Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 9/6/2006And so it starts, this long hot purgatorial summer of sport. I regardfootball as I do most religions, a personal neurosis that spills overinto group psychosis, and fine as long as it's kept well away from me.

Friday 9/6/2006

And so it starts, this long hot purgatorial summer of sport. I regard football as I do most religions, a personal neurosis that spills over into group psychosis, and fine as long as it's kept well away from me.

This is now impossible. The chances of watching television, listening to the radio, reading a newspaper or talking to someone in the office without footbloodyball coming into it are, and will be, effectively zero. All the great pleasures in life – the quiet pint on a Sunday afternoon in the pub, the gentle murmur of Radio 4 in the background, a nice walk on the Heath in the sun – will be poisoned. Even bastard Google has changed its logo.

I had thought that I still had one surefire escape – amateur radio. Radio hams are not as other men: with few exceptions, they avoid sport in word and deed. While there are many subspecies of ham – insomniac octogenarians talking about their tomato plants, hyperactive Italians sending dodgy pictures by slow-scan TV, lugubrious Japanese discussing the finer points of aerial erection – Homo Radioactivii Sportiv is rare to the point of extinction.

So, picture the scene. I am locked away in my Swedish chicken shed, taking a break from the project. I fire up the ham radio gear, and try and find someone to talk to on the twenty metre band. Conditions are poor – as they have been for a while – and most of the contacts are between stations with kilowatts of power and aerials that resemble Blackpool Tower. I have a weak little battery operated transmitter and a few feet of wire, so it's tough going.

Then someone comes back to my call. We exchange signal reports, our impression of the quality of propagation, station details and so on, and then I mention that he's got a rather odd callsign. "Ah yes," he says, “I'm operating a special event station from Berlin. We're at the football stadium, to celebrate the World Cup.”

"Oh... lovely," I say. "Well, I really must be going"

But he's warming to his spiel.

"There are twenty six special district stations, and twelve stadium stations," he goes on, " and if you work enough of them you can get a special diploma."

"Sorry," I say. "Interference. Bzzz bzz bzz. Bye now..." (actually what I say is "Too much QR Mexico OM, thx fer contact, 73s, QRT", but that seems a bit silly in print).

So it proves. They're everywhere. I switch off the wireless and stare out of the window.

It's going to be tough.

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