Thursday, March 04, 2004

And he's barely hanging on by his nails, by his nails. He's barely hanging on by his nails

Such are the joys of football. Thanks to the blessing of a truly rotten Norwegian keeper the Toon have sneaked through to the next round of the UEFA Cup.

Working from home, I was able to listen live to today's UEFA cup draw. Newcastle were first out of the hat and we landed Real Mallorca in the next round.

For the traveling fan it's the one you want. Cheap flights, sunshine and lots of bars. There's also the glamour of playing a Spanish side but without the fear associated with the likes of Barcelona and Valencia who are still in the competition.

Putting aside my general skintness for a second. It's tempting. With the VSO thing coming up there's no spare cash for a proper holiday, but a mini-break sandwiched around a Newcastle game is very appealing.

For the last two hours since the draw was made emails, copied into a half dozen of us, have been pinging backwards and forwards. The assembled cast is Teacher Toon, McToon, Designer Toon, Linguist Toon, Accountacy Toon, Rain Toon, Dr Toon and Smoggie Toon.

The craic, as Shay Given would say, is good. Designer Toon, like me is full of excitement and is itching to get to Mallorca. However, like me, he probably won't because he can't afford it.

Together we make up the Pro-Sir Bobby faction.

The Anti-Sir Bobby faction is headed by Dr Toon. A combination of holidays in Peru, heavy investment in their football shirts and an appreciation of the fine art of passing a ball, has made Dr Toon a big Nobby Solano fan.

Unfortunately Sir Bobby sold him to Villa a month back.

Then again Dr Toon was never a big Sir Bobby fan. The argument still rages with the "pro" an "anti" faction scoring points off each other day by day. Poor old Bobby - he's 50% careful management, 50% cock ups and at his age every mistake is written off as the onset of Alzheimers. I can't see him being sacked but chairman Freddie might just be starting to leave retirement community brochures lying around till he gets the message.

Linguist Toon won't be up for going - he's going to be in Thailand. A very nice little work trip, thank you very much. But how do you get to tune in to see the Newcastle match when the whole country supports Liverpool?

McToon has split loyalties. His other side, Celtic will be playing Barcelona. That will be the last we'll see of them. Teacher Toon, as ever, is only catching up on the emails late and is both bemused and cheesed off as he tries to plough through them during his afternoon break when he'd much prefer to be smoking.

So far we've heard nothing from Accountancy Toon and Smoggie Toon. Which means they will return to their desks to find their inboxes clogged. If a couple of swear words have crept in then Accountancy Toon will be concerned that someone, somewhere will be monitoring his emails and will be ticking him off the list of Bright Young Things Destined for Promotion.

Meanwhile poor Smoggie Toon, at her Teesside place of work, will be glad to hear some good news. Hopefully, it will take the edge off the teasing by chuffed Boro fans who are still walking on air after finally winning a trophy for the first time in their history.

That leaves us with Rain Toon - so called because he has developed this remarkable knack of always entering the pub looking soaked. Even when it's not raining.

Bizarrely, when he walks in as part of the larger group he can still be the only wet person. Rain Toon doesn't fancy Spain (just as well for the holiday industry) but will be in France for the next round - should we get through.

If this is the case we could be playing Auxerre. If you're not a football fan, then make sure you avoid the place that week. Trust me the weather will be awful.

So that's the update of general chatter that has severely dented the productivity of British industry this afternoon.

So there you go, the bonding powers of football. It's one of the best reasons for being a bloke. Sisters may be doing it for themselves - but brothers are still drinking heavily and watching football. I know which I'd prefer.

Now, I really ought to do some work. Nothing has been achieved this afternoon. But, between firing off emails, searching the net for cheap flights and writing this blessed blog, I think I've remembered why I wanted to be self employed.

Luckily I have a very understanding boss.

If only my bank manager had the same characteristics.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.