Well after 100 days the Premiership resumed last night. As Jack Bruce once sang, I’m so glad. But it was a strange experience wasn’t it without spectators? Yet another thing this bloody crisis has shown the true value of is the humble fan. Without them turning up in there 1000’s at quite ridiculous costs, the spectacle just isn’t the same. The skill and artistry is all there but the critical ingredient in making the event exciting is not the sodding tv coverage after all but the passionate fans. Maybe now the clubs will appreciate them more. Nay cherish them. Nah it’s not going to happen is it?
And what else did we learn last night (and stay with me because this isn’t really going to be a footie posting)? Well that Arsenal’s David Luiz is almost as big a defensive liability as United’s Phil Jones. Not selected by the manager for the starting XI, he came on as first half sub, gave away the opening goal by failing to do the basic task in clearing a ball, then gave away a penalty and a second goal, getting himself sent off in the process. It was a calamitous performance. Plus ca change. And in the same match we also saw (yet another) master class in midfield excellence from City’s Kevin de Bruyne. Plus ca change.
But the opening match in this rekindled season was a poor affair between Aston Villa and Sheffield United. For very differing reasons both teams wanted a win, so of course it ended up a tame 0-0 draw. But the main talking point as ever became the technology or, more accurately, the lack of it. Sheffield Utd scored a goal when the Villa goalie in making a save dragged the ball over his goal-line. Football these days has Hawk-eye technology to immediately let the ref know whether the ball is over the line or not. And they tell the ref via a signal to his watch. But it didn’t work and the goal was ruled out. Now the ref could have asked the VAR to adjudicate or gone and checked the pitch-side tv to validate the action. But he didn’t do either. Or he could have done what I would have liked and used his own judgement like they used to do in the old days (ie before 2017). Because I think any fucking idiot would admit that any ball which was clearly lodged behind a goal post has to be behind the goal line. This would have been the view the ref had of the action…
Apparently the ref admitted later that at half time his watch bleeper went off to confirm it was a goal. Ah 15 minutes too late mate. If we are going to have all this frigging technology interfering in the game can the authorities please make sure it bloody works. Because it made a slight nonsense of all that personal effort (and club costs) that the teams have made to get the Prem show back on the road. And imagine how you’d have felt if you were the manager or indeed any player/official/fan of the disappointed team, deprived of a 3 point win and a big step closer to achieving Champions League qualification for the first time ever because of a technological glitch and a poor referee, unwilling to trust his own instincts.
You see it’s the little things like this that can drive you to distraction. Something you expect to work suddenly doesn’t and it’s exasperating. On a different scale of impact we’ve had a few of these things happen to us of late and whilst not impacting on our personal hunger for European glory, they are proving to be just as maddening. First up I ordered some clothes online – very unusual for me. The styles looked great – described as very cool American chic – and the prices unbelievably good. What’s that old saying… if something seems too good to be true, it probably is? Anyway the stuff arrived and one item was fine but two weren’t and needed to be sent back for a refund. Carol has been trying for over a week now to secure a return address from the elusive suppliers who seem to be based not in New York’s cool garment district but in deepest China. She’s just getting responses in pidgin English from a lady called Si Si Chen asking if ‘you no like wonderful clothing? If not fit right around big man belly maybe you find friend to give to who not so fat and like a lot’. Sigh. It’s looking like a PayPal resolution matter but we’re already writing the costs off and I’ve resolved not to buy any more clothes again left to my own devices. I had to pick the only cool clothes site that’s run by the Triads.
I may be hopeless at online shopping but at least I noticed two days ago when Carol was trying to enter the lounge from the hallway and the door handle just wasn’t working. She knocked and quietly shouted for my help. I opened the door to let her in and tried the handle from her side and yep it just wasn’t working. Out of the blue this simple door lever had just stopped functioning…
Why? Who knows. I undid all the mechanisms on both sides and it appeared that the centre bar had worked its way over to one side so that the handle on the hallway side wasn’t grabbing it. So I pulled it out a bit and re-fitted all the components and bingo it worked just fine again. Wey hey, I have to say I felt a bit like a master mechanic and carefully re-packed all my 350 tools spread over the hallway floor and placed them back in the understairs glory hole. Sorted.
Then last night for some reason I woke early around 3am and went to the bath room. I know that I always have trouble drifting back off again once woken so I headed downstairs to watch a bit of tv and hopefully fall asleep again on the sofa. But as I tried the handle to the lounge door it just moved without engaging. That meant we couldn’t enter the lounge and kitchen area with access to all our essential items. Oh FFS. I got the tools out again and managed to wrangle the handle furniture off sufficiently to allow me to pull the centre bar through again and re-attach all the kit. It took me 35-40 minutes. So at 3.45 I was able to enter the lounge at last but wasn’t able to fall off asleep again. So I’m pretty whacked this evening.
Then yesterday I got a copy of a letter sent to my GP from the hospital where I had all my cancer surgery, treatment and follow-up saying that they had scheduled a follow up colonoscopy for me in 2021 but because this will now be ‘outside of the trust guidelines for follow-up…the procedure has now been cancelled.’ And that I should now wait to be invited by the general bowel cancer screening program to be invited to participate. Eh? Now whilst I’ll freely admit that I’m not eager to undertake yet another filmic adventure up the muddy canal, I’ve learned that it’s essential to undertake every scheduled review procedure, appointment, probe and meeting to keep on top of this bloody disease. My brother, bless him, was the classic example of a man who avoided bodily scrutiny and after ignoring all the signals was taken from us, ravaged by bowel cancer aged 57. This just chimed like I was being abandoned for some unexplained reason. Well because of changed guidelines. What on earth does that mean?
So I’ve been trying for two days to get through to the hospital to understand the issue over these guidelines and to see if I can maintain the appointment as I have lots of trust in the people who have saved my life on 3 occasions and know my medical history intimately. Then today I got through to somebody after about a dozen attempts who fully understood my position and who said she’d get an endoscopy consultant to call me to discuss the situation. Fair enough. Then on the way to Northampton today with Carol to do some shopping I got a call whilst driving from a lady from the hospital. I obviously thought it was the consultant and explained my concerns over the whole scenario. I have to admit I gave her both barrels – politely but firmly – and after listening to at least 7-8 minutes of my passionate defence for retaining the colonoscopy procedure, she advised me that she was just a receptionist following up on my various voice messages left yesterday. Ummm. A bit disappointed, but thankful for her follow-up, I explained that I’d already been through this initial contact chat and was awaiting a call from one of the consultants. She wished me well.
I couldn’t help thinking I’d stumbled into a strange new healthcare world dreamt up by Matt Hancock where actual operations and procedures which are incredibly expensive are shelved under new parameters whilst we are encouraged to isolate and self-medicate (with is a lot cheaper). Meanwhile track and trace people call you up to validate that you have been contacted and that counts as a test and full NHS review procedure under new guidelines. The good economic news is that you die off a lot quicker and NHS costs start to fall dramatically. Woo hoo. But that’s not the point of the wonderful NHS of course. Thank God. This might sound counter-intuitive but here’s hoping I get that 2021 probe to Uranus appointment re-launched.
Anyway you see what I mean about being driven to distraction by things that just stop functioning for no apparent reason. I should try this lark on my taxes.