Look away now

God willing, tonight I’ll tune in to Match of the Day without knowing a single result.

There’s still time for me to accidentally happen across the footy scores, though. In these days of rolling coverage, red buttons and RSS feeds, it’s getting increasingly difficult to actively avoid information short of a total technological blackout. “Going dark” might be something that happens in every other episode of 24, but as someone whose life is lived pretty much entirely in front of a screen of some sort, actually remaining out of the loop is tricky.

I actually know how many goals two of today’s teams scored, because my wife was flipping through radio stations on the way home after La Roux came on Radio 1 and, of course, the channel had to be immediately changed. At first I thought I’d heard a full scoreline, but a quick check of the fixture list in the Guardian’s sport section revealed that Aston Villa weren’t actually playing Hull. I had another narrow escape at my parents’ house after a bout of channel-surfing, but we knew we were safe when we found Ice Age. Then again, had it been on Five, we’d be in danger of an interruption by one of their one-minute news updates, wherein a score or three would undoubtedly have been revealed.

It never used to be this hard. When I was very young my dad and I used to hang on until Final Score, with the Beeb’s vidiprinter slowly tapping out the score, character by character. The anticipation was unbearable as you waited to see whether ‘Manchester City’ would be followed by the dreaded ‘0’, or whether the ‘2’ – YES! COME ON! – was then going to be followed by ‘Derby County 3’ – FOR GOD’S SAKE, CITY. When I was a little older, and allowed to stay up until (gasp) 10 o’clock, then we’d watch MOTD completely and utterly cold. It wasn’t often we’d resist temptation to find out City’s score, but on any Saturday we didn’t play, we’d always enjoy it all the more without knowing the scores in advance. With only four channels, you always knew when the news was on and learned not to turn over at those times. With Freeview and Sky, that’s not nearly as simple – particularly as most news reports tell you only to ‘look away now’ before proceeding to announce the results out loud. Brilliantly, they put the scores on at the very end of the news, just before Match of the Day starts. So if the news is running late, you can often tune in at the right time to find out it’s precisely the wrong time. Programme spoiled, sulk mode engaged. That one’s got me once so far.

It’s probably only the fourth or fifth time I’ve done this, but I’m starting to learn the tricks of the trade. Avoiding Facebook is an absolute must. Twitter’s a tad risky, but it seems I follow few big footy fans, and tonight’s tweets haven’t revealed any results. Forums can be tricky – you’ll usually be safe outside topics related to sport, but sometimes a user can make reference to a particularly good or bad result in another thread (i.e. “I’ve had a terrible day – I got dumped and Portsmouth let in seven”).

Your best bet is to avoid all contact with the outside world – don’t read any texts, don’t answer your phone, close FireFox and just wait for Gary Lineker to welcome you to the show. Sure, you might have missed the death of an elderly relative, or a big night out with the lads. But at least you’ll be able to enjoy Bolton 0 Blackburn 0 completely oblivious to the feast of footy that’s about to unfold.

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