, about life in general, and about disasters, accidents and arthritis in particular.
In their first leg against Bayern Munich, Man Utd were so limp, dreary and unimaginative that I found my attention wandering, while Liverpool and Barcelona were so boring, grinding out that goalless draw, that I almost fell asleep. Arsenal had two minutes of inspiration, during which they grabbed their two goals, but were otherwise unimpressive. Only Leeds demanded total attention and utter admiration.
So what are we all to do next week, if three of the four return games turn out to be equally draggy? I'll be willing our lads on, hoping for a piece of artistry, or at least two passes strung together, but I do worry that there will be long, sterile patches while nothing much happens. In which case, friends, don't you often find that the old lids begin to close, the gob falls open, dribble drips from the lips, followed by the sound of zzzzzzzzzzz?
Not with me, obviously. Over the years of watching boring stuff, I have created five little games I play with myself to keep me awake and my attention intact. Feel free to use or adapt them.
Hair Hair. In every team, there is a dominant hairstyle. I tot them up, give scores for each side, think back to who had it first, then try to work out what it indicates about the dressing-room dynamics. Beckham was late to shave his head, and followed the likes of Roy Keane, which suggests to me that, off the pitch, he is not a leader. Gary Neville has stuck to his old-fashioned hair, which shows that he is a stronger person than he might appear, or just that he has no interest in fashion. I was disappointed when Stephen Carr of Spurs shaved off his flowing dark locks. Bad sign, I thought. He is not the powerful individual I had assumed he was. The shaven-head look is now everywhere in the UK, but not in Italy or Spain. What does that mean? It means that if Maldini or Figo ever succumbs to a baldy bonce, so will everyone else.
Facial Fun. Television is so good these days that every expression, every sigh, every raised eye, can be clearly seen, studied and enjoyed. Oh, I do love a good close-up of Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when he is furious with himself, or his team-mates, or the ref, or the world at large. He has the most pained expression in football today. I also enjoy Paolo Di Canio flapping his arms and his ego, and Stuart Pearce frightening the horses.
I can spend ages looking into the face of Lee Hendrie of Aston Villa. His eyes are so sunken for one so young. Has he been up all night? Have the lads in the dressing room been horrible to him? Or did his Mum never give him any cod-liver oil?
In the dugout, the face I worry about is Harry Redknapp's. He looks as if his ticker is about to pack up, or as if he is having a nasty vision. He then comes to, and starts twitching. At such moments, I feel I should look away out of respect, or call an ambulance.
Left Right, Left Right. This is more harmless fun, but you need to keep your wits, or pencil and paper handy. We all know the naturally left-footed outfield players, because there are so few, but what about left-footed goalkeepers? Watch when they take goal kicks, then you'll spot them. I have my list, carefully collected over 40 years. No, I'm not sharing. Make your own.
I also have a list of left-handed managers and coaches. This is a more advanced game, not for beginners, because you are not normally given any clues. You have to look out for when they are making notes. I'll give you one to start off with. Steve McLaren, Fergie's right-hand man, is a left-hander.
Big-Name Players. That is, players with big names. This is also good fun, but you have to be able to count quickly. The aforementioned Hasselbaink has 11 letters, the longest name at Chelsea. Higginbotham of Derby does better, with 12 letters, but I've never spotted him - or at least he has never had his back turned while I've been watching. The arrival of all the Scandinavian players has been a godsend for big-name spotting, with Gunnlaugsson at Leicester and Alexandersson at Everton. The joy in spotting big names is observing how the end letters fill the shoulders, then trickle down the arms.
Add the Ads. What you have to do is memorise all the advertisement hoardings so that, if anyone asks after the game, you'll be able to list them. Oh, they might. Didn't Baden-Powell tell us that a good Boy Scout notes everything?
One of the pleasures of foreign games is that there are funny foreign adverts for things you've never heard of. They also have moving adverts, which are a real challenge to follow, working out the sequence, taking care not to go potty.
So, with our lads all playing in Europe next week, there is a great deal to look forward to, whatever happens football-wise. Harmless fun for healthy boys, I say. And girls.