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Thierry Henry, and the Philosophy of Never Going Back

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"Never go back," they say, and I should know. After all, I made the dreadful mistake of going back to a previous employer, only to find that they'd upped the security and changed the combination on the safe. Also, nobody told me about the fat sweaty copper on the security desk having a gastric band, and he got up quite a decent turn of speed as I fled, my sack marked "SWAG" flapping in the wind behind me. Six hideous, terrifying miles I thought would never end.

I also made the error of making a nostalgic return to the favourite public house of my twenties, where I enjoyed many a happy night with pals from the local rugby club, singing ribald songs about a young lady named Eskimo Nell and the unfortunate exploits of a certain blacksmith. Time has, it grieves me to say, been cruel to the New Inn, which is now a hideously over-priced gastro pub, where the staff all wear matching black uniforms and you need to produce a letter from your bank manager just to buy a pint. At the first mention of Eskimo Nell, the hatchet-faced manageress showed me the door, then the car park outside, with extreme force.

And now Thierry Henry has returned to Arsenal, where he was rightly recognised in his eight-year stay as one of the finest strikers ever to have plied his craft in the English leagues.

This has - for enthusiasts of the round-ball game - engendered the same sort of excitement grandees of the Conservative Party must have felt when Winston Churchill returned to Number Ten in 1951 at the age of 76. Sadly for Winston, those last few years in the spotlight were not his finest hour, and he retired from politics at the age of 80 before the end of his term.

Another four decades would pass before Churchill's final triumph, returning as a nodding dog selling car insurance. However, it's worth pointing out that Stalin Car Insurance has not sold quite so well in the Russian market, the jolly dog his the massive moustache urging people to buy his products or have your head nailed to the coffee table not exactly catching the public imagination.

Triumphant returns, you understand, tend not to be all they are made up to be. And on that front, I fear for the new series of Red Dwarf.

"Ah-ha!" I hear you say, "What about future Chief Scout Peter Duncan's return to Blue Peter in 1985? Was that not an unqualified triumph?"

To which I reply, with my fingers in my ears: "Shut up. I'm not listening. La la la la-la."

I should point out at this stage that Thierry Henry is not quite 76 years of age like Winston Churchill, but his agreement with Arsenal reminds the London club that he needs half an hour off every Tuesday morning to pick up his pension (extended to 45 minutes should he decide to engage the cashier in conversation about the bad weather we're having), and FIFA have been forced to rule that a goal scored using a walking frame still counts.

The jury's still out on the return of Arsenal's record scorer. This could be a master stroke by manager Arsene Wenger, which might catapult a less-than-inspiring Arsenal side back into the big time, or, more like one of those missile tests they keep having in Iran: They talk a good massive explosion, but the reality is a mess of badly photoshopped images as the rest of the world points and laughs.

So what lesson can we take from this? Never go back. Not unless you want to go on and become Chief Scout, or find yourself chased through the streets of your home town by a security guard. Don't try it.