3 down, 35 to go….. who knows what will happen?

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

Gooners the world over are today experiencing a multitude of different feelings. There will be those who forever think the sun shines out of Arsène Wengers arse  and he can do no wrong, to those who at this moment think he has lost the plot and needs to be put away in an asylum for the mentally deranged. In between, are those who swing between the two extremes, sometimes their glass is half-full, sometimes half-empty. That’s millions of Arsenal fans, ordinary people like you and I, experiencing illogical mood swings and symptoms of anxiety, negativity and irrational feelings. Being a supporter of any football team causes these experiences, but it often seems that supporting the Arsenal is worse, doesn’t it?

For the more positive amongst us, these emotions are not such a big problem you may think, but I bet their resolve is sometimes sorely tested. The start to this season will be seen by them as a necessary learning curve, new team members and injuries meaning that Wenger has had to experiment with formation and tactics and in the process we have been good enough not to suffer a heavy defeat, achieving two draws and a win in the Premier League and a hard-fought win in the Champions League. Others of a more negative persuasion will be pointing the finger at the manager and shouting, “why did he do that?”, or, “can’t you see we lack a centre-forward and a defensive midfielder” or even, “It’s time for him to go”.

Others will be thinking it can only get better and others will be thinking we’ve got no chance of winning the PL and we’ll be lucky to get fourth place. One fan will see a match from one viewpoint and alternatively, another will have a totally different perspective of the same match, one positive and one negative. The outcome of the match is the underlying cause of such feelings but ultimately it is the individual person who puts the experience into his or her pigeon hole marked Negative feelings or Positive feelings or Let’s wait and see.

I’m trying to calmly analyse the situation, trying to stay positive. Stand back and count to ten before reacting should be the philosophy. Sometimes negativity can’t be avoided, your immediate response to an emotional situation bursts forth, uncontrolled. I have heard this is often the case on twitter, fans having critical and negative responses during an ongoing match. It’s like an argument between husband and wife, in the heat of the moment things are said which will later be regretted. I’m sure most of us have done it. The issue is, does it really matter?

Let’s try to get it into some kind of perspective. Firstly, we go through this vast range of different emotions every season, whether it’s a good season or a bad one. Last season can generally be viewed as a good season, we won the FA Cup, our first trophy in nine years. Alternatively, others will say we lost out on winning the double because of the lack of depth in the team due to not spending to strengthen the team. Two valid responses and quite normal in my eyes. This season has just started and already there are questions being asked of the team and the manager, but you could argue it has started better than last season. Two games won and a loss last season and we were on 6 points and in 4th place after three games, this season two draws and a win with 5 points and 7th place but crucially, not having lost a game. But what does that mean for the rest of the season, it means diddly squat. We can’t predict anything from it.

Many excuses and reasons can be put forward as to why this and why that, but ultimately, as fans we can only sit back, accept the decisions made at the club, by the manager and try to understand the form of the team and individual players. We are going to come up against some stubborn sides from the lower end of the table this season, Crystal Palace and Leicester have already proved that, but then again, we were easily outplayed by Everton in April but this time we got a gutsy 2-2. In the transition period waiting for new players to acclimatize and waiting for established players to come back from injury, we have discovered a new-found level of mental toughness. Wenger has often spoken of it but we have rarely seen it, until now. Last season, being two nil down away to Everton saw a collapse of spirit and humiliation, this season the boys fought valiantly to come from behind to get a point.

So at the moment, in amongst all the different emotions I’m likely to suffer during this season, I’m definitely looking at a half-full glass and I would urge other Gooners to do the same. If you need to be persuaded then just look at Man United and the woes they experienced last season and are experiencing now. I will not always be travelling on the bus of positivity but I know at times I will be there, rationally saying to myself  that things will improve. This is one of those moments. But after the next game I may well be questioning my mental fortitude, it’s the inevitable consequence of supporting a football team, but as Wenger would say, let’s take one game at a time.

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, emotional and unpredictable. Characteristically human by being changeable and fickle.  Sometimes confused but seeking to be rational and reasoned but also knowing that life needs passion and desire. Trying to find the perfect balance to support the Arsenal. The Sunday supplement will be published during the international break, next Sunday morning at 9am GMT. 

 

 

 

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Searching for Cezanne: Heroes and villains Part 3.

