I should point out, when discussing my mother’s supernatural tendencies, that she was not a superstitious woman and nor did she jump at shadows. On one particular holiday, when I was around ten years old, we stayed in a cottage in Bacton in Norfolk, one of a pair which was known as Coastguard Cottages. It was a rural area and the weather was beautiful; we had a great holiday.

On one particularly beautiful evening, my mum decided to go for a walk along a path which led along the coast from the village and I went with her. The path led after a while between reed beds where the reeds were growing perhaps six feet tall, so we were walking along a corridor between walls of softly swaying, rustling reeds which were taller than our heads. I was a nervous child and the Cybermen had just made an appearance on Dr Who; I was irrationally terrified that a Cyberman would step out of the reeds and kill me and mum. I felt too embarrassed to say this to her, so just complained that I was scared that “something” would come out of the reeds, and that maybe we should go back. Mum just laughed at me and said that I could go back if I wanted but she was going on. I can still remember being torn between my desire to go back to where it was “safe” and my reluctance to leave my mum to be murdered by imaginary Cybermen.

More tomorrow.  But now! The Footballing Fact Of The Day!
Adidas, makers of the official football of the World Cup, spend a great deal of time ensuring that each World Cup has a new ball which is better than the one before. The balls they produce have to meet exacting standards; each one has to be within certain tolerances for size, sphericality (really), consistency and height of bounce, maintenance of an acceptable level of pressure over a set period of time and water take-up. It is fairly well-known that the ball of the 2010 World Cup, the Jabulani, was widely criticised by players and officials for its unpredictability in the air. What is not widely known is the reason for this; it appears that the process Adidas put in place to produce the ball started with the name. Due to a horrible mix-up involving Spell-check and an inexperienced intern, the technical team were at first directed to produce a Jumbalaya and thus wasted nearly two years trying to find a way to make a meat and seafood based Louisiana gumbo bounce.
That was The Footballing Fact Of The Day. I thank you.