Using public transport in London often means you come into unwanted contact with the personal views of some of the capital's great thinkers. And so it proved on Wednesday evening when yet another crash of my rapidly ailing iPod left me unable to escape the inanities of others' conversations as we crawled along the dread Hammersmith & City Line.
A bunch of jabbering tele-salesmen were loudly discussing the upcoming World Cup and Fabio Capello's initial 30-man selection. Relief was expressed at John Terry's lack of a serious injury after the ridiculous rollercoaster of wild speculation that followed a Chelsea training-ground incident but then a special ire, delivered with no little bile, was aimed at none other than Paul Scholes.
Scholes was recently asked by Capello to reconsider his six-year self-imposed exile from international football. Having been given the time to "sleep" on it, Scholes was not for turning, leaving Capello to plaintively say: "I tried." This, to my rapid-fire correspondent was proof of Scholes' status as a traitor to his country, a status shared by Alan Shearer for his own refusal to play beyond Euro 2000.
The clearly erroneous accusation of Scholes leaving Capello hanging for 18 months was also levelled before my new and unintroduced friends departed for the suburbs at King's Cross to an internal sigh of relief. Theirs was an attitude I, of course, found alien but the concept of footballing national service had been pinpointed in a rather ugly fashion.
The stated reason for Scholes' decision, according to Capello, was that the midfielder "preferred to stay with the family", a reason that would seem perfectly understandable to most. Scholes is famously private and rarely seen out in public without the company of his ginger offspring, often in the stands of Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park. This stranger to China White, Boujis and even Manchester's own Loaf once described his ideal day thus: "Train in the morning, pick up the kids from school, play with them, have tea, get them to bed and then watch a bit of TV."
It also appears that Scholes chose to remain true to a prior commitment as a football coach, as the eponymous figurehead of "Paul Scholes Soccer Academy Week" between June 14 and 17, a time when England will be heading to Cape Town to face Algeria. Over in Orlando, Florida, Scholes, accompanied by Darlington boss Simon Davey, will be honouring an agreement with Tony Shard, a childhood friend from Oldham.
Indeed, until his recent flush back to vintage form with United, Scholes had looked as if his immediate future would lie in such ventures, with few ever seeing him as the type to take on such a public role as that of a football manager. Before a new deal was recently signed, his retirement had been largely expected, and Sir Alex Ferguson has even joked that it was he who would decide when his former fledgling could hang up his boots.
It was back in 2004 that Scholes quit the international scene after 66 caps that eventually saw him unable to replicate the form as a goalscoring midfielder he had shown at United and during his initial burst into the England team. Euro 2004 saw him shunted out to the left wing by Sven Goran Eriksson, who clearly mistook monosyllabism for willingness and wasted the talents of England’s foremost playmaker to shoehorn in the ever incompatible pairing of Gerrard and Lampard.
As for the present day and the tournament-in-waiting, it was to that duo, and perhaps Gareth Barry, that Scholes would be expecting to play deputy. A month of bench-warming would clearly not be for him. The sense of him being able to better influence affairs in a Southern hemisphere winter than in the summer tournament fare he had often wilted in as a result of his asthma and ruddy complexion was an obvious boon but that would be counterbalanced by advancing age and an often static midfield position due to a lack of legs; he cannot offer the versatility that the returning Jamie Carragher may yet provide.
Scholes himself would surely have recognised this and, with his surely-final season approaching, will have wanted to be rested up for the new domestic campaign, having spent a sunshine break with his own kids and those of others who want to become the next Paul Scholes.
Never one to court the celeb life, like former team-mate David Beckham, or to chest-beat and proclaim patriotism like John Terry, Scholes, a singular footballer, chose to make an honest decision that has been respected by England's manager. With apologies to the motormouth and beery tele-salesmen of the Baker Street region, so should everyone else.