Saturday 5 January

First footerballing action of the year for the mighty Periscopes sees Brian Gaffa introducing me for Growler as we lead 2-0. Mistaking him for a particularly static tree, Growler, deserted by his owl, has been methodically hacked in the shins by one of the Villa until finally reduced to firewood; an unsuccessful spell up front leading the bench to fear dry rot and possible identity crisis to boot. Having hidden my own sufficiently I trot on, soon to be roared at by what I take to be a hostile tribe of mudmen, presumably irate that our game is taking place across their natural midfield habitat. To finally recognise them as Venables and Temple is a relief, though I’m convinced that at times their uncivilised bellows propel the ball further from my feet than a poor first touch alone. Villa’s goalcreature resumes ownership of his lair and soon our sodden, unsevered limbs begin to tire. The final 2-3 scoreline is testimony to our opposition’s brutal skill and is in no way connected to my appearance, most agree.

My brother, Barton, visits for luncheon and we plump for a Chinese all-you-can-eat pie restaurant on Oxford Road. Some of the fillings are a little exotic so we feast mainly on the pastry, leaving a colourful mess on our plates that reminds me of a particularly lurid post-colonial map of Africa I once saw hanging upside-down in the town hall. We catch up on old times and new – I have agreed to manage, with a twirl of the ‘tache and a twinkle in the eye, the band for which he tub-thumps. But soon I must excuse myself. Having eaten sufficient to amply demonstrate to any wench my fullness as a man I now await an imminent carrier from Tattetta. Like most things imminent, however, it proves mminent and I spend the remainder of the day conjuring up past glories via the hookah.

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