When I was growing up everybody mimed on Top of the Pops. I think it was compulsory. Around the same time a pop star who’d been on said that the experience (and I’m paraphrasing) was like ‘shagging with a Johnny on’. You’ll notice I said ‘a pop star’ and that I was paraphrasing. That’s because I couldn’t find it when I googled and that’s not the sort of search term you repeatedly want in your cookies. So the whole thing may be apocryphal anyway.
The point though was that it was good but there was a better version. I’ve always thought you could apply the same saying to watching your team live on TV. It’s a step up from Radio or Seagulls Player or following text commentary or twitter on a London Bus or in an Oxfordshire bedroom (I’m thinking these others as first base) but it’s still not the same as being there. Reading away on the telly? Time to move on from first base. The only problem was I had sole charge of my two small children as my wife was away at a conference. So the potential was there for multiple instances of coitus interruptus.
There are several places the metaphor falls down. Firstly it lasts over ninety minutes which is a stretch even for Viagra addicts or Sting. Secondly, the last time I watched a game on TV was Ukraine versus England during which I repeated shouted ‘for fucks sake’, ‘useless’ and ‘put some effort in for Christ’s sake’. This is not the way to get an appreciative partner during sexy time. It’s more likely you’ll end up dismembered. Luckily a good way to reign this in is, again, is to have sole charge of two small children. So how was it for me?
Five minutes before the game started I sat the children down with crayons, felt tips and enough paper to cause consternation among any passing Green Party members. Then it was time to hope that they didn’t come in and catch me doing anything inappropriate, or for that matter want to know what those weird noises were.
Quite early on and my date starts going wrong. On 5 minutes we push up for a free kick and a speculative overhead-kick long ball leads to a chance for La Fondre to break clear and score for Reading. Luckily Ward covers with an outstanding tackle. It’s the equivalent of the waiter forgetting the pre-dinner drinks before bringing some better champagne to make up for it.
The children were still settled with their drawing and painting. This never happens. The mogadon must have worked. Joke. Maybe.
Reading were still making my life difficult by pushing up and pressing to stop our possession game and they were making a good job of it but then Crofts got the first stifled scream out of me with a header that just missed the post. Tease.
The first major kid interruption occurs on 26 mins as the toddler rips her painting and defiantly screams for more paper. Naturally I paused the TV for a second and gave her it. The children must not see what I’m up to.
Now if one thing is guaranteed to make your date go swimmingly it’s an early indication that someone goes down easily. On 31 minutes Reading went down to 10 men as Pogrebnyak picked up a 2nd yellow for diving. And here’s the area where TV is better. Pogrebnyak earned two silly yellows which from the telly you could tell WERE silly yellows. Those at the game may still be wondering what it was for. But a dive it was. Still the game immediately went niggly as Reading tried to even the numbers. Is that a reputation I see quickly being backtracked?
What would be really bad at this stage would be for one of our key players to do something stupid and get themselves sent off. Like say Ulloa kicking someone in the face. Fucks sake. What WAS he thinking? Back in metaphor land we have polished off some beautifully cooked fish only to then have a row about her mother. We can still do this but it’s not going to be the shoe in it was five minutes ago.
At half time Oscar did a Wenger. He did not see the incident. Ok then boss.
The second half started and Reading came out strongly with Bridge at the forefront. This is like bumping in to an old lover as you walk out of the restaurant still pointedly refusing to apologise.
But then comes a period where everything is (almost) rosy again. I must have pulled the metaphorical bouquet out. We got in to the game and started giving it some. On 54 minutes Spanish Dave creates himself a beautiful chance but then he over slices it. Still I’m sensing glamorous undies. Maybe even stockings.
Ashley Barnes comes on and we start snogging in the back of the taxi. That’s me and the metaphorical date you understand. Not me and Ash. I can see how that looked. Don’t RT this please. Cough.
But how else could I feel? The toddler has taken herself off for a nap, the boy is alternating between watching and drawing. We were dominant. And there it is. Brilliant cross from Crofts & super volley from Barnes. Only the bastard keeper saves it. In my cab my phone rings and it’s the boss. Then their keeper produces another majestic save. The bastard wants me in early tomorrow.
And then Barnes misses from a yard. It was a brilliant save on to the post but it’s the equivalent of me mentioning her mother again. Frustration all round as we both go to bed with our PJs on and read a good book. 0-0 full time. I do hope that report wasn’t too redolent of Ian Holloway.
To drop the ridiculous metaphor for a second it’s actually a pleasing point. I predicted here that Reading and QPR would go up automatically and we never beat them so to get a point at their place is a good afternoon’s work. Next up? That would be QPR. Away. Without Ulloa. Gulp.