Hang ups

19th December 1997 at 00:00
At a very young age I decided against becoming a professional footballer. There were two main reasons, I suppose. For one thing, I didn't like the restrictions imposed by the 2-3-5 approach that characterised the British game in the early Sixties, and, for another, I was totally devoid of any footballing talent.

Don't get me wrong - when it came to jostling referees, blowing my nose through my fingers, or sharing a bottle of Tequila with Georgie Best, I undoubtedly had the potential to get to the top. It was kicking I was never very good at. Show me a ball and an open goal, and there was a good chance that not only would I miss the goal, but also miss the ball.

So instead of playing the game, Eric - my equally ungifted chum - and yours truly spent our Saturdays following the fortunes of Haverfordwe st AFC. We regarded ourselves supporters, although "support" wouldn't have seemed the obvious word to describe our particular contribution. We simply stood on the touch-line hurling continuous abuse - not at the opposition, but at our own side. We were viciously forthright in our comments, scathing in our criticism, remorseless in condemning anything which didn't match our high standards. We would have claimed that we were simply being cruel to be kind.

But the players didn't always see it that way. When you are a semi-pro, not in the peak of condition, playing for an unfashionable team that is struggling at the bottom of the Welsh league, you can live without another wet Saturday afternoon being blighted by a venomous duet delivered by a brace of manifestly ataxic know-alls.

It proved too much for one plump and asthmatic 40-something in the Number 7 shirt. He wheezed as he dribbled down the wing, with us bellowing our usual gratuitous advice. And then he stopped. Picked up the ball. Walked purposefully towards us. We were suddenly lost for words. Eric, who hardly reached up to the player's waist, shared with me the same compelling urge to cast our eyes downward and examine the wellies that our mummies made us wear on wet days. The ball was sodden, mud-encrusted and leather - a lethal weapon. The winger bounced it on Eric's head. And did so again and again and again.

He used each successive bounce to punctuate a speech which Eric couldn't hear above his blubbering but which I will never forget. "Unless you are prepared to get out there and do it yourself, it would be best for you to keep your gob buttoned." I should add that nearly every one of his words was modified by an adjective or adverb - the same adjective or adverb in each case - one which the editor would most certainly delete.

I have told the story because this is the last of these weekly Hangups columns in which, for the past eight years, I have made it abundantly clear that I am the world's leading authority on information and communications technology in education. I now want to confess that it's easy to It's worth remembering that fact next time you meet a mouthy school inspector. Claiming to offer you "support", he will point out to you that there is insufficient differentiation in your ICT lessons or that your pupils are a tad woolly when it comes to spreadsheets. If he does, remember that No 7. Choosing your adjectives carefully, remind him that, as far as you are concerned, unless he is prepared to get out there and does it himself, you are not really terribly interested in what he has to say. If he persists with his criticisms, you could always grab the nearest computer and bounce it on his head.

* arnoldevans@easynet. co.uk

Arnold Evans returns on January 9 with a page in The TES's new Online Education magazine

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