25 October 2008: Hull - Hell, Or Happiness?
Ever get one of those days when you feel like you?ve just been hit by a mini-whirlwind? That was the pair of us, last night, at my stepmother?s place. The problem? Well ? not so much a problem, more a small boy, really, and whoever it was that defined a young lad as ?a small object surrounded by dirt and noise? hit the nail right on the head, I reckon. Once young Ethan had gone, a trail of sheer nervous exhaustion was his pressie for the remaining adults gathered in the room. He?s seven now, but very shortly to hit his eighth birthday ? his parents are taking him to watch the Baggies as part of what Jeremy Peace would undoubtedly term ?a highly satisfactory birthday experience?. Poor sod: I can only hope someone phones Social Services to save him from a lifetime of irreparable trauma, the inevitable outcome of getting addicted to the Baggie drug! ? treated us to a virtuoso performance of his very own interpretation of ?The Incredible Hulk?, as seen on DVD. He dives better than Ronaldo, he does. If you have a small boy also, ?nuff said?
And very animated, not to mention imaginative, was his performance was, too: we?re but the latest of a long, long line to tell his mum that she ought to be thinking of getting him into some sort of drama class ASAP. We?d both spotted his thespian aptitude around 18 months ago. Whatever kind of talent it is that makes a kid shine way above the rest in the ?imagination? department AND possess both the ability and extrovert personality to clearly convey a range of emotions to an audience on top, he?s sure got it.
And ?sure got it? is absolutely the only way to describe ?Im Indoors, both last weekend and Monday. Poor lamb went down with a nasty chest infection the week before we were away, visited our doc on the Friday before the international weekend ? but he never dished out the usual prescription for steroids, this time. ?He?s made a boo-boo, there,? said I ? and I was right: precisely one week later, there was His Nibs back at the quacks again. Different doc this time, and one with a ?thing? about chest infections, too. Before the poorly little soldier knew it, not only did he get his much-needed steroids, he also got a steroid ?super-inhaler? ? with a repeat visit booked the following Monday, as she was so concerned. Amen to that, I say: before the lad finally got his ?magic pills? down his clack, it was like sleeping with Darth Vader ? bar the light sabre, of course. Just as well, really, it would have made one hell of a mess of our duvet, and an outbreak of ?Slightly-Singed Cat Syndrome? wouldn?t have gone down too well with the RSPCA, in any case.
In order to complete this piece without inducing hypothermia on my part, I?ve pressed into service one of our older PC?s, not connected to the internet, and using it like a word processor. Same deal, though: typing my piece up during the evening, then transferring it to the ?proper? machine today (Saturday). Mind you, there?s another excellent reason for not tarrying in our conservatory, right now. When I?m working there, right above my head hangs a very unusual variant on the ?Sword Of Damocles? theme ? a hypertrophied, grossly tumescent, even, cucumber! Blame my other half for training the damn plant to reach the glass roof in the first place, then letting it extend the offending tendril bearing ? erm ? ?botanical gifts? horizontally inwards i.e. in the direction of the outer wall of our house.
Now for the Big Question ? were hubbie?s horticultural marvel to suddenly detach itself while I was working underneath, then strike me very hard indeed, could I claim off the house insurance, I wonder? Mind you, ?Death By Cucumber? doesn?t have quite the same salacious, scandalous ring about it that, say, ?Death By Poison? or ?Death By Electrocution? might. Come to think about it, would the police take it seriously, or simply break into a protracted bout of helpless laughter the first moment they heard the tale? Judging by the giggly reaction from the healthcare staff in our local A and E when I was bitten by a mouse, a couple of years ago ? that?s the very last time I ever try to rescue a rodent from a feline?s jaws, I swear! ? I reckon I know the answer to that one already.
And so, back to far more mundane things, viz: our attempt today to do what both Arsenal and Spurs failed to do, this season ? sort out bloody Hull City to everyone?s satisfaction. Fair play to them, mind; right now, everyone connected with that Humberside club must still be pinching themselves to see if they?re dreaming. Not too surprising, that ? according to the record books, Hull?s start to the current season is the second ever best made by a club promoted via the play-offs since the Premier League first started, back in 1992.
With just 7 games gone as of last Saturday, City had 14 points tucked safely under their belts: their Sunday win versus West Ham made it 17, just under half of what they need to stay up. The way they?re going at it, they?ll do it in a walk. The only other outfit to better that wonderful start of theirs, to date, are Blackburn Rovers, who, with seven games gone also, had amassed a cool 17 points at the beginning of season 92-93, which was by sheer coincidence the Prem?s inaugural season. Let?s hope that this afternoon, we don?t help them on their way by donating three precious points to their charitable cause.
My other half is quietly convinced we?ll stop ?em in their tracks, or so he says. This column isn?t so sure. Hull have such an air of confidence around them, right now, it?ll mean one monumental effort on our part just to keep the back of our net pristine. Let?s just hope Roman Bednar?s horoscope is looking suitably favourable. And Scott Carson?s. A win today would put us in an excellent frame of mind for the horrendously-long Newcastle jaunt next week, of course.
