All entries for May 2005

May 05, 2005

Irrational Passion (Football In This Case)

This article is about football because that's what inspired it, but it can equally apply to any sport and to about a million and one non-sporting things.

I have been ever-so-slightly more deaf in one ear today than usual due to me picking possibly the most ill-timed moment yet to ring home yesterday. I was sure dad would answer, but no it was mum, all high pitched whoops and whistles. She told me in no uncertain terms that she had hated the previous 90 minutes, every excruitiating second, every single kick, pass and fumble. The most stressful hour and a half for a very long time. All this and mum's a Liverpool fan. Yeah, that's right, the team that won.

I know what she means though. I hate the way a one-nil lead ain't enough. Or the way chasing a one-nil lead is the worst thing ever. But why? I mean seriously, why?

As has been pointed out to me by numerous people since time began it's totally irrational. Completely. Being a football fan doesn't affect anything. Your support will not make your team win. It will not bring trophies. Not even the League Cup. You do not contribute in any useful way to how they play and yet... yet, it feels so important. They, those eleven men, win the game, but we share the feeling of elation. We go around proudly carping, or dejectedly whinging, or frustratedly bemoaning the draw. We call them our teams when they owe us nothing and we contribute so little.

But it matters to us! And I can't figure out why! It cuts way deeper than logic or reason. It's not like national pride really, though it could be a replacement for this (especially international football) in this day when it's so uncool to love your country. At least with national pride you are part of that nation. There may even be real danger which causes the national conflict. No one's in any danger from football, unless Milwall fans have come to town.

Why do I care? I don't want to sometimes. Better to be like so many people I know who play football and have that sense of club involvement, but not the supporting of a club they have nothing to do with. It is horrible watching your team lose. Dodgy goals and crappy refs and sheer, unadulterated bad luck just grind your nerves into the ground. Days of torment like England-Argentina in 1998, Ireland-Spain in 2000 and every European Cup game Manchester United have been put out in since 1999 and indeed before then. I hate it but I can't stop. How stupid is that? I will criticise and moan but stick with it. It's an abusive relationship. It's a stupid idea I sold myself to. Fuck it, it's love and no rational thought can stop it.

Just a thought…

1973 Denis Law scores a cheeky backheel that gives Manchester City a nice win. Does he celebrate? No. He hangs his head and looks utterly dejected. The reason? He scored that goal against Manchester United and therefore relegated them to the second division. His team won. Except they didn't. That's what it's all about. And yes, it is too late for me. Run. Save yourselves and your children.

May 02, 2005

May Day Fun

May Day bank holiday is great for a nice family day out but let's face it, fmaily rarely like to get into alcohol fuelled midnight rampages across the greenery of Leamington Spa. Fortunately friends can be relied on to think that champagne + night time + Jephson Gardens = a good night out. Sure this happens a lot but they forgot that this time I had my camera. Memories, they can be exciting…

First off is the moment when someone first uttered the phrase "I think we should go to the park". The fact is was 11.15pm was pointed out, apparently in the hope that the fact it was dark and therefore would involve climbing over fences would put us off. Logical really, Amanda and Winnie weren't really dressed to go fence jumping and Els was wearing her flipflops, not good footware for midnight adventures… don't be fooled though. Logic is not our strong point.

Anway, we gathered in the corridor where Els played basketball with an invisible ball (I think that's what she's doing) whilst the others put on more suitable clothing. Obviously they forgot their balaclavas and grappling hooks, otherwise it would have been a proper night out. Naturally we took our good friend and motivation, champagne, with us.

We successfully crossed the bridge pausing only for Amanda to attempt to climb the damn thing. Unfortunately Fortunately she did not fall in the river with the geese.

Then we came across the fortress. Well, when I say fortress I mean a gate about 5 foot high, but still is had ornate spiky bits on top and could probably gouge a serious wound if you came across one whilst filming for '999'. However we checked and we couldn't see Michael Buerk anywhere so we assumed it was safe to go over.

By this point it was dawning on the slightly less inebriated members of the party (erm, me) that what we were doing was probably not quite 100% legal, kosher and good in the eyes of a cruel, judgemental society. However, rather than lamenting the way our culture enforces early maturity on its young (thereby creating a generation of students and scallies who use their late teens and early twenties to behave immaturely as compensation for lost childhood innocence) I figured that:

  • I was sober therefore more likely to run cleverly (i.e. ducking and weaving, into the camoflauge of the dark, not into the river) so could escape any persuers.
  • The others were drunk and more likely to get caught.
  • This was more fun than being at home with my essay.

Conscience soothed I stopped hiding my face from the unseen security cameras and watched as Winnie molested the boat hire sign whilst Els held the champagne bottle to her crotch and shouted "Suck It!". Apparently English students call it "being performative". Quite.

Disappointingly when we got to the front gate it was open. This took away much of the sense of achievement my pissed comrades had been glowing with since they scaled the gate. The reason was there was a wedding, hence we scattered from our sign molesting when a rather soberly dressed elderly couple approached from the path behind us. We did try to get people to pose for photos but only one, very nice, lady would and she was rewarded, to her delight, with some of our lovely champagne.

The next logical step was the trees. I read once that there's this weird evolutionary hangover in people which means that when women are scared, e.g. when watching Dr Who or whatever, they tend to curl up into a ball on their chair, wrapping their legs around themselves and not touching the floor. Apparently this is because in the very old days, female humans fled danger by climbing trees whilst males would run or, quelle surprise, fight back. I can't be sure, but I can be sure that we were up for some tree climbing. I scrambled up an easy one, lacking, as I did, any Dutch courage and got some lovely shots of Els contemplating her assault on a very high tree. Amanda and Winnie ended up up the same tree as me, not through lack of ambition, more through lack of coordination. I'm not sure who took the photo of me…

The award for photo of the night goes to Els for this one where she appears to be falling out of a tree straight onto me but, get this, she isn't!? My god, our lives are so meaningless aren't they? Still, I challenge you to live through that and be as blase as me.

So the evening was becoming a nice calm walk in the park, albeit a park which was now locked and secure (ish) with us on the inside wondering when the druggies would start lurking with worrying intent. After two large meals in a day (unheard of, you student, you) I decided to rest myself on the stony bare ground after the others refused to make me a nice bed of leaves and grass… or indeed of wood and matress. Bastards.

So there we are. Why do we feel the strange compulsion to break the law in such a ridiculous way? It's hardly tearing down the fabric of society. In fact it's hardly anything more than four young women, aged between 19 and 23, twatting around in the dark wondering if the park ranger will chase them, even after he stated to our faces that he had no intention of doing so. Basically if we fell in the river it was our problem.

So what's so funny? Nothing really. Maybe you had to be there, behaving like a fool. And then return there the next day to find the bottle of champagne, empty for hours, still sat where you left it. This time it was surrounded by bank holiday families and their law abiding, 'we're so mature' lives. All it takes is a bit of the night to get people, even upstanding students, to behave a bit odd. That and alcohol.

I cannot explain my own motivation, however…

May 2005

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