My wife says that my tendency to hold a grudge is by far my most unattractive feature.
(This is saying something as there isn’t exactly a shortage of unattractive features to choose from. My sister told me the other week that she uses the photo at the top of this column as the background on her laptop to keep people away from it.)
It is true, though; any slights or injustices, real or perceived, rankle with me for ages afterwards.
Years, sometimes. And I don’t need a little black book like Jack Charlton to keep a record of them either.
I harbour resentments from as long ago as my school days, in particular an incident in the dinner hall. Someone dropped a fully-laden plate on the floor with a great crash and loads of people cheered – including me, since staying full-board at holiday camps had led me to believe that cheering in such circumstances was virtually compulsory.
A teacher sitting three tables away singled me out from the crowd and made me stay behind to scrub all the tables in the hall as punishment. No one else, just me.
In later years, that teacher went on to guide me to a place at Cambridge, even arranging for me to spend a fortnight with friends of his in Normandy to polish my spoken French before the entrance exam.
But that original injustice has never been forgotten.
At my last place of work, I became known for having a ‘Wall of Grudge’ featuring members of staff who had annoyed me. Like God or FIFA Fair Play, it was something which existed as a notion rather than a visible entity, but was no less real for that; colleagues would note my darkening mood during meetings and ask, “Am I on the wall?”
One day, my work partner simply pinned up the staff phone list on the wall behind me and declared that it would save both time and uncertainty.
This trait isn’t something I’m proud of, but I don’t seem to be able to suppress it.
After all, it’s in the Baldwin genes. There have been plenty of family feuds and periods of not speaking to each other over the years, which used to upset my mum a lot – but then you do save quite a bit on presents and cards during those periods, so it’s not without its benefits.
Given my soft spot for hard feelings, I should really be savouring the ‘Week of Grudge’ we’ve got coming up with our games against Walsall and Colchester. But there’s something that doesn’t feel quite right about it.
I think it’s because the grudges feel flimsy and ridiculous, even for me. There’s no real substance to them.
When Walsall tried to blame Paul Lambert for the late postponement there (and their stewards went around doing so as soon as the game was called off, though I wasn’t sure whether they were trying to defuse or stir up the general anger), they were clearly talking nonsense.
Unless, of course, our manager is secretly Iceman from the X-Men and froze parts of the previously perfect pitch after his arrival.
To be fair to the Walsall stewards, they did allow City fans into the ground to use the toilets. Hmm – an icy pitch, and two thousand Norwich fans with bladders full of warm urine. Surely a possible solution was missed there?
But like Mick Dennis, I hope that on Tuesday night we do to Walsall what our fans could have done to their playing surface.
Then we have the Colchester game, which their chairman has made acrimonious through his childish refusal to give Norwich a larger ticket allocation, stating that he would rather see empty seats than City fans sitting on them.
“I am sorry if this decision goes down badly with the Norwich fans, who I personally have no gripe with,” he stated. If he has no gripe with us, he should have let us have the tickets.
As it is, there is now the danger of arguments and confrontations between Colchester supporters and City fans who have bought tickets for the home areas.
The Colchester ticket office staff are now trying to recall tickets they suspect might have been bought by Norwich supporters (bet they’re happy with their chairman about the extra workload), but the whole thing is an unholy and wholly unnecessary mess.
I’m not even sure why Mr Cowling is so upset with us. When Lambert left Colchester, Cowling declared: “I am confident that with the help of my fellow directors and staff I will shortly be appointing a new manager who is equally if not more talented than Paul Lambert.”
Having selected Aidy Boothroyd, he stated: “I have always been someone who is keen to improve all the time and I think we have done that with our latest choice of manager…”
So – haven’t we done him a favour?
While these grudges aren’t proper ones – the spice they will add to the games is mild chilli powder rather than hot – I suppose they will have to do until we return to the Championship and resume real rivalries.
Remember “If [Norwich] go up, they’ll come straight down. They need at least 15 new players”? Now that was a grudge.
And playing Plymouth will be more interesting now that Paul Mariner is in charge there.
I’d walk a mile and a bit for that. (Ask your dad, kids.)
And finally… I see that Colchester have released a DVD of their victory at Carrow Road at the start of the season. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose – after all, we’ve done the same thing after beating Ipswich.
In fact, I’m happy to report that you can also buy DVDs showing Colchester’s history of top-flight football here.
(If Mr Cowling wants to do childish, we can do childish.)