Gary Day

July 14, 2006

Here is Gary Link-Up. He is a very rare Englishman because he has actually scored in a penalty shoot-out. He is hosting a post-match discussion with Alan Handsome, Alan "land one on him" Shearer and Ian Right. Who knows, he might be.

Gary speaks first. "So that's it then. Another defeat. The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association won. We've heard from some of the players, Natfhe and AUT (TUNA FEAT), complaining about the opposition's tactics and the weather. They were exhausted by the heat and couldn't give their all.

What do you think, Alan Handsome?" (As he asks the question, Gary thinks "your name may be Handsome but it's my face that's gorgeous".) "You've got to worry about the team more than the temperature,"

says Alan, secretly rejoicing at Gary's grey locks. "The problem is that TUNA FEAT have got no defence. They started the first half pretty solid and Ucea couldn't find a way to break them down. I agree about Ucea's tactics - cynical. They wound up TUNA FEAT with all that talk of how there would be extra money and when they said there wasn't any it was no surprise they retaliated. I'm sure I saw one vice-chancellor wink at the bench."

"I couldn't agree more," said the other Alan, thumping the chair. He knew he was beaten in the beautiful stakes and so went for macho of the day.

"Those two have got to play together in the various leagues back home. How are they going to top 'the university with most concrete' table if they behave like this in industrial disputes? It creates bad feeling. If they'd done that to me, I'd have landed one on them when I got back to the training ground."

Gary wants the audience to appreciate just how sophisticated he is compared with Alan, so asks him another question.J "Terry Venerable has remarked that TUNA FEAT fell at the slightest tackle.

Do you think they went down too easily?"

"It's a man's game, so you've got to expect physical contact."

Oh dear. Alan is so very rough. Gary gently reminds him that it's actually a people sport. But it's no good because Alan is from the North. They do things differently there.

With a winning smile, which is about the only winning thing an Englishman can produce, Gary changes the subject. He turns to Ian Right, shielding his eyes against the glare of his shirt. "TUNA FEAT didn't play with any conviction. Ian, what do you think was the reason?"

"Well, I can't understand it, you know? The boys and girls knew what was at stake, but didn't seem to have the bottle. They lost the ball too often and lacked penetration. But you've got to feel sorry for the two up front, Hunt and Kline. They just weren't getting the service from the midfield. I don't think they were the right pairing, you know? There's been some talk of tension in the dressing room."

"Alan Handsome," said Gary, "why do you think TUNA FEAT don't seem able to rise to the big occasion?"

"Since the Sixties, the country has lost belief in itself for all sorts of reasons. It doesn't know what it stands for. There's no direction. You saw that in TUNA FEAT'sJ wayward passing."

Gary was worried that Alan sounded more intelligent than he did, so turned to Ian. "I'm repeating myself, you know, but we haven't got any strikers,"

said Ian, or perhaps it was his shirt, it was difficult to tell which was talking the loudest.

"So where does TUNA FEAT need to go from here?"

Alan Handsome was about to speak, but Gary thought the camera had seen far too much of him already. He turned to the other Alan.

"Land one on anyone," was his helpful advice. Ian had a new way of saying what he'd already said, but didn't get the chance to use it as that damned Alan Handsome would not be denied.

"The new name is a help," he started, with Gary looking furiously on. "UCU is much easier to say. The boys and girls are shaping up nicely. And there are quite a few who want to play on the left, which solves an old problem; provided they don't keep the ball to themselves."

Before he gets into his stride, Gary cuts him off. "I'm afraid that's all we've got time for," he says.

Aware that many ladies tune in just to see him smile, Gary decides to finish with an adapted quote from a classic weepy. "Why ask for the World Cup when we have the stars?" he says enigmatically. Suddenly he fiddles with his earpiece. There's a piece of late news. Apparently, Ucea has indeed more cash available. They thought it was all over. It's not now.

Gary Day is principal lecturer in English at De Montfort University.

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