Hello all, I'm back. I'm refreshed, recuperated , re-energised and several other things that begin with "R" as well. And, as a copy of El Camino is in my possession, I'll be doing my top ten albums of the year in a couple of days -shortly after my worst albums of the year, there's some crackers in that one- and this post which is neccessarily sombre in tone.
In the space of little more than a week, 3 of my favourite sportsmen ever have died.
Last weekend former Everton captain Gary Speed took his own life, seemingly with everything to live for. He was 42. Gary was a husband, father, gentlemen and an Evertonian. That's as fitting an epitaph as you can have.
A couple of days after Gary, Rugby League great Arthur Beetson passed away from a heart attack, aged 66.
In a sport filled with remarkable athletes and tough men, Artie was the most remarkable, the toughest, and -in his position- the best.
Just to let you know how good he was, he played for Queensland and I still loved him-that's something no-one else has managed since.
And this weekend, brazilian football legend Socrates has died. He was a chain smoker, a qualified doctor and , in a time where the word is overused to describe people , he was truly unique. He was a big man -maybe 6'4- yet he danced and skipped around the pitch with more grace than any footballer I've seen before or after, he had a mass of curly hair, often enhanced with a bandana and a raggedy beard. He was also one of the shining lights of the best national team I've ever seen.