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Scotch a day keeps the doctor away
Take a close look next time you see the oldest man in Britain on the TV news. He's usually 108, invariably from Scotland and inevitably is holding a glass of Scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other. "Crikey", I mutter to myself. "I've got a few years left then".
I keep a bottle of Famous Grouse by the side of my armchair in the lounge at home and take a medicinal glass or three each evening - and I cadge the odd Benson and Hedges from visiting family or friends for a quick puff on the balcony of our apartment in order to pursue this dual life-enhancing "diet".
Age consciousness has,I am afraid, hit me as li'l ol' Barnet FC have slumped into the relegation zone in Division 2 and our weekly football "fix" consists of wishing the next 90 minutes away to find out if we have won or lost.
"How are you?" I am asked. "Let you know at 4.50 p.m." I reply.
Sometimes at the end of a game I feel like the oldest man in Britain. At Barnet we've got a 41-year-old striker in the team the players call "Grandad"; goodness knows what they call me when I'm not on the team coach with them.
The days when policemen started to look young have long since gone. I've even survived women getting up on the Underground to offer me their seats. Now I waste my life away waiting for the man with a whistle to end the ordeal of battling relegation. Perhaps I should prepare to retire to Scotland to enjoy a tilt at being called on by the TV cameras as the oldest man in Britain.
Referees blowing a finale to a game after 90 minutes reminds me of a classic story from my days as a young football writer, albeit not one that got published.
In the post-war days of the 1940s a London team travelled to play a game in East Anglia. One of the side, who lived in the Midlands, travelled across country from home to meet up with the rest of the team.
He told the manager that the referee, who lived in the same town as him, had travelled to the game with him and wondered if he could have a couple of complimentary tickets.
"Leave it to me", said the manager, who promptly produced two tickets and placed them inside two £5 notes. He then marched off to the referee's room.
The Londoners established a 1-0 lead but, as the game wore on, came increasingly under the cosh. After one bout of severe pressure in the Londoners' penalty area with minutes to go, the visiting manager ran to the touchline.
"Ref, ref", he shouted against the roar of the crowd. Eventually his call was heard and the referee looked in his direction.
"Blow your ------ whistle, ref", shouted the manager. Without so much as a quick look at his watch, the referee blew a loud blast to signal an unexpected away win.
None of the characters mentioned above bears any resemblance to any living person - like I told the Premier League at the time of their "bungs" investigation I have been present when brown paper envelopes have been handed over, I have been told what is inside them - but I couldn't go into court and lay an accusation.
NOTE: The ageing process has not been helped by being trapped in the lift at our flats for 45 minutes, accompanied by a pregnant daughter, a nearly three-year-old grand-daughter and a claustrophobic friend.
This is the fourth time since Christmas that I have been trapped, each time with a claustrophobic companion. My advice to anyone caught the same way is not to attempt humour. "I suppose there's no chance of a cigarette then" does not get a laugh in an enclosed space.