Gushing thanks to Sean for fixing my computer and bringing me back to reality. Just imagine being stuck in that awful bland world with all the atoms in it for an entire week, and I'm sure you'll understand the depths of my gratitude. Cheers mate, expect an imminent visit from an Amazon.
So now I'm free once more to wander wherever the cyberseas carry me, my palpitating thighs wrapped round Google Reader's salty flanks like Orpheus riding the dolphin. For a while back there I was almost reduced to using my own imagination. Now I can use all of yours' instead.
But it's important to give something back, apparently, so here's something I wrote about City's Wembley defeat eight whole days ago. I'm feeling a little better now, by the way.
Frankly, anyone who says ‘never mind, you had a great day out’ can kiss my red and white arse.
Yes, it’s a grand spectacle. The arch looms over you like something out of Halo Jones, the escalator to the top level seems to go on for ever and I’ll never forget the sight of 40,000 Bristolians packed in around and below me. But if you really think any of that makes up for losing, you’ve obviously never done the Grim Trek Home.
My personal dark night of the soul came on the train back to our car in Uxbridge. Only about five per cent of City fans had parked there, but five per cent of 40,000 is a lot of people, and we all turned up at the station at half past five and crammed onto the only train.
Never mind waterboarding, if I was the CIA I’d be stuffing insurgents into a metal shoebox with several hundred miserably disappointed people for company. Trust me, it’s cruel and unusual enough for Amnesty to take an interest. And the precisely modulated squeaky wheel was a masterstroke.
It’s two days later now, and I’m coming to terms with the sense of anticlimax. We actually played quite well, it’s been a great season, and Gary Johnson is still the best thing that’s ever happened to us. There’s no way we’d ever have got this far without him. It’s been brilliant watching the team mature under his guidance.
And we’re reaching people we’ve never reached before. On the bus to the ground last March, I met some students going to a game for the first time. They’d obviously never been that way before, because when we went past St Mary Redcliffe one of them said ‘look, Bristol’s got two Cathedrals’.
I hastened to explain. Bristol is a city of unities, I said. One cathedral, one harbour, one football team. I was being facetious, of course. There’s the Catholic Cathedral as well.
Good times for City, then, but we’re still sad. It’s our travelling fans I feel for the most. No trips to Manchester and Liverpool now, they’ll have to settle for Swansea instead. Just have a look at the Championship table and tell me honestly – football aside, has it got you thinking about weekend breaks?
I’m guessing probably not. I've been in the Tourist Information Bureau in Coventry, for instance, and you have to admire their heroic struggle against appalling odds, but there’s only so much you can say about Lady Godiva. There aren’t that many sightseers heading for Burnley or Watford, either. Just our poor away fans. Talk about looking for a good time in all the wrong places.
It’s alright for Premiership fans. They get five games in London next season. You could take football-loathing partners and leave them in the Tate Modern for a few hours while you swan off to Stamford Bridge. There’s even a Canal Museum. Imagine having so many places of interest you can afford to devote an entire museum to canals. Someone opened a museum in Watford once, but they shot him.
Home fans will suffer too. Now we have to have Neil Warnock back again (not Ian Holloway though. Ha!), and Nottingham Forest, who got promoted. Something in the soul wilts and dies at the thought of Forest coming back.
Of course, fainthearts say we’d have foundered and died in the Premiership. The likes of Rooney and Ronaldo would have just dismembered us, they reckon. It would have been like promoting a team of fauns into a division of meat processors.
Which is missing the point. Rooney and Ronaldo dismember everybody else as well. It’s the games against Middlesbrough or Fulham that really matter, and I reckon we could have held our own.
It would have been nice to find out, anyway. Never mind, there’s always next season. Don’t go telling us that though. Not till August, anyway.
I sent this off to Venue in the hope they might pay me for it, but they said thanks but no thanks. One reader has expressed disappointment that I was 'prostituting myself' to corporate ghouls. I can only agree, and point to the economic factors which traditionally drive people to such lengths. If there's one thing worse than being a media whore, it's being a failed media whore.
The good news is, Gary Johnson says he's staying. We love him.
And don't go thinking you're excused wall-to-wall football. Euro 2008 starts next week.