CURVE BALL has a record in tardiness second only to the occupants of Hill 16. This intro is by way of explaining to the editor why this week's offering is late again -- worse still, we don't even have the germ of an idea that might expand into a column on a slow week.
Desperate times call for delusional measures, so we will now (promptly!) deliver the following missive to our hirsute friend in the North Pole, outlining our Christmas present wish-list for 2009.
(Editor: Surely you mean 2010?
Curve Ball: Eh, did you not read the intro?)
My dearest Mister Claus,
Could you be so kind as to deliver the following gifts to a long list of acquaintances as outlined below?
Yours in anticipation,
PS: Last year's cheque will be in the post. Soonish.
CHERYL COLE: Ashley Cole Repellent Spray. She has already been stung by one malaria-infected, sneaky little insect in the past week ... we'd hate to see it happen again.
TOMáS ó sé: A return to the good old days when we all huddled around the only wireless in the village, listening to Micheál O'Hehir's dulcet commentary on the Munster final ... and when only All-Ireland semi-finals and finals were captured by the RTE cameras.
EAMONN O'HARA: See above.
EMILE HESKEY: The ability to laugh out loud at some of those vicious text messages currently doing the rounds. Such as: "Got to admire Emile Heskey ... has a disastrous World Cup ... comes home, puts a frock on and wins the women's title at Wimbledon."
SERENA WILLIAMS: A place up front in England's next World Cup finals squad. Presuming Emile isn't allowed to feck it up for Fabio in the meantime.
SEPP BLATTER: A video camera and one of those 'stop-it-there!' gizmos belonging to John Giles. This has gone way too far.
There is far too much money at stake. You can't have the whole world seeing a blatant goal being scored only for the officials not to award it. Finally, Sepp, you must bow to the greater good ... never again can we have a farce like Pats v Rovers on Monday night.
PETE MAHON: Failing the above, would it be possible to get even a bog-standard FIFA grant for some new sanitary facilities at every League of Ireland ground?
"We can't afford to have proper toilets in this league, so how can we afford to have video technology?" the Pat's boss lamented. And he wasn't taking the p*** either.
ANTHONY DALY: A last-minute grind in the rules of Dublin/Clare engagement. Just so he knows when to say "we" and "they" during Saturday's post-match press briefing at Croke Park.
FERNANDO TORRES: A new Sat Nav pointing him in the direction of the German goal. But you better hurry: he looks completely lost at the moment and keeps taking detours towards the Spanish bench.
ENGLAND/ARGENTINA: Never mind the Malvinas or the Hand of God, this pair have something painful in common and it's time we came to their assistance. Ergo, here is the latest edition of that timeless self-help classic, Never Write Off The Germans.
MAYO FOOTBALL: A root-and-branch review. Failing that, a root up the orifice where the sun don't shine.
PETER FITZPATRICK: A chill pill for the wonderfully exuberant Louth football boss.
EAMON O'BRIEN: An anti-chill pill for the persistently unflappable Meath manager.
BRIAN CODY: A decent challenge sometime between now and September.
Otherwise the All Star selectors will have to start showing up at Nowlan Park training.
JEDWARD: Any chance you could perform two-for-the-price-of-one surgery on Edward Grimes? Nothing major, just a new voice-box to go with his reconstructed knee?
TIGER WOODS: A place on the Limerick hurling team for next Saturday's qualifier in Tullamore. Surely JP can square it with Justin. And besides, Limerick in their current impoverished state are crying out for a world-class swinger who can pull hard and often ... and isn't worried about he who he hits (upon).
PAT GILROY: Jason Sherlock's mobile number. He seems to have mislaid it.
JASON SHERLOCK: The patience of Job. It could be a long wait.
HARRY REDKNAPP: A free annual pass to Copper Face Jacks, as reward for his quote-of-the-week rebuke to occasional Spurs footballer (and Mexican World Cup star) Giovani dos Santos: "If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right."
GIOVANI DOS SANTOS: Instant revocation of his Coppers pass.
GEORGE HOOK: By Government decree, the cancellation of his Sky Plus subscription.
APRES MATCH: A time machine to instantly transport our three comic chameleons to Brazil 2014. The World Cup isn't even over and already we're starting to suffer the first pangs of cold turkey. And we're not talking about the football.
HERALD BACK PAGE: A "Dublin ticket frenzy" story. Even one this summer. Just to remind us of the good old days.