_ O _ T _ M _ U _ H.
So, which word to use as the last in the grid I’m filling?
I check the possibilities for this letter sequence. There are two.
Portsmouth OR Pottymouth.
And by coincidence, I have experienced both of these this weekend, from the North Stand of the Amex Stadium, Brighton, during the home team’s game against our south coast rivals.
Football fans are a creative lot, though I sometimes suspect the fuel for this creativity may have come courtesy of the landlord at The Queens Head.
Portsmouth are in financial dire straits. The administrator has been called in. Players are being sold left, right and centre forward.
But as in a cryptic clue, we get to be ‘artists’ as a result of the opposition’s ‘dire straits’.
The Pompey Chimes that ring out from the banks of away fans in the south stand to the words ‘Play Up Pompey, Pompey play up’ are echoed from our lot as ‘Pay up Pompey…’.
The song ‘Where’s Your Mother Gone?’ becomes ‘Where’s Your Money Gone?’.
But while cruel, this is far from indelicate language. So where is the pottymouth in the proceedings?
Tragically, he is yours truly, exasperated at the inept passing qualities of our home heroes.
Supposedly a wordsmith – I suppress a guffaw – my running commentary extends never to efforts of two syllables or above for the entire first half of the game.
And, shame on me, my mother never ever swore. Even when once she accidentally stuck a gardening fork through her welly, uniting foot and vegetable patch in gory unison. Nor when she attempted to close the electric window of her car while reversing out of the driveway, firmly trapping her nose in the process. She never once swore. As I remember.
However, I am a disgrace.
But, somehow, in the end, we end up winning the game, and we go home happy.
And I go back home to my day job, safe in the knowledge that I have left my pottymouth world on the terraces.
So, dear readers, never will you find anything but the palatable and the puritanical in my puzzles. Given the choice, I will always opt for pOrTsMoUtH.
Well, nearly always.