It's pitiful, isn't it? That footage of former footballing hero, and now washed-up drunk, Paul Gascoigne shaking and swearing his way through a pubic appearance.
Above the shocked gasps the sound of a wagon accelerating rapidly away could
clearly be heard. Gazza's on the pop again.
So what? Another fallen star who can't seem to say no to a daily bucket full of
the hard stuff while newspaper folk add another few lines to his obituary.
The thing is I've always paid a bit more attention to Gascoigne-related news
since I found out that he and I were born on the same day. It was around the
time he arrived at Glasgow Rangers. It was 1995 and he was a bit special on and
off the pitch.
I was a young journalist clearly headed for great things and he was already
being written into sporting history.
It wasn't hard to persuade myself that there was a connection - siblings in the
stars or something. Isn't that how astrology works? Everyone born at the same
time shares charactoristics, fates and fortune, surely. PG and I typical
Then he began to lurch from one drink-fuelled disaster to the next. Not only
was he 'mercurial' he was also an alcoholic and a wife beater. Rehab stints and
futile comebacks to no avail.
Phrases like "dying before our eyes" and "killing himself"
have been heard at the same time as a gang of showbiz pals write cheques to
send him to a fancy clinic. But no one seems to think it'll do any good, not in
the long run.
And here's where I have to let Gazza go off his own way. There's no special
connection, not with the man who introduced an element of farce to Raoul Moat's
suicidal stand-off. Nor, as it happens, with anyone else who was born on the
Saturday of that Whitsun weekend.
What's happening to Paul Gascoigne is horrible, a waste of ability. While he is
undeniably very ill - and alcoholism is a disease - he has a better chance than
most to create his own future. Which, whatever the horoscopes might say, is
what we all must do.