Taking Stock - July 2, 2012

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Football fans of Britain, I’m sorry, England’s exit from Euro 2012 is my fault.

Now I know that’s something of a big leap to make, particularly given that last Sunday night I was most definitely in South Shore and not Kiev.

Neither is my name Ashley, although, like those two superstar footballers, I’m no good at taking penalties.

No, my contribution to the defeat at the hands of our Italian cousins was altogether more mundane. In fact, it’s all down to my washing up.

You see, I’d left the pots and pans to do after the game but, after 90 minutes and extra time, it was getting a bit late to be clattering about in the kitchen.

So, I decided there would surely be enough time to give the dishes a good scrub while Roy prepared his boys for the big shootout, which I was certain we were going to win.

After all, how unlucky, or just plain incompetent can one nation be from 12 yards and, besides the opponents were neither German or Portuguese.

Whether the ref wanted to get things moving a little quicker than usual (it was, after all, well into the early hours on the banks of the Dneiper) or it took me longer than expected to deal with a nasty case of baked on cottage pie I’ll never know.

What I do know is I returned to the action with England a goal to the good and Ashley Young preparing for his moment of glory.

Who knows what might have been had I decided to deal with the roasting tray (left soaking since Saturday night) or encountered a particularly tricky breakfast bowl, complete with concreted Weetabix.

Even if I’d decided to pack it in and go to bed, our boys might have had a chance away from my jinxing gaze.

So, with the sink still draining, I waved goodbye to England’s major championship dreams and the tenner I’d rather foolishly put on us to win.

Odd really as I’m not a gambling man.

I really should have learned my lesson a few weeks before when I decided I’d take up a colleague’s top racing tip.

Normally, under such circumstances, I sit quietly and giggle at the others who’ve put their well earned reddies on a nag they’ve never seen.

I’m content knowing that, as the horse limps across the finish line, I’ll still have the same amount of cash I started with.

Maybe it’s because I’m stingy, or maybe I just don’t like taking risks, but gambling has always seemed a bit of a mugs game.

But then the impossible happened, our amateur tipster actually managed to predict a winner (well, in truth it came in third but a few folks made a pretty penny from an each way punt).

Suddenly, despite the fact I knew, in my heart of hearts, following the advice of a man who knows about as much about racing as I do about nuclear physics, was a bit like joining a pyramid sales scheme, I wanted in on the action.

And so, when the next big tip arrived, I was at the front of the queue, waiting with baited breath for that big payout.

Sadly, as it turns out, you get about as much for finishing second last as you do from losing on penalties in a quarter final.

Now, with England, there’s a safe bet.