April 15, 2004

D.B. writes

I’m having problems with the papers. They all says that I’ve been naughty but I ain’t. I’m just a bloke what likes kicking a ball around but there’s these girls, right, who’ve been talking about my tackle and the wife’s been on at me. I dunno what to do.

Mark replies:

Well, D.B., may I say first of all what a privilege it is to be answering your letter. (If you could see your way to sending me a signed shirt, that would be just lovely.)

Onto your letter. And I have to say that the wounds are mostly self-inflicted. For years you have been a successful footballer, more recently transferring from one high-profile team to another where your work rate and commitment to chasing down lost causes have been noted and appreciated by all. You represent your country at the highest level and on the biggest stage, and you carry the hopes of millions when you travel out to Portugal later in the summer to captain your team.

But I know that underneath that playboy Leytonstone-boy-done-good hair-obsessed exterior, there beats the heart of a megalomaniacal tyrant, with an ego the size of my overdraft. I think you wanted to get caught. It’s easy to make jibes about Goldenballs, playing away and going down in the box, but I’m pretty sure that secretly – deep down somewhere in your conscious or subconscious – you’re laughing along with the rest of us.

And herein is the problem. The astute business-savvy, multiple-sponsored, exclusive-granting, media centre of attention side of you is dismayed though slightly happy that the stupid, barely-articulate, clothes horse side of you is getting his comeuppance. By day, you train or play for 90 minutes, whipping in crosses, tracking back and covering the defence, running up the right flank and generally bossing the midfield. But by night, when you plan your next autobiography or bathe in a marble bath filled with banknotes, you become evil, your mind turned by the pretty girls which your wealth and looks give you access to.

However, I can only blame you so much. Let’s face it, when you were a young, single player, all you concentrated on was your football. Now, however, things have changed. And the answer is simple: your shrewish, talentless wife. You know what you have to do, D.B.; in fact, you’ve always known. Just make sure that the kids don’t see you dragging her body into the cellar. You can always claim to the media that she’s off launching a new album. No-one’ll delve too deeply.