Watching The Toon play Man City last Monday, going one behind, with one of their number being shown the red card also, then taking the lead, only to drop two much-needed points courtesy of a late, late City equaliser, it struck me that Joe Kinnear might be quietly achieving the impossible at St. James?s Park, viz: sorting out that complete and utter train-crash of a side, finally. That goal, with the red-carding on top, would have finished many, much better sides, than they, hence my surprise when they left the pitch with the point come the end. But as in politics, a week in football is a time period of astronomical proportions. Is it not too much to hope that by the time we get to visit, the Geordies will have reverted to their usual defensively-charitable ways?
But back to today. In a press conference yesterday, Mogga actually admitted that the loss of Kev Phillips?s opposition-destroying services represented a pretty savage blow to his Premier League plans. Anyone on the Brummie with half a brain could have told him that, and much earlier in the current campaign, too. Dearie, dearie me. As for the remaining underperformers, three-goal Roman Bednar excepted, Mogga had this to say: ?Luke (Moore) has been unlucky. He was sent off in his first game and has struggled to get going since. Now he has to rise to the challenge.?
Challenge? Rise? As far as I?m concerned, Villa saw us coming with Luke Moore, although I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised, one day. Apropos of our other seriously goal-shy performer, Mogga still reckons Albion can make a Premiership striker out of the lad: ?(As for the suggestion that) Ishmael Miller is not the player he was, I think that's a bit harsh. We have moved up a level and you have to remember the quality we are playing against.?
And maybe he will? At Old Trafford last Saturday evening, substitute Miller was about the only Albion player to force United?s keeper into not just one serious save, but TWO. It?s nice to have your pre-match expectations of below-par players so completely shattered, sometimes. Should the lad do better today by scoring against Hull, my joy will be unbridled, and my cup overflowing, needless to say.
Today?s thrash will also see the reunion of George Boateng and James Morrison, former big Hull buddies, the pair of them. According to the Baggie lad, the ?robust tackling? Boateng is a completely different person off the pitch. Being yet another practicing Christian ? yes, they?re everywhere in the game, something I find quite strange, sometimes - helps in that respect, I suppose.
The good news is that there?s no fresh injury problems of our own to report for this one, thank heavens, so we should be going with what we had versus United last week. The lad Meite isn?t quite ready to return from long-term injury, according to Mogga, and Tex, injured during training recently, isn?t ready to return either. The visitors? Marlon King should be fit to start, despite the lad still struggling with a back injury. During the Hull pre-match press conference, Phil Brown also hinted he?d use the full extent of his squad for the immediate future, but Nick Barmby, Stelios Giannakopoulos and Anthony Gardner may not get starts, having only resumed proper training this week. Former Spurs defender Anthony Gardner will certainly be on the bench for today?s game, though.
My parting thoughts? Grab three points from this one, Albion. We really do need a massive confidence-booster after the United drubbing! My post-match narrative will appear tomorrow: I?ll do a lot for the cause, but getting hypothermia while producing this isn?t one of them!. Let?s hope I?m typing this with a daft grin on my face, come tomorrow!
PAR FOR THE (AUSSIE) COURSE? Many thanks to Phil and Gloria, Perth Baggies both, for sending us a pic with a slight ? erm - difference, one we immediately pressed into service as a screen-saver. Once we?d both finished giggling, of course, You?ll see why in a minute ? but before I go into detail, you set the scene by having a little think about what kinds of creature you?re likely to spot on a golf course in good old Blighty? (Yes, I?m ignoring all the cruel remarks about sundry winos, dossers and sundry juvenile delinquents, who may, or may not, be as high as a kite on booze or glue when you encounter them. Cynics, the lot of you!)
Birds? Sparrows, magpies, maybe? A squirrel or three? And, if you?re really lucky, one all-too brief glimpse of a passing fox? All that, and more ? but in sunny Oz, they go one better. The pic we have from Perth is one of KANGAROOS hopping around the fairway of the local golf club: one?s clearly a female, on account of the impressive bulge in the old pouch department partially hiding the resident ?joey? from closer scrutiny.
But that?s not all ? look again, and you?d see what Madam Roo is actually doing. I?d initially thought she had another, larger, joey standing behind, which just goes to show how wrong you can be. Closer inspection showed she was, in fact, engaged in earnest coitus with another (male, obviously) ?roo! Please address any awful jokes about ?holes-in-one? etc. to Phil, please, not me! Or Norm Bartlam ? he absolutely loves that sort of thing, so much so, he should carry a government health warning.
One final thought: here?s a poser for the golfing fraternity. Would you regard the presence of bonking kangaroos on the main drag as a ?natural hazard?, necessitating a ?dropped ball? shot well out of harm?s way, or would the poor sod encountering said coupling marsupials ?in flagrante delicto? have to play the shot precisely where the ball landed? And tough luck if said person frustrated the loving couple?s attempts to begat the next generation?s contribution to marsupial road-kill (those road-trains of theirs are what a combination of speeding cars and dark main roads does to our very own hedgehog population), thereby bringing upon themselves immediate ?roo retaliation? No joke, that: a fully-grown Skippy can quite easily inflict broken limbs upon anyone foolish enough to disturb it in the act of copulation, even hairy, Foster?s Lager-swilling bush-bashers. Bet Tiger Woods never has this problem!
- Glynis Wright
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