This wasn't the blog post I originally intended to write. I had already started on one about the fabulous benefits of free writing when I got distracted by the internet (not an uncommon occurrence in my working day) and, in particular, these words on the BBC News website:
'Sky says the 40-year-old will "get the help he needs to guarantee something like this never happens again".' (The Telegraph also has this as a headline.)
In case you haven't yet come across this story, the above sentence refers to the action that Jamie Carragher (the ex-Liverpool FC player and now suspended Sky Sports pundit) took when he was being harassed by a driver, which was captured on video.
'Unlucky Jamie lad'
Andy Hughes, a Manchester United fan, spotted Carragher in his car as he drew alongside him on the road. Hughes appears to be driving and filming at the same time, which is an issue in itself, and he follows Carragher for a while. At one point you can hear his daughter (who turns out to be just 14 years old) in the seat next to Hughes saying 'Stop it' as her dad points Carragher out again and then continues calling to him. Both men then wind their windows down and Hughes shouts out '2-1 mate, unlucky Jamie lad, 2-1 lad!' (This was in reference to Liverpool's 2-1 defeat that day by Man U.)
If you're a committed football fan then it's really annoying when your team lose and even more irritating when your friends take the mickey out of you about it but part of the very nature of people supporting different teams is a bit of rivalry. Ok, Hughes was being an idiot by doing it while driving and even more bloody stupid for not paying proper attention and holding a camera up while behind the wheel but he wasn't being aggressive or offensive. Annoying and stupid yes, but what Carragher did next was downright disgusting: he spat at the occupants of Hughes' car. Remember his 14 year old daughter, sat in the passenger seat (i.e. the seat closest to Carragher's vehicle)? She caught the worst of it.
Since then, Carragher has, quite rightly, apologised, both publicly and to the family themselves and described it as 'the worst mistake he has made in his career' (note: not 'life'...'career'.). Sky has, also quite rightly, suspended him until the end of the season.
I don't know what was going on in Carragher's head at the time but, aside from the fact that I can't understand how spitting in the direction of a child could be something that is conceivable to even a half-decent human being - there's no level of anger, provoked or otherwise that makes spitting a justifiable reaction EVER - what bothers me most about the whole thing is that sentence on the BBC News site.
Carragher will 'get help' to stop him spitting at people. Really? Is learning how not to spit at teenagers truly something you need assistance with, Jamie? You simply can't help hurling saliva at anybody who says something you don't like? Aaah, bless: it must be terrible, living with that uncertainty that you might not be able to stop yourself unleashing a mouthful of drool over the next unsuspecting stranger that passes by.
Is therapy the answer, Jamie?
Before you fork out thousands of pounds for an expensive anger management treatment, though, why don't you try the radical (and free) technique that I use to avoid getting into exactly this kind of situation? It's pretty easy, actually, and you don't need to hide away for several weeks in The Priory to master it. You just...don't spit at people. That's all! You remind yourself that it's vile, not acceptable under any circumstances and that there is no defect in your genetic make-up that means you can't control your compulsion to do it - and you keep your mouth shut! Give it a go now, Jamie: I guarantee you'll get the hang of it if you try hard. I manage to not spit at anybody every single day!
Because saying you'll 'get help' is such a pathetic cop-out. You see it all the time when anybody does something they shouldn't, particularly when it comes to issues like sexual assault: 'So-and-so is sorry for any hurt caused and is determined to get the help he ('cos let's face it...) needs to stop this behaviour.' That may sound like they're accepting that they've done something wrong but they're not; they're saying that they have some kind of condition that's really not their fault and they need professional assistance to help them stop doing it.
Not groping a woman at a charity event, not showing your penis to somebody when they haven't consented to you doing so and not spitting at somebody when you're a bit cross that your team have lost aren't things that you should need help not to do. Just don't do them. There: not hard, is it?
Surely you can give spitting the red card?
So, multi-millionaire Jamie, while I'm sure it will be hard for you to cope with losing two whole month's Sky salary, you're probably a bit worried about your reputation as well. Well, while there isn't any justification at all for spitting at a teenager from the comfort of your expensive car just because their dad said something a bit mean about your bestest football team, you'd come out of the whole horrible situation a lot better if you donated a HUGE amount of money to the daughter's favourite charity, offered to clean the Hughes' car by hand and promised that you'd never spit at somebody again, without pretending that you need help to achieve that goal.
Because you don't need anybody's help to not spit at somebody ever again. You just need to be a decent human being.