Perhaps I've spent too long with the pleasant, clean-spoken Canadians. Back in action on Saturday after a month in Vancouver, I found myself faced with an intriguing challenge. Halfway through the first half, the defending skipper, a rough-hewn son of Kent, clashed with a midfielder, who I'd already noticed was slightly plummy, clearly a social cut above the rest of his team.
The defender got up from the challenge, cursing loudly at the midfielder. The midfielder said simply, "Shut up you Chav."
The defender was enraged at this comment and charged at his opponent, using agricultural language that would get him booked at least if he was directing at me. So what did I do?
I inserted my considerable bulk between the players, told the defender to buzz off and booked the midfielder for unsporting behaviour, for his use of the word "Chav." The plummy midfielder was aghast at his yellow card. At half time, he asked me why I'd booked him and not the opponent, who has indeed used swear words.
"Well I booked you for unsporting behaviour," I told him. "I find the expression offensive and it appeared to me to be deliberately aimed at goading your opponent to violent conduct." He shrugged and walked away, clearly unconvinced.
But it was good to be back in action and a pleasure to note that the air was feeling a little less frigid than it has done for most of the winter.