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

If you have not read them already, to understand the full context of this post, it may be good to read parts 1 and 2 here:       

Part 1  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-8g

Part 2  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-aa

Life journeys can be funny things, what fate brings can alter the future forever. The same could be said of football, a little twist of fate will change the future outcome. Take Arsenal last season, fate intervened with injuries in the team which could be said, stopped us winning the league and Cup double. But we’ll never know for sure, because once a path is taken due to the intervention of fate, the alternative will be lost forever. It is one of the wonders of life, organic and continually changing….. you can never really know what lies ahead.

And this is where I found myself at the beginning of the 1980’s. On the threshold of change, not just through fate, but because of decisions I had to make. However, the past still had a hold on me and there was one more short journey I had to take before finally pulling free of a culture that had controlled me from the age of 14, when I had stolen my first car. Change was not going to be an easy thing I discovered. I had to see a Parole Officer for six months after I stopped giving pleasure to Her Majesty. A Probation Officer who had a very narrow view of change, she sincerely thought all I had to do was to make a decision to stay away from criminal activity, and that would be that, I’d be a reformed character. It was akin to asking me to stop drinking or god forbid, change the football team I supported. In other words, it wasn’t so fucking easy and could be downright impossible!

However, whilst pleasuring Her Majesty I’d met someone who had taken an interest in my artistic skills, Reginald, who was due to see the light of day just a few months after me. So we arranged to meet for a drink when he got back to London. He called himself a ‘Art Dealer’ but for all intents and purposes, he was a fraudster, someone who conned greedy art dealers and gallery owners. It was easy he said and the beauty was, if they did finally find out they had been duped, they would never admit it and tell the police, because their reputation was on the line. Easy I thought.  In the meantime, I’d found a job, driving for a timber merchant, yes, a real job, through some very good friends of mine. I had also started doing some voluntary work with the elderly, my first move towards social work.

In my first week of smelling fresh air I’d had three priorities, the first is obvious, Mr Chorizo needed some action, the second was a decent Ruby Murray and the third was going to Highbury for a match. The Gunners had not been having a good time, since the Cup final defeat against West Ham, they’d continued a mediocre period, Terry Neill was still manager and the players of any note were Graham Rix and Frank Stapleton. The first match I went to see was a home game against Leicester City. It was a drab affair and we just about won 1-0. But for me it was great to be able to sit in the East Stand again and watch a game. However, this was the start of a period where I didn’t truly follow the Gunners, I had my life to sort out. I needed to be an upstanding member of society.

However, it wasn’t easy, all the people who I knew were involved one way or another in the criminal culture. A mate of mine Micky K, had gone into the pub game and he had a pub just off Caledonian Road, the typical mix of rogues and villains. Then I finally met up with Reginald, he was in his 50’s and looking very dapper, all suited up, shirt and tie and looking like a country gent, he even had the accent. We met in a pub in Soho and he outlined his scheme, very simple and what appeared to be ‘victimless’ and foolproof.  He just needed someone who could paint, which is where I fitted in because his last ‘artist’ had gone back to Holland.

The next day he took me to his ‘studio’ in Lambeth, it was a cross between an artist’s studio and a chemistry lab, full of all the paraphernalia needed for an artist, canvasses from the late 19th and early 20th century, paint mixing bowls and jars, piles of paper taken from 19th century books and meticulously dated, pigment powders, old jars of glue, gum arabic and paint binders. Everything needed to produce  an ‘authentic’ 19th or early 20th century painting. And this was the idea, to paint in the style of a fairly well known artist, with original paper or canvas and with the accurate mixture of original pigment to be able to fool a collector or art dealer. We agreed I would do something in watercolour because that had been the medium I’d started with and was used to, then we decided on what style, what artist and what epoque. Eventually we got it down to a couple of English watercolourists and Cezanne. Paul Cezanne had often worked in watercolour for his initial ideas and sketches, so he was the obvious choice, easy to do in the style of and leaving out  the signature. All I had to do was to paint it,  then Reginald would do the rest, finding a ‘mark’ as he called it, doing the deal and collecting the proceeds, of which I would get exactly half. Lovely jubbly I thought, so the following week, I set to work in the studio.

I continued with other things, working for the timber yard, doing some voluntary work at weekends, doing my degree in sociology and going to an occasional Arsenal home game. The Gunners weren’t doing brilliantly but it was looking like we could get close to the top, eventually going on to finish third with Aston Villa as Champions and Ipswich in second place. In the meantime I continued working at the studio, it had taken me a while to get six or seven decent paintings done but Reginald was happy with three of them, two Cezanne style still lives and a small study for Cezannes painting of the bathers. I then left it to him to do the business but it was only a couple of weeks before he contacted me to meet up in Soho.

