Una, due, tre - flash goalie caught knitting

... sorry, netting. Deborah Ross detects a pattern of excuses

Look, please excuse me if, at times, I come out with complete nonsense here. But I have recently been watching rather too much daytime telly - in particular, I have become hopelessly addicted to Una Stubb's knitting slot on This Morning. As a result, my mind has become most horribly befuddled, knit-one, pearl-one, pass slipped stitch over ... oh dear, see what I mean?

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that if my performance is under par, then blaming the lovely Una (who also, by the way, makes splendid crafty things from felt) is a bit of a poor excuse.

I mean, if I'm going to cast on and then do some very fine cable stitching down the front ... sorry, I'll start that again. I mean, if I'm going to turn in a rubbish performance, why don't I just give the standard excuses: "ohhhh, I've got a headache"; "ohhh, I've got food poisoning"; "ohhh, I left it on the bus and then the dog ate it." Well, it's because these excuses are terribly old hat and just won't do any more. One must be considerably more inventive these days to be very believed. Or so it would seem.

Consider, if you will, the case of David James, the Liverpool goalie who let in three goals against Newcastle recently. His poor performance, he now says, was entirely due to playing too many Nintendo computer games before the match.

"I realise now that computer games affected my performance," he says. "I was getting carried away playing Tekkon II and Teamrider ... goalkeepers need their concentration ... and that might be dulled by playing too many computer games before a match."

Of course, as someone who suffers from a similar distracting condition, I sympathise fully with Mr James, and have written to him to tell him so. However, I did add that he should consider himself lucky it was Nintendo and not Una, because, as I put it to him in my letter, "had you been thinking of the complexities involved in a fair isle tank-top with a seven-way colour combination, you would have probably let 157 goals in. Warmest stitches, Deborah Ross."

In fact, now I think about it, it's been quite a week of rich excuses one way or another, hasn't it? Another example? OK, what about Sir Nicholas Scott, who turned up at the annual Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association Ball with a black eye, which he then blamed on tumbling from a train and missing the No 9 knitting needle ... sorry, platform.

"It was only a tiny station and he climbed down in a hurry," explained his wife. "The train was too long for that station ... now he has a bump over his head and a black eye."

And, finally what of Bill Clinton, who tore a knee tendon when he stumbled on some steps at Greg Norman's Florida home? Apparently, Mr Clinton had, prior to the accident, simply been enjoying "a late-night chat" with the millionaire Australian golfer. Late-night chats do, indeed, do terrible things to your balance. Doubt it? Well, just look at Oliver Reed, George Best, Hurricane Higgins ... they're always falling down a lot after late- night chats, aren't they? And they're always moaning: "Ow! My head. I shouldn't have stayed up for such as late-night chat."

In short, I do wonder what kind of idiots all these people take us for. Do they imagine we're all one stitch short of a full jumper? No, don't answer. Just stand still while I measure the arms up against you ... damn, they're too long. What was I thinking of?

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