Is it just me, or are we all condemned to turn into the very people we once disdained?
And does that initial disdain stem from the dim awareness that we are likely to turn into those people one day � just as we are apt to condemn others most strongly for failings we know ourselves to have?
I've been thinking about this stuff quite a lot lately � partly because the continuing lack of a job is leaving me with far too much time on my hands, but mainly because I missed the Ipswich match.
There's no getting away from the painful truth: I am now a part-time supporter.
My attitude towards the part-timers used to be hardline to say the least.
During my unbroken 11-year run of games (which isn't intended to be a boast, as I'm well aware there are City fans who haven't missed a match since Boudicca welcomed the visiting Romans with a battle-cry of 'Is that all you take away?'), I remember being particularly scornful of a chapter in the Nick Hornby-edited My Favourite Year.
Written by DJ Taylor (novelist, critic, biographer and sometime head boy at my old school), the chapter described City's 92-93 season � but he admitted that he didn't go to the crucial home game against Man United. That, I thought, disqualified his opinion; if he were a true fan, he would have found a way to make it to the match.
Now, however, my high horse has gone lame and been put down. If I can't find a way to get to the biggest home game of the season, what sort of fan am I?
The problem I had was that my wife also had something arranged for the afternoon of the Ipswich clash. Lengthy, er, discussions over which was more important failed to resolve the issue, so in the end it was settled on a technicality; that is, who had written it on the kitchen calendar first.
My argument that the fixture list that's been on the fridge door since the end of June is in effect my social calendar was deemed invalid.
�I knew I should have insisted on having 'obey' in our marriage vows,� I made the mistake of saying. If you think Glenn Roeder's attempts at humour fall flat�
Frantic attempts to find a baby-sitter ended in failure, so I ended up taking the children with me to the house of a friend who has Sky.
To their credit, they stayed very quiet and still during the match (note to self: buy more parcel tape) and I got to watch the full, fabulous 90 minutes on the box.
Of course, it doesn't compare to being there. But a few friends thoughtfully e-mailed the following day and described at length what a terrific occasion I'd missed. (Funny how they never get in touch after a dismal defeat to tell me I made the right decision not to go.)
I should point out before you start humming the opening bars of Under My Thumb (which I will now have no trouble recognising in the highly unlikely event that I'm ever invited on Never Mind The Buzzcocks) that my wife and I do have a mature give-and-take relationship.
On the Wednesday evening, I went to the Watford game while she stayed at home, missing out on the Christmas get-together for the parents of children in our daughter's school class.
To my relief, I didn't get any pitying looks and shakes of the head from friends I saw at Vicarage Road. But to my surprise, I did get dirty looks from some mothers when I took my daughter to school the next morning.
Eventually, one mum had a quiet word with me. It turns out that when my wife e-mailed her reply to the party invitation, saying she wouldn't be able to go because I was off to the football, she clicked on the 'Reply to All' button.
I think this was accidental rather than deliberate� but the fact remains that at the very time when I'm feeling like a part-time supporter, I have 29 women looking at me in the school-yard every day thinking I'm a heartless pig who puts his football obsession ahead of his wife's social life. Oh, the irony.
Last Saturday was my daughter's fifth birthday. Of course, anyone choosing to put football ahead of a big occasion like that really would be a heartless pig.
Still, she didn't seem too upset with me when I got back from Reading just in time for her bed-time story.
It probably helped that I came home in reasonable spirits. The result was disappointing, obviously. As was the late, dodgy penalty decision. And the lack of a recognised striker in the starting line-up. And the injury to John Kennedy.
But apart from that�
I've seen plenty of City displays over the years where there's been no spirit, no clue and no hope � but this wasn't one of them.
The players scrapped when they had to and played when they could (and very well too, on a mudbath of a pitch). If we carry on like that, we should be OK.
This optimism is another thing which would have attracted derision from my younger self (and is still likely to from some message boards). For a long time, I was more than disdainful of anyone upbeat and positive; to me, it always suggested simple-mindedness and a failure to grasp the reality of the situation.
It took me longer than it should have done to realise that in most cases, a positive outlook is a conscious decision which often requires considerable effort.
True, there are some (admittedly slightly annoying) people who are always chirpy by nature � but for the majority, it's not an easy task to conceal the quiet desperation. At times the effort can border on the heroic.
Those message-board posters who deride the 20,000+ City fans who still turn up to home games (when we can�) and support the team as 'happy-clappy Delia devotees', 'sheep' and even 'mugs' have got it badly wrong.
We're all too aware of the situation we're in, and of the mistakes made by the board and the manager; no one is under the illusion that everything is fine and dandy.
But boos, protests and boycotts aren't going to make things any better. Trying to stay positive, on the other hand, might just help.
And finally� it made me smile when I overheard a City fan call Carl Cort 'Ameobi' at the Madejski. Not because it was a mistake, but because I'm sure it was a reference to a classic remark by Sir Bobby Robson. You've probably heard it before, but just in case�
Journalist to Shola Ameobi: “So Shola, do you have a nickname at the club?”
Ameobi: “Not really, no.”
“What do the lads call you?”
“What does Bobby Robson call you?”