Now where was I? Oh yes, Fernando Torres.
I mentioned in last month’s column that I was fascinated by his complete loss of form, though I ran out of space in which to explain why and explore further.
The reason is that I find myself identifying with his situation, albeit at a much lower and (thankfully) less public level.
It’s not that I’ve lost the ability to score goals too; I never had that ability to lose. My loss is an everyday one; namely, a greatly diminished ability to concentrate and to absorb new information. It also appears that whatever critical faculties and whatever creative spark I once had have largely deserted me.
I don’t know whether this is simply down to aging or to laziness or whether I’m suffering from a male version of ‘momnesia’. But I do want to know if there’s any chance of getting back to where I was.
Somehow, Torres has become something of a test case for me. If he can rediscover his lost form, perhaps there’s still a chance I could do the same.
Oh, I know it’s probably foolish to look to football for parallels – even though it’s always my first port of call when looking for analogies. Examples from other walks of life are likely to be more relevant. And as coincidence would have it, I keep finding them wherever I look at the moment.
I came across three last Sunday alone. First, there was an interview with Gary Barlow in the Observer in which he described the depths of despair to which he descended when Take That finished and his solo career flopped:
“I had this beautiful white piano, my lucky piano. Every hit I’d had I’d written on this piano. Within six months of this not happening any more, this piano drove me mad. To the point where I spent days just looking at it, lying underneath it, lying on top of it, rubbing my face on it, going slowly insane, trying to work out why this thing wasn’t delivering to me like it used to.”
In the same newspaper, there was a transcript of the address given by Steve Jobs to Stanford University students in 2005. He talked about the time he was fired by Apple, the company he had co-created:
“So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to do for a few months… I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from The Valley…”
And on Sunday evening, I chanced upon ‘U2: From the Sky Down’, a fascinating documentary on BBC1 about the making of the band’s album Achtung Baby. Whatever your views on U2’s music, and on Bono’s pomposity and self-importance, I’d recommend a look on iPlayer while it’s still available.
It turns out that for a long while, they were completely lost. It was only when they stumbled across the chord sequence for ‘One’ while struggling on a different track that they finally found their way again.
All of these people managed to recapture their spark – so there is hope. And the factors that helped them to do so were a slice of luck, perseverance and time. (Hmm… if my decline is down to aging, time probably isn’t going to help.)
It’s all the sweeter when you enjoy success after losing it, though. Gary Barlow again:
“Even when I look back on my down years, I think: thank God that happened. What kind of character would I have been now if it had all been smooth and great and brilliant?”
And Steve Jobs:
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Though of course no Norwich fan needs telling about how satisfying it is to rise again from the depths.
So we came for our scarves at Old Trafford. (Top marks to whoever came up with that song, by the way, with an honourable mention to the bright spark who started the chorus of ‘My garden shed is bigger than this…’)
As it turned out, though, there were very few yellow and green scarves on display in the home sections of the stadium. Whether this indicates a general waning in the anti-Glazer campaign, or whether the United fans were reluctant to wear our colours when we visited, I’m not sure.
What I did notice, however, was a significant number of half-and-half scarves being worn; scarves featuring both United and Norwich colours, and the date of the match. I’d seen similar Chelsea-Norwich scarves on sale outside Stamford Bridge earlier this season, but hadn’t really given them much thought.
I remember that there was a brief craze some years ago for scarves bearing the colours of clubs from different countries. In some cases there was a particular connection (a loose right-wing alliance between Chelsea and Rangers supporters, a celebration of the Dalglish link between Liverpool and Celtic), but often there wasn’t.
These new scarves, though, are a different matter. I can’t imagine that regular followers of any club would want to wear the colours of another team in the same league. And the fact that the date of the fixture is woven in means that the scarves are unlikely to be worn more than once.
I suspect that they’re being bought principally by tourist supporters making a rare visit to the grounds in question; people who, sadly, don’t quite get it.
Rather like the chap I saw on the tube as I was heading up to Old Trafford, in fact. He was sporting a Boston Red Sox top and a New York Yankees cap. Now I’m no expert on American rounders, but even I’m aware that there’s a bitter rivalry between the two teams.
Wearing those two items together was as big a no-no as wearing a Norwich shirt and an Ipswich hat.
Or a Liverpool-United half-and-half scarf, for that matter. Wonder if there’ll be any on sale at Anfield on Saturday?
And finally… did anyone else notice that on the evening of the Saturday when we won 2-1 at Bolton, the guests on the (pre-recorded) Jonathan Ross Show on ITV1 reflected the score exactly?
There were two City fans in Stephen Fry and Hugh Jackman, together with Bolton boy Peter Kay.
Let’s hope they’ve got Myleene Klass, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Cilla Black lined up for Saturday week.