I’m currently between jobs. Before you become concerned for me, let me assure you that I am loving it, and although I know I need to get back into work in the not-too-distant future, for the moment I’m enjoying taking a breather.
My departure from my last position gave me some insight into two clichés from different walks of life that are often considered to be euphemisms: football managers are often reported to have “left by mutual consent”, which is genuinely the case for me; and politicians always seem to be leaving government posts “to spend more time with the family”, which I suspect genuinely is bunkum, but having been able to do just that, I can assert that it is a great additional benefit of having some unplanned time off. You often don’t realise how much you’re missing because of the “boiling a frog” scenario, with the gradual extension of your working day happening over a lengthy period, so that it is only when you suddenly stop that the scale of the incursion becomes apparent.
It has been well-timed, although not deliberately. My youngest has just started school and I’ve been able to play the scrummy (school run mummy, although I suppose I am technically a scraddy), which has been infinitely preferable to hurling him straight into wraparound care, although he was actually quite cross when he realised he wouldn’t be going to breakfast club after all.
One of the routines I shall miss when I get back into employment is my walk down to the corner shop to get the i paper. The walk in itself has been very enjoyable, although as the weather deteriorates I suspect it will become less so; the newspaper is what I’ll miss most though, as I won’t have time during the week to digest it and thus will go back to just getting the Saturday edition. The i paper is a fantastic concept, being an abridged version of the Independent; they describe themselves, accurately, as the only “concise quality newspaper”. It is just long enough to give me a good snapshot of the state of the world, and short enough for me to consume in 90 minutes or so. Other quality newspapers take a whole afternoon to digest properly, and as for the weekend tomes – does anyone actually make full use of the dozen separate volumes that comprise the Sunday Times?
I’ve had a quick skim of this morning’s paper on the way back from the shop, intending to read it more thoroughly over a lazy late breakfast, but my eye was caught by two articles, the juxtaposition of which inflamed my spleen somewhat, which is now in need of a good venting. The first is yet another article about the ridiculous hullabaloo surrounding Roy Hodgson’s perfectly innocent use of a joke at half time during the England match against Poland on Tuesday, which was subsequently considered to have had racist connotations. Robin-Scott Elliot’s piece is very well-written and sums up my stance perfectly. I would urge you to take a moment to read it, and then for God’s sake let’s all move on to something more worthy of our time.
Like, for example, the second article which caught my eye, on the same page. Paul Ince, former Manchester United midfielder and now manager of Blackpool – a name even those of you who have little interest in football will be likely to recognise – was banned from being present at his side’s next five matches for abusing an official after a recent game. The detail of that abuse has now been made public, and makes for shocking reading. The F word is pretty common in football, which in itself says something about the nature of football society, but in combination with the rather more taboo C word and a threat to render the recipient of said abuse unconscious, goes beyond the pale.
This man is a role model to football fans and to his own players. It is probably unrealistic to suggest that football managers should be beyond reproach, but they need to set an example of appropriate conduct. This disgraceful outburst at an official is inexcusable, and in most management jobs outside of football Ince would be lucky to escape with his job. My eldest has recently started playing league football, at the age of 7, and I am constantly disgusted by the vitriole that pours out of the mouths of some of the parents watching who should similarly be setting an example for their children; Ince is no different, but has the privilege of being in a highly-paid position of responsibility and influence, so the ramifications of his rant are far wider.
The main source of my ire is the contrast between the gallons of ink wasted over the preposterous Hodgson story, indeed “not newsworthy” to quote the alleged victim of the supposedly racist remark, and the minimal reporting received by Ince’s horrendous tirade. We – that is, society – have clearly taken our eye off the ball if we believe that is the right way round.
No recipe today, this was an unscheduled rant so apologies for those of you who dislike football but sat through this hoping for a nice risotto at the end of it!