Nearly 2 weeks in my cavernous room at the talkSPORT lodge and it's only tonight that I appear to have discovered the plug that activates the underfloor heating. Words like 'horse' 'shutting door' and 'bolted' are flashing across my mind amongst others. And those are the clean ones. Never mind - it might warm up by the time we're due to fly home next month.
Some of the clan fly home sooner than that. Alvin Martin heads home at the weekend after covering Spain/Chile with me having been terrific company as always. Nobody prepares for commentaries or phone-in shows as meticulously as Alvin does, and for a former hard man of the West Ham defence, he does a passable impression of a big softie. He'll nut me like he did Paul Ince for saying that, probably :o)
Goughy jets off very soon too and his enthusiasm and wide-eyed joy at being involved in such a fantastic tournament have been a real pleasure to see. One can only hope that the joy of playing can return to the England players in Port Elizabeth tomorrow afternoon. It is almost impossible trying to predict what England side will turn up-I believe Slovenia will be every bit as tough as the bookies' odds suggest. Moose is considering doing an interview with a local witch doctor tomorrow in order to bring the Three Lions good luck. Goughy recoiled in horror at the news and spent the next 20 minutes scaring the bejasus out of us all with tales of curses, extortion and all manner of weird mumbo-jumbo from his experience with such folk.
Moose, though, has the hide of several rhinos (I daren't try and spell the plural in full) and intends to go ahead with his quest. Intrepid doesn't even begin to describe the Moose. On out first day here, he approached the people carrier that brought Pele into a outdoor press conference and calmly grabbed the legend as he stepped into the morning air before his media officer could bat an eyelid and promptly started an interview. Wasn't long before he was man-handled away (a tough job for most) but he got answers in English out of Pele, which was more than the assembled TV and radio crews got when the presser officially started. Portuguese if you please, which had most scratching their heads wondering what had happened to a man whose command of the English language is arguably better than Fabio Capello's.
Still, that's the Moose approach - get in there with that mic and damn the consequences.
Abject surrender from the French this afternoon and the 'cheats never prosper' lines have been swift in coming from the Emerald Isle. Thierry Henry even brought a crossfield ball down with his arm in the match against South Africa for goodness sake. Is there no end? Well, it's the end for France and for the hosts too, who might've closed the goal difference gap on Mexico in Group A were it not for the heroics of Hugo Lloris in the French goal. The conspiracy theorists (you gotta love 'em) had two strands of thought; one, that Mexico & Uruguay would form a non-aggression pact and draw to send each other through - Uruguay promptly won 1-0; the second idea was that the French were going to be 'encouraged' to let South Africa win by a handsome margin that would see them qualify at Mexico's expense. Lloris clearly hadn't read that one, as he made a string of top class saves in the 2nd half.
Another red card today - this time to Yoann Gourcuff of France. Group D (the one with Germany & Ghana) has seen a red card in every match so far, leading me to say in commentary on Ghana/Australia that it was Group 'D' for 'Dismissal'. I now wish I'd then asked Adrian Durham alongside me what he thought the 'C' stood for in England's group.
I have one word in my mind that I can't seem to shift - unless they put a bloody shift in and earn 3 points. I'm not interested in you making us proud, boys - that can wait. Right now I'm only interested in you having some pride in yourselves and getting the job done.
Good luck lads - I hope my phone in after the evening games on talkSPORT tomorrow is a happy one!