The last story to make me write about the news, I think, was the Tenerife decapitation (see bottom). Even more than grand scale disasters like tidal waves and terrorist attacks, personal tragedies of an individual nature have a habit of hooking you in. Why? we think, musing over the inner workings of the human mind. Oh Good Lordy why?
The weird thing is how long I have been trying to watch Football Focus, on BBC 1, at Saturday dinnertimes. I really can’t remember the last time I watched it. First, for a kick-off (pun alert!), I have to be at home, but that is only half the battle. Then I have to actually remember it’s on. Countless times, I’ve been in, but simply missed it, doing chores or something. By the time I remember that such-a-guy scored a sick goal in midweek and stick the TV on, it’s usually finished.
I’ve been more eager to watch Football Focus ever since Sky Sports News stopped being a freeview channel (the dirty cheating bastards!). That was enough for me, because it showed you all the goals from that footballing week, be it League, Cup, Europe or whatever. Since that stopped, I’ve lost touch.
Last Saturday I was up and in for a change with the TV on, and determined to watch Football Focus so I could catch up on some action. But there was something else on, slightly earlier, about football too. Like I say, it had been so long, I thought that maybe Football Focus had finished and this dude in tight jeans presenting some kind of CBeebies soccer trivia palaver was the replacement.
Later on, after wasting my time watching that shite, I realised that Football Focus was still on, but alas, unsurprisingly, as is per usual, I had missed it. Hang on, no, there was still ten minutes left. It was too late for all the goals, but I tuned in anyway, to see Gary Speed and Gary McAllister sat on the sofa.
I remember looking at Speed and thinking he was a stereotypical success. Already a glittering career behind him, handsome and young looking, wealth, family, manager of a national team, wet-look hairstyle…you know the rest. I distinctly remember thinking along these lines.
The next day I was lying awake in bed at around 10pm thinking should I get up to watch City at Anfield? Should I? Do I really give one either way? Oh go on then, the highlights only last ten minutes, and I wouldn’t want to miss a high-scoring scorcher.
So I gets up to see Speed’s face on a big screen in the MOTD 2 studio, and instantly, even with the telly on mute, I knew he must have died. So seeing him twice in such quick succession made it strange for me.
Then to find out about the actual method of death, on the internet – well what is there to say about that? One of the nicest, bubbliest, and, as Mark Lawrenson kept repeating, normal guys in sport swinging in the garage of his Cheshire mansion. Are they sure it’s Gary Speed? Pardon, Constable, no suspicious circumstances, you say? Ahem, ‘kay then.
Demons? Depression? Bribes? Blackmail? There’s a flood of possibilities. None of them quite make any sense. Anyone but him, you’d think, wouldn’t you? Anyone but him.
What more evidence for a devil do you need, people? the religious voices snicker.