And why not? Oh my word... it's Gazza... yes... you remember him?


Trawling through the phone boxes of central London, Jasper picked up card after card, his hands quivering, his breath shallow and his chest tight. He couldn't help it - it was sordid and depraved but he could not resist the compulsion to pocket the cards.

He has already rehearsed his speech in case he was spotted by a policeman; he would adopt a tone of moral outrage and explain that he was removing the cards because they were filth and were lowering the tone of the plush Bloomsbury location..

One particular card caught his eye.

He could feel his T-shirt cling sweatily to his back. He looked around to check that he wasn't noticed and pretended that he had dropped something - then he daintily plucked the blu-tacked card from the glass.

This card was different. Mostly, they showed young black footballers from the first or second divisions, anonymous youngsters with bulging thighs. The cards would talk of their prowess at headers, how they were deadly finishers in the box. Jasper had met these young men in bedsits and rented rooms: often they were nothing like the photos, they were lanky mulattos with no ball control and studs missing from their boots.

This card was different. He recognised the player. He had put on weight and his hair - once so celebrated in adverts and talk-shows - was thinning. He was kitted out in the lurid colours of a first division side. But he recognised the player: it was Gazza.