With just a handful of men, we’ll start all over again…

Well obviously in the year 2018 this would have to be changed to “With just a handful of sperm-producing homo sapien bipeds…” but somehow it’s not quite so snappy. Forget snappy, forget scanning and rhyming and couplets, we just must ensure that no-one is offended…

Actually I am quite startled to find that I have not cracked one of these out since December 2017, but then in other ways I am not.

Life since October 2016 has been even more challenging than normal, leaving very little time to oneself (which has left him upset and refusing to make the shoes at night…go on, admit it you’ve missed me haven’t you?!) and meaning that the diatribe of cobblers that I issue forth has been reserved for the few people that I get to speak to and frankly they, a bit like Gordon Ramsay in Hell’s Kitchen, have had enough.

So here I am, my hair braided and wearing my finest raiment, the Mont Blanc poised over the vellum for the occasion and I am left mentally spinning wondering, on which (or what) to opine.

Now it’s not like there hasn’t been much to talk about in the last seven months, however if I never hear the word Brexit and the opinions supporting any of the multi-faceted sides again it will be too soon and the joker over the water is also more than well-covered so I shall side-step him like David Duckham of Coventry and England and move on.

When I say my ‘finest raiment’ it is fair to say that I exaggerate slightly using artistic licence for, dear reader,  I am perched on a stool regaled in a white vest and boxer shorts, gently melting in a temperature of 81 deg F in my kitchen waiting for a joint of beef to finish roasting. Whilst you reel over the cornflakes as the hideous mental picture of a latter day Daniel Lambert comes into your mind like Reggie Perin’s hippopotamus ( I always picture Daniel Lambert with a flagon of good mead in one hand, a large portion of pie containing ludicrous meats such as owl, beaver and crow in the other and wondering with significant annoyance where the oxtail stew and brace of guinea fowl that follow are, and what’s more why they are taking so long…don’t you?), I can reassure you that the vest is not string but rather the wife-beating variety favoured by Paulie Walnuts and any other Italian racial stereotypes you care to think of (your reassurance is doubtless manifold!). The fact that it is that temperature and the time is 00:47 may give you an idea of the conditions that I work in during the summer months.

A usual British summer is of course tolerable, my only question as I climb into the outer garments is how many scarves and layers of waterproofs do I need to put on, but this one, well this one is hard work in a kitchen.

Lay me by a pool, a regular supply of ice cold Peroni to hand, a decent book and within crawling distance of a glistening swimming pool and I am all for it. The Italian genes mean that I turn brown when I stand too close to a light bulb, so no worries there, but pass me a sharpened knife, a cutting board and the necessary materials to produce lunch for sixty and I am afraid the lip curls like a silver objet d’art collector when confronted by ‘Modern Dutch’ (no, I’ve no idea either, see the Jeeves story involving the ‘Silver cow creamer’ for reference).

Yes I am an ‘it’s too hot’ bore, I don’t care if it snows when I’m working. There again, if you had a profile that makes a Toby Jug look like Twizzle you too would be.

Having enjoyed the FIFA World Cup (it’s the World Cup OK forget the FIFA crap, we all know what THE World Cup is…I know it’s because there are many other sports with World Cups and God knows 22 November 2003 is STILL the greatest sporting moment of my life but COME ON, perlease lose this PC RUBBISH!) I look forward to the new cricket series vs India and of course both the Rugby (I refuse to put Union for the same reasons as I am not in a forty odd mile radius in the north-west of England or Australia) and Football (I refuse to put ASSOCIATION…you get the gist).

Years ago, I can remember watching George Graham’s Arsenal team boring the pants off the whole country winning trophy after trophy with 1-0 results and, as a despairing Chelsea fan thinking I could do with a bit of that kind of boredom as my beloved club lurched from one disaster to another on and off the pitch, with a selection of seemingly unstable (I would have put ‘nutter’ in the old days but of course one must be careful to not alienate anybody likely to be reading this from a padded cell and drooling) people in charge, more than capable of creating mayhem and pressing the self-destruct button.

Years of subsequential success has changed all that of course, our stability is legend as we sack a series of managers who have just won the league, not to mention the Champion League (no, no UEFA here I’m afraid). My real fear is that the supremely talented and equally likeable Gianfranco Zola having just been made Assistant Coach under the new regime, will be discarded like former heroes Hollins (in fairness he did deserve it but it hurt), Vialli Di Matteo, Wilkins and more recently Cudicini.

The love affair began properly on December 27 1971, the first time Dad took us to Stamford Bridge (presumably it was the day after Boxing Day because it was a Monday? Who knows, I was 6 years old, bursting with excitement and burdened with as many badges, rosettes (God that dates me) and scarves as the old man could afford). The smell of fried onions, the crowds, the swearing and singing and the piles of police horseshit created a heady atmosphere and confirmed my love. Each season we begin with hope, and these days a fair degree of expectation which no seasoned Chelsea fan will ever get used to and we never disappoint, at least in terms of producing some surprise or another…

The rugby, well it’s going to be fascinating watching the autumn internationals against the big southern hemisphere three – we will have all the Lions and injuries fit again so there can no hiding place in the build up to the Rugby World Cup (you see, as a rugby player it hurts but you have to get real). We have backs that can play scintillating attacking rugby but without an effective pack, particularly the back row in the breakdown areas, they may as well be by the pool, necking Peronis ( in this weather I find myself thinking about ice cold Peronis like Homer thinks about Donuts – that is the yellow-faced cartoon character as opposed to the legendary author of the ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey’ in case you were worrying).

So I now contemplate the sweaty, slippery route to the pit, joint cooked and resting, actually wondering I will get any sleep tonight or be wracked with dreams of cooling waterfalls and languid days…