Kyle Walker should be ashamed of himself.
Like it or not, Premier League footballers are role models. They lay down an example for our children to follow. When they wind up at the wrong end of the newspaper, they should be there for traditional reasons. Women, booze, financial enterprises so ill-advised that a cat could point out the critical flaws in the business plan.
But not for balloons.
How did Walker feel when the Sunday Mirror closed the trap? The call would have come on Friday or Saturday. The blocked number. The haughty voice, dripping with superiority.
“We’ve got you, Walker. We’ve got you bang to rights. We’ve got you for the balloons.”
Tell me, honestly, how can you look your friends and family in the face when they’ve got you for the balloons?
There is a story about Noel Gallagher going to meet the guitarist from Muse, but stopping dead in front of him and staring in disgust at his electronic cigarette.
“You know how it is,” said the man from Muse hopefully.
No, Gallagher did not know how it was. He knew that society expects certain things from rock stars, just as it expects certain things of footballers.
Footballers have a responsibility, nay a duty, to sleep with pop stars and then cheat on them. They have a duty to buy expensive cars that they later prove to be entirely incapable of controlling. Balloons? God, it’s all so low-rent.
By golly, what on earth was Walker playing at when he accepted the offer of a lungful of nitrous oxide? Did he think that ‘hippy crack’ was cool? Well, I’ve got news for you, Mr Walker: things that hippies do are never cool.
Was he unaware of the horror stories? The grisly, real life accounts of what a cylinder full of nitrous oxide can do to a party? I’ve got news for you, Mr Walker. Hippy crack can kill a party. It can kill it just like that.
One minute, you’ve got a house full of interesting people, glugging grown-up squash, talking, joking and flirting. The next minute, there’s a line as long as a night bus queue for some bearded bloke and his grimy canister of pressurised headache gas. Conversations break down, conventions break down, the very superstructure of the party itself breaks down as you stand in horror and watch people giggle their heads off for 120 seconds and then sweatily retake their place at the back of the queue.
It might be a laugh for you, Mr Walker, it might be a great big Premier League laugh, but the laughing stops when the Scandinavian girl you were talking to about Jeff Buckley, the one who who kept flicking her hair in a way that a TV documentary once told you means that she’s almost definitely interested, suddenly inhales a crippling migraine and has to go home early. Ha bleeding ha, Mr Walker. Ha bleeding ha. (No Scandinavian hippy chicks were hurt in the process of research for this column - Ed)
We can only be thankful that the repentant doofus acted quickly to repair the damage. By releasing a statement of apology, by distancing himself from ballon-based activities, he may have prevented other parties from sharing the same terrible fate.
It is high time that Mr Walker and his ilk remembered their responsibilities to society and focused on their profession’s priorities: Namely, messing up in an England shirt, destroying their marriages and going off the rails in such style that we never begrudge them their wages again.
Balloons? Give me strength.
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