International break. Two words that fill all us football fans with the kind of blood-chilling terror that sees white underwear taken completely off the table as a suitable attire choice. Without our usual security blanket of wall-to-wall televised football to protect us, we are vulnerable to the monotony's of life. It is naturally very unsettling. I myself, for example, found myself at a supermarket last night inexplicably parting with actual real money in exchange for nappies - for a baby I do not yet have. This is the kind of messed up stuff that can only be born out of the international break and it is why it must be feared.
Your time is, I am afraid, gone. We can't help there. Eagerly sliced up by your non-football-loving partners like scavenging heathens. But we can try to offer some essential damage-limitation tips to get you through the tough days ahead...
And so, why not start by reminding yourselves of happier times? A time when a Sunderland match dominated your thoughts and you didn't have that gut-wrenching sense of emotional emptiness ravaging your soul. To aid the sense of comforting familiarity, Sunderland even contributed a defeat - read about the tactical nuances that saw it happen.
Next, we offer you the opportunity to test and track your mental stability during such a difficult time. An ink-blot test of sorts. Read Dan Williams' Roker Rhyme every day, and if you see a madman incessantly speaking in rhyme for no apparent reason, rejoice for you are fine. If, however, you see nothing amiss, then immediately seek medical assistance before it is too late.
Now would be a great time to seek solace in the misery of others. And to that end, we distracted Delilah with a tin of Tuna and a ball of string for just long enough to nick a few pages out of her diary.
During these international breaks, do not be frightened or ashamed to seek the support and company of like-minded people. We did just that, by buddying up to the premier Sunderland AFC fanzine 'A Love Supreme' to form some kind of unstoppable giant Megazord. Having achieved this, we headed out to find some small, insignificant buildings to stomp on, and naturally set our sights on St James Park. Then we decided we couldn't be bothered to go all the way to Exeter after all.
During difficult times such as these, of course, you have to look out for your friends and try and help them through it. When David Boyle came dangerously close to expressing an opinion and actually getting angry about something in this week's Roker Ramble, the alarm bells were ringing for us all. Turns out he didn't even know it was an international week, and he was struggling to cope with the disappointment of realising it was ALS we were getting together with, and not JLS as he originally thought.
You have to keep your chin up in these breaks, even if you are as so genetically predisposed to revelling in misery as I am. So in Captain's Blog this week, I engaged my blind faith chip and tried to focus on some Sunderland AFC-related positives.
It is also a good tip to try and keep an open mind to all perspectives, mainly so you can preempt the 'lets go pick some paint for the nursery, Michael' attacks on your slothliness, allowing you to lay subliminal messages in her brain that she hasn't spoken to her mam for a bit, knowing if you can just get them together on the phone it will likely free you from nagging for an entire afternoon. And speaking of alternate perspectives, here is this week's Dropping The Gloves...
Headphones are a godsend when you are trying to hide. A real front-line essential in the battle against finding yourself doing something constructive with your time. Pop on your headphones and tell whoever is making demands on your time that you are listening to a DIY guide audio-book or something. If it was something awesome instead like - just to pick any old example off the top of my head - Episode 32 of The Roker Report Podcast, they'd never know any different...
For those ladies reading this and thinking this is a little male-centric so far, I can only apologise. But this next one could well be for you. Retail therapy has its place and uses at times such as these. But beat the cold and the queues by visiting the Roker Report shop instead! We even added a few new additions to check out.
Immerse yourself in history. It is, after all, educational and time spent on constructive self-improvement pursuits is time pretty well protected. So why not devote a little time to Chris Weatherspoon's two part epic about 'Slim' Jim Baxter?
And finally, remember to reminisce about when you were young enough, spoiled enough, and generally rubbish enough company to ever get plagued by such things as people asking you to actually do stuff. We brought you another edition of My First Game to provide just such a service.
You may have noticed that that, by Roker Report standards, was a very quiet week. That is because the tips we offer above are largely rubbish, don't work one bit, and have resulted in us being helpless to prevent our other halves doing stuff like drag us round on nappy-buying crusades. Not as if you weren't warned as far back as the very first paragraph! Well, that and the fact we were a bit knackered.
But here are a few top picks from elsewhere on the web to fill in some time...
Let's start in serious mood with this rather startling story from the perpetually brilliant In Bed With Maradona highlighting the continued lethargy towards racism that plagues the English game and runs far deeper than John Terry.
That was all very serious, wasn't it? Well, lets lighten the mood with a couple of chuckletastic videos. First, a video that KCKRS brought to our attention about a perfectly round-headed idiot.
And who here is willing to admit they are old enough to remember the 1994 Coco-Pops advert about the heroics of Coco United in the Jungle World Cup final against the might of Amazon Forest? Well, whether you are old enough or not, this video from Surreal Football is likely to raise more than a chortle or two.
That just about does it. Best of luck in your attempts to survive the international break and we'll see you again next week!