We met in the same pub, he had a massive grin on his face and handed me an envelope full of cash, £5000 in total. He’d sold two of the paintings to American dealers at an art fair. The third was currently with a New York gallery owner and he would know soon if it was sold. The yank was a greedy bugger  he told me, and was being difficult over the price. An oil painting on canvas by Cezanne at the time could fetch $1m or more, but we were doing very small watercolour sketches, which at auction could go for about $50,000, so any dealer buying our paintings would be looking at a vast profit, and this is what Reginald relied upon, greed. His philosophy was ‘buyer beware’ but knew from experience that dealers would take stupid risks on the basis of earning a great deal of money.

A typical Cezanne watercolour still life.

In early 1981 I had my first solo exhibition at the Islington Public Library Gallery in Holloway Road. It was a sell out and many of my works of local buildings and streets were bought by Islington Council. It was a success and gave me the hope and motivation to continue. However, during my voluntary work with the elderly, I’d met a social worker who I’d told about my background and she told me of a part-time job going at a drug centre in the West End, saying that I could have a good chance of getting it. I went for the job and was successful. I loved it, it was a day centre for drug users and prostitutes in Rathbone Place, just off Oxford Street. We also did outreach work at night which consisted of six male workers, working in pairs going to different areas, distributing clean needles, swabs and condoms and educating users and prostitutes on safe syringe use and safe sexual practices for  health reasons and the prevention of HIV. The system for the night shift was simple, we’d go to the centre at 10pm, collect a rucksack each and fill it with syringes, antiseptic swabs, condoms and a dildo.

My area was Kings Cross where we would  meet working girls in an all night cafe on Euston Road, hand out the various items and then sit down with them, buy coffees or teas and then, with the dildo, show them how to give a blowjob without the punter knowing they were using a condom. The joke amongst the staff was that at the centre there were six different sized dildos, from small to frigging massive, whoever got there last got the monster and then had to give it a blowjob in front of 4 or 5 giggling prostitutes. I eventually got wise to this because I was often the last one to arrive at the centre, so one day I visited a sex shop and bought one that was more manageable and easier on the jaw muscles.

Reginald finally heard from the American dealer and contacted me, he had to go to New York to finalize the deal, which would be in the region of $15,000, and asked if I would like to go.  So we booked a trip and he arranged for us to stay with a friend of his in the West Village. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gallery to finalize the deal, the police were waiting, whilst the dealer had the painting in New York he’d asked an expert on Cezanne to examine it. We were charged with forgery, we got bail but our passports were confiscated. However, the law on such things was very vague and the painting was unsigned. We had a lawyer and he managed to get the charges dropped on the basis that Reginald had bought the painting in good faith and was selling it in good faith. It never got mentioned that I had actually painted it. However, during their investigations the police discovered that we both had serious criminal convictions when entering the USA. We were deported and put on a list of undesirables, unable to enter the country again. We were allowed to keep the painting and Reginald later sold it to an English dealer for £4000.

This was my first, and last, sojourn into the world of art forgery and the final event that made up my mind to get out of criminal behaviour permanently. I continued working at the drug project and also found part-time work in the Probation Service working with difficult young offenders. My route was now clear, I gradually moved away from mates who were still involved in dodgy activities and got more involved in a social life with Probation Officers and Social Workers. It was difficult at times because I often felt inadequate amongst all these university educated people, I felt awkward socially and very rarely contributed to conversations, often feeling inhibited. Consequently, I kept a small amount of contact with a few old mates. It was a schizophrenic lifestyle for a while.

This was the most difficult time in my rehabilitation and made me understand the difficulties that offenders have when trying to go straight, it takes a major change in social acquaintances to really be successful, which for many is near impossible. A real benefit from my change of lifestyle and social circle however, were female social workers, bloody hell, were they up for it, especially with a bit of rough like me! I couldn’t keep up with it, it felt at times that I was gradually shagging my way through the entire London Probation Service.

I went on to finish my degree in Sociology, I got a full-time job in the Probation Service as an assistant, I continued painting with quite a bit of success and I finally got accepted onto a Social Work qualifying course in 1986, the same  year George Graham  was appointed as  the Arsenal manager and there were nine years of success to come. My visits to Highbury increased dramatically. And during my social work course, I soon discovered the pleasures of young, horny, female