Bob Cuffe column

Well, here we are. All back at work, rest or play.

Well, here we are. All back at work, rest or play. 2007 is most definitely here. The holidays are most spectacularly over. We are older, but no wiser.

The alcohol over the festivities will have destroyed enough brain cells to set us back mentally by at least one footballer each. Barely noticeable, but still a setback.

Actually the only intellectual skill-set that footballers possess is the ability to sign impressive autographs. Big flourishing signatures.

I reckon when footballers become apprentices, they give up all formal education, with the only class being `Writing Your Name'.

Each week our young footballing talent spending one hour a week writing their name one hundred times. All with their tongues hanging out. Making dozens of spelling mistakes.

Mr Rooney, banana in one hand, big felt tip in other, making funny noises as he concentrates on the difficult task in hand, `WANE no that's not rightWEIGHN...'

Eventually our sporting gods learn how to write on footballs, shirts, and women's assorted appendages.

None of them are aware there are any problems in Iraq. They couldn't spell Iraq. But they can all make a magnificent sweeping insignia with any pen arrangement you choose.

So, losing a footballer's intelligence would be remembering everything else, but having a shaky signature.

Bingo - that's us at present.

Last year we promised ourselves certain things. The nonsense that is New Year's Resolutions. All of which came to nothing. In fact, make that less than nothing.

Failing them all diminished us even further. Despite my best efforts at rollover lottery, I remain locked in wedlock. And the padlock's enormous. My mood hasn't been improved by my utterly debilitating illness.

I don't want to talk about it, but I've had Man Flu. Since Christmas every man has - or has it just captured Teesside? Has Tyneside had Man Flu? I bet it has. They may as well have put it on the weather charts - `and, as you can see, sweeping through the whole region we have an extraordinary bout of Man Flu, which is expected to last for ever.

`This is also likely to lead to a prolonged spell off self-pity, accompanied by strong winds.'

This is the time of the year when we all need cheering up. Thankfully I have Middlesbrough Football Club - which is a gift that keeps on giving long after the tree has gone. Others out there don't have the joy of awaiting Gareth's post match interviews, `We have to learn from this the spirit is good can't fault the effort help me'.

We have three hours of daylight, but it is increasing by around 90 seconds a day.

Soon - after the months of gales, tornados, floods, snow, ice and despair - it will be spring. Bill Oddie's on his way.

That, honestly, terrifies me. Chills me to the bone. Bill, arm in arm with Ronald MacDonald and Jimmy Savile. On their way. To my house. Around midnight.

There's no football this year - and those Australian cricketers won't be being beastly to us. The rugby should be a barrel of laughs.

No. We need to be cheery. We need perky peckers. We need to find joy in the weeks ahead. We need to avoid any programmes showing property abroad. We need to avoid anyone going on holiday abroad. I've just bumped into a git I know called Gary.

More precisely, I was hunted down by a git called Gary. I think I was the last on his list. Gary the Git wanted to wish me a Happy New Year. That will be right. We hate each other. Always have. Always will. Garius Gittius was all over me like a cheap suit. Like the suit he was wearing at the time.

A cheap suit. We've known and not liked each other for years. But now we're Happy New Year And All The Best, How Are You Bob, How Are The Kids, Did You Have A Nice Time?

I don't think so. I don't think so at all. He drew me in. He caught me unawares. I'm used to people ignoring me. It suits both parties. I don't care about how other people are, or how their Christmas went. Couldn't give a monkeys. Particularly with people like Gary.

He plays golf. Lives in the Tyne Valley. Wears jumpers. You know the type. Need I say more? Anyway, as it turned out, the sole purpose of our conversation was for Gitty Gary to inform me that he, and his family, are going to Antigua later this month for two weeks.

By the pool, drinking rum punch. And he got a really good deal. Certainly I hope he does get a punch by the pool, and I hope it successfully removes all of his teeth. Perhaps leaving one unsightly tooth in the middle.

Gary has set me back very badly indeed. But I intend to pick myself up, via the medium of alcohol. But definitely not rum.

Any thoughts on how we could cheer ourselves up at this time of year? And any disastrous New Years Resolutions would be welcome.

robert.cuffe@btinternet.com

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