Sunday, November 09, 2003

To those of you observant enough to have noticed the steady deterioration of yesterday's post and astute enough to ascribe it to the deleterious effects of Stella consumption, it will come as no surprise to learn that any contact I have with the world at the moment appears to be taking place through several layers of cotton wool. I am reminded of that line in "Fight Club" where Norton's character complains that everything is a copy of a copy of a copy and find myself in complete agreement with his sentiments.

As far as my brain is capable of anything even remotely resembling thought, its main preoccupation at the moment (apart from attempting to ensure that its owner doesn't make any sudden, jerky movements) is trying to figure out something about its own nature. I mean, it sees itself as an essentially reactionary organ, as capable of short bursts of creativity as it may be and as cursed with a propensity for occasionally attempting suicide by Stella as it undoubtedly is, it remains nevertheless entirely dependent on external stimuli to goad, provoke or cajole it into some kind of reaction.

The problem under present advisement and one which is causing its synapses to stutter into something approaching, but still an apallingly great distance from, normal activity is this. One would suppose that when faced with an identical set of stimuli on two separate occasions, its response to this would be the same in both instances and it is the apparent fallacy of this supposition that is currently causing its cogs and gears to do whatever it is cogs and gears do when trying to provide a solution to this type of conundrum.

Let me explain. Under normal conditions or with a following breeze this would be, for me, the work of but a moment. However, as the ground appears to be a trifle heavy this day and that any wind that is blowing is against me, I would advise those wishing to continue to kick off their shoes (Jessica excepted), pull up a comfy chair and pop one of those long lasting, sugary type confections across the enamel as this may take some time.

Last season, and I am not referring to the summer - rather to that which all followers of the beautiful game always refer to with a set of double digits, in this case the 02/03 season, circumstances were thus. The Blades were riding high in the Division One League table and most assuredly guaranteed a place in the play-offs. The study of this table, listening to the match commentaries and communing with fellow Blades in the chat room combined to create the stimuli upon which my brain could feed, cogitate and reflect. The result of these activities was an uncomfortable feeling of optimism. Those of you wondering why optimism should be so described are obviously not followers of the Red and White Wizards but I will trust in the abilities of your own thinking organs to provide you with some idea of the emotion I was feeling.

And nor was I alone. It seemed everybody was awash with the suds of optimism, the froth of hope and the lather of conviction that this would be our year. That this was all to be flushed away in a deluge of despair at Cardiff was then unknown to us all. We were every man jack (and woman jill) of us frantically trying to keep a lid on our expectations and yet at the same time, little whoops of joy would escape from our throats at the most inopportune moments whenever the reality of our league position would occur to us.

Now consider this. The Blades are currently in second position in the league and as seemingly assured of at least a place in the play-offs as they were last season, in other words, exactly the same conditions prevail. So why are my reactions so very different? Why do I think that every passing match takes us nearer to the moment when the wheels come off and everything goes pear shaped?

I guess that, unlike a second marriage which has been described as a triumph of hope over experience, a second successful season sees exactly the opposite result. My brain consults its memory banks, or at least those which alcohol hasn't erased, recalls the hurts of yesteryear and the self defence circuitry kicks in. But if this is indeed so, then why did it so conspicuously fail to so do last season? The Blades have, with a total unconcern bordering on the pathological, kicked me in the teeth so many times that one would have thought such circuitry to be in permanent use, so...why last season's blip?

Oh well. I suppose I should offer an apology to those who have travelled with me thus far only in the expectation of reaching a satisfactory conclusion. Or just maybe I have provided a reminder that life is seldom satisfactory and that it is always better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

Pip, pip!

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