13.12.2002 When something extraordinary occurs in your life, as in my own case when my cancer was originally diagnosed six years ago, people react in different ways. Some adopt a "live for today approach", and shoot off round the world, doing the things they have always wanted to do, things they might never have believed possible, seeing places they might never have seen and encountering people and cultures they might never have dreamt of. It works for some, in the same way that fast cars and fast living works for others. In other words, it's a case of packing in as much as possible, while there's still time. Now me, I'm all for routine. I love the sheer normality of my life. At any given point in the week you could have a reasonable guess as to what I'll be doing, where I'll be doing it, and who I'll be doing it with. My routine wraps itself round me like an old blanket, and comforts me in the way an old friend does. Now some - many probably - would call that dull. BORING!! But not me. That's not to say that I don't enjoy getting away on holidays and stuff. But we rarely venture far from well-known, well-worn paths that we have travelled down many times before. I'll try and explain why I think I feel like this. In October I had my diagnosis confirmed, I have a tumour in my back and another in my lung. Not life threatening in themselves, but nonetheless a setback on the road to recovery, and the inevitable prospect of a return to treatment, hospitals, GP's surgeries, possibly surgery. Now that is out of the ordinary. That is not part of my routine. So for me breaks in the routine mean primarily one thing - it's back again. I have a couple of thousand air miles, and we had the chance to use them while they were running a big promotion to go to New York for a few days in the school half term. We have never been there before, but we love America, and would like to visit the Big Apple at some point. My wife is a schoolteacher, and my son is a student (at Cambridge University studying English Education and Drama - I mention that for no other reason than that I am immensely proud of him), and we had been looking forward to going away for a few days over the half term holiday. But when it became apparent that I might be heading for more treatment I could not bring myself to make the reservation. You see I became paranoid that we were going, not because it was something that we wanted to do, but because it might be the last chance we would have to do it as a family. And I could not bear to think in those terms. The day I THINK I'm a gonner is the day I will be. So, to everyone's disappointment, we agreed that the visit could be postponed, hopefully until Easter. We would have more time to plan and look forward to it. Running off half-cocked doing stuff on a whim is not how I carry on. I mean, there's no need to. There's plenty of time left yet for stuff like that. I think our Mr Doyle will be a man of routine. Out of the ordinary does not appear to be his style. Though he's invited the money men of Barnsley to "put their money where their mouth is", I get the impression that close friends and family are very much the order of the day. Flamboyant he ain't, and I think he's likely to perceive even the dourest of modern day managers as unnecessarily flash, brash and a drain on his cash. I have seen people with less trusting natures, well I think I have, I mean I must have at some point. No you're right. I've never seen anyone with a less trusting nature in my entire life. That's one of the reasons why I think he will appoint Hodges as his manager. Hodges has achieved some good results recently - please don't quote Bury and Blackpool to me, I'll stick with Peterborough and Cardiff - and on that basis I think that PD will go with what he has come to know over the last few weeks. And he's cheap!! There are two clear schools of thought within Barnsley supporters - those who are thankful that we still have a club to support, and those who are fearful that this is a plot - a grand plan of Machiavellian proportions, that will lead ultimately to the demise of the club as we know it. I put myself in the former camp, for no other reason than to consider the alternative is, well - unthinkable. Call it blind faith if you will, but I have grown used to hope in the face of adversity. All I do know is that I want to get back to where we were before, and by that I don't mean the Premier, although that would be wonderful, I mean I just want to get back to knowing that Barnsley Football Club will play 46 games per season, year in year out, and that I will be there to see some of them. Within that there will be some success and some failure, but as good ole Mr Kipling said, before he turned to making cakes. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools: Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and – which is more – you'll be a Man, my son! All I want now is for sanity to resume, to get back to some semblance of normality, and to be able to look forward again, without fear, to the prospect of games down at the 'Well. To be lifted, frustrated, angry, ecstatic and all the other myriad emotions that supporting your club engenders. I just want to be back in a routine. This may be the last Dear Diary, for a time at least. When I started I had just received the news that the cancer was back. My emotions were quite raw, and I needed an outlet. That this occurred when the Reds were deep in the brown and sticky stuff was coincidence, and amid the doom and gloom that permeated this board at that time, I simply felt that some perspective was appropriate. But there are only so many times you can try and counter Bill Shankly's oft quoted "Football is not life and death, it's much more important than that" without sounding repetitive. And I know that the more pragmatic approach that I have to things does not sit comfortably with some. Now that the club is, for the time being at least, back to a position where they can be reasonably optimistic about the future, and the discussions on this board are back to more mundane matters, there seems little point in continuing to try to draw an analogy between the club's struggle for survival and my own.And I'm sure you don"t want to read missives along the lines of "Had chemo today, feel like **** but can't ****", 'cause this is not really the place for that kind of posting. So thanks to site admin for affording me the space, thanks for reading it, and many many thanks to those of you who have expressed support over the last few weeks. It really has meant an awful lot to me. Have a wonderful 12 point Christmas, and a fabulous play off New Year. I will let you know how I get on.