Thursday, April 15, 2004

Ho ho ho. I'm gonna go to the movie show. 'Cos I'm a big boy now.

Just as there are days when it seems that nothing goes right, there are others when it all comes together.

Days like these have a plot line, a beginning, middle and a happy ending.

There has been too much navel-gazing on this blog in recent days and for that I apologise. This post is the last episode in that particular mini-drama.

After a couple of days spent feeling wretched thanks to both flu and arguments, yesterday, despite it being my birthday, could still have been another no-fun day.

As determined as I was to try and pull myself out of the fug, I feared it could still end badly.

The arguments and misunderstandings were still bubbling under until the afternoon. Probably as much in my head as anywhere else, but still I felt uneasy about the situation. I was due to meet my mates in the pub before yesterday's match and I wasn't entirely sure what the reception would be.

Then in mid afternoon I got a call from a mate who wanted to talk things through. He deserves a lot of credit for this because, if it had been left to me, I would have buried my head in the sand and hoped it would all go away. It was a constructive chat. We put to bed some old arguments, reached a consensus on others and what we couldn't reconcile we agreed to amicably differ.

My entrance to the pub was delayed. I was invited out first by Teacher Toon and missus for a quick birthday tea. It was a very nice gesture from people who I have come to expect nice gestures from. I hope I never take these gestures for granted. It gave me the opportunity to bury some of my apprehension and have a couple of beers in easy company.

In the end the pub wasn't a problem. Everyone was friendly, there were no jibes and no falling out. It was the way it should be. And really, I shouldn't have expected anything else because I know what good people they all are.

By pure coincidence, Designer Toon had bought a match ticket that was only a couple of seats away from me, so with a bit of seat swapping with neighbouring ticketholders we were able to sit together.

To set the scene, this was a tense match. A match we had a real chance of losing. It was the quarter final of the UEFA Cup. For none football lovers what you need to understand is that Newcastle haven't won anything in my lifetime. If we were to win this game then it would remove another significant hurdle to breaking this duck. The score was one's each after the first leg against Dutch league leaders PSV.

PSV, I have to admit, are a better side than Newcastle. But worse sides continually beat Newcastle so, for once, we hoped we would reverse that tend.

After Newcastle scored early on, a equaliser from PSV meant everything could still go horribly wrong.

But, as I said, there are days when everything comes together. We got a second goal. Then we started showing a resilience I have rarely seen from my side.

Of course there was still time for a PSV equaliser which would have seen us lose on away goals. But, for once, I never felt worried. You can attribute these feelings to the brilliance of Jonathan Woodgate in our defence or to the fact that, yesterday, it genuinely felt that everything would be okay.

And so it was.

In the pub afterwards everyone was smiling. Doctor Toon, Accountancy Toon, Linguist Toon, Rain Toon, Designer Toon, Teacher Toon and me.

Despite still having a tough semi-final to get past, wildly optimistic plans were already being discussed for taking in the Gothenberg final. My favourite idea was to drive all the way there, in a convoy, like a bastardised version of the Italian Job meets Swingers.

Today, the wedding invitations from a friend arrived on everyone's doorstep. The last few days have made me value that invitation more than I ever could have done before. I am honoured to be invited and I know it will be a fantastic day.

Finally, we're all getting together again on Monday. They're filming a football-based film trilogy in Newcastle called Goal! and they are using the opportunity of a Newcastle v Sunderland reserve game to film some action scenes.

Entrance is free and, of course, there is the opportunity to be one of several thousands extras in a potential blockbuster.

It'll be a laugh, and for a change we'll all get to sit together. Maybe we'll even be able to spot ourselves in the film.

If that is the case then the DVD will be a treasured souvenir for all of us. And who knows, just supposing we did manage to win the UEFA Cup, then the film would forever remind us of our greatest ever season.

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.