Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A Season In Hell

In his book, Sum, David Eagleman offers an array of different scenarios describing what might await us in the afterlife (should there be one).

In the first, he suggests that after death we might immediately begin to re-live the life that has just ended, but this time around all common activities would be grouped together and experienced in discrete blocks.

Hence, we would enjoy our entire life’s worth of showers in a single two-hundred-day-long drenching, and then bathe no more. Our lifetime allocation of pain would be endured in one excruciating stretch, and for three years we would do nothing but eat. We would sit at traffic lights, immobile, for six weeks, and for two days do nothing but tie shoelaces. And so on.

Apparently, a high-ranking official at the Premier League is an admirer of Mr. Eagleman’s book, and has become smitten with this notion in particular. In idle moments he is apt to daydream, and has begun to visualise the football season, which resides within his governance, being reorganised in such a way. However, upon receding from his fantastical reveries, and slipping reluctantly back to the intractable, Einstein-ordered world, he glumly acknowledges that such a transformation would require the ability to reconfigure human existence itself, something currently beyond his organisation’s remit.

However, emerging rumours imply that the official in question happened upon one Sepp Blatter in the washroom at an International Football soiree recently and, unable to stifle his vision any longer, confided in the FIFA president. Apparently Mr. Blatter, always enthused by innovation, promised to fully exploit his influence. So, should he manage to mobilise all his distinguished contacts, both divine and mortal, our future footballing experience might one day resemble the following:

All of a team’s home games would be grouped together and all elements thereof similarly grouped. Hence, if it currently takes you one hour to travel to the match, in this new reality you endure a nineteen-hour trip prior to kick-off.

Upon arriving at the ground you buy nineteen programmes. You then queue for fifty-seven minutes to pass through the turnstile where you undergo a nine-and-a-half minute frisk by the steward.

You queue for ninety-five minutes at a counter, where you buy nineteen drinks. Upon reaching your seat thirty-eight minutes later, the hot drinks are cold and the cold drinks are warm.

During the players’ eight-hour warm-up, the teams are announced nineteen times in a row.

After nineteen coin tosses, the referee blows his whistle for ninety-five seconds.

Immediately the team score anywhere between forty and sixty goals, one after another. The stewards struggle to repel a pitch invasion.

You then sit and watch some fourteen hours of open play. Despite periods that see over a hundred successive fouls, seventy-five corners (one-by-one), a ten-player scuffle, and a broken leg, there are no more goals.

You spend thirteen-and-a-half hours wondering why you bother watching this rubbish, and thirty minutes realising why you do.

At half-time, which lasts for four-and-three-quarter hours, you stand for thirty-eight minutes in the queue for the toilet. Once there, you urinate for nine-and-a-half minutes continuously. For four of these minutes you repeat to your neighbour how poor the team are playing, spend three minutes complaining about the referee, and two minutes staring blankly at the wall.

Back in your seat, for ninety-five minutes you watch children in one-on-ones with a goalkeeper whilst working your way through nineteen Chicken Balti pies.

A further fourteen hours of open play includes a forty-minute period of continuous substitutions, three sending offs, and possibly even a change of manager.

It concludes with you witnessing your team concede between forty and sixty goals consecutively, your torment only halted by the final, elongated, whistle.

Over the next ninety-five minutes the crowd slowly files out of the ground, while John Paintsil undertakes nineteen laps of the pitch.

After the nineteen-hour return journey home, you settle down to watch twenty-six hours straight of Match Of The Day, but have to wait until the last hour-and-a-half to see the Fulham highlights.

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