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Another world - another cup fever.

They say that if you think you're going mad then you're not but does the same rule apply to defining whether or not you are an extraterrestrial or a fully paid-up member of the human race?

Yes, it's that time again when the World Cup puts the susceptible under its mass hypnosis while the rest of us are left scratching our antennae and bleeping "it's life Jim, but not as we know it."

A four-yearly event that registers a long, silent flatliner on the interest Richter scale for none but a few, it is a time when some of us live in the concept and the reality of this alien nation.

Now don't go telling me about "off" buttons and such like for in every gin joint, supermarket, pub, club and even fashion shop there's total saturation of football and World Cup fever.

There is nowhere to hide. There is nowhere to run.

I'll admit to being an avid fan of the opening title sequence of Match of The Day. With so many homo erotic images, the sort rarely seen this side of Zipper magazine or the Village People videos it is an opportunity few red-blooded women and pink blooded males could pass up. But that's about it. It used to be that football occupied winter television and cricket and tennis the summer, but now it seems to be on 52 weeks a year.

Enough already. This isn't going to be yet another think piece about football's new cred, its Nick Hornby-fied cool, or that the rise in its popularity is in direct correlation to the lowering of man's role in society.

Let's leave that to the eggheads.

What occasions like this do to the few who aren't caught up in the hyperbole is make you feel excluded from society. Frankly, I love it.

Women get off lightly here. We're not expected to like football or sport. Spare a thought, though, for the handful of guys who have to go through the crushing confession that they'd rather eat cat litter than watch the new deity Shearer do his stuff.

If you fall into the latter category then cheer yourself with the thought that you occupy the niche of the exquisite elite and accept that the ecstasy that inspires the masses will be forever lost on you.

If you have ever sat in front of Barrymore and Family Fortunes or listened to Celine Dion, U2 or Meatloaf in a state of nonplussed numbness you'll know that it is a small price to pay.

Which brings me seamlessly to Gaynor Regan. A woman who knows what it's like to be in a fan club of one and as such the new Mrs Robin Cook II deserves some grudging praise.

As a child who was into Sinatra while others played with Sindy and as the first punk in my neck of London, more spat against than spitting, I understand the isolation of the uncommon denominator.

When he of the Hobbit features emerged from the register office in an anorak, newly-wed and inappropriately punching the air, Robin Cook was every bit Disgusting from Tunbridge Wells. A man so ugly he could be twinned with Castle Vale.

Gaynor deserved a medal not a wedding ring for her devotion.

We were all non-believing, incredulous onlookers to their gang of two, the Big Match but with no supporters.

Last week she looked like the condemned woman at their first public engagement at the Lord Mayor's Easter banquet held in London. As the only human being, apart from wife number one, to see beyond the Foreign Secretary's nasal know-all twang and nature-d efying jawline that is miraculously subsiding upwards, she cut an isolated figure.

I say good luck to her and all the others who know that occasionally the majority vote counts for nothing and contrary to popular belief minorities are not always victims.
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Author:Rice, Carole Ann
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 27, 1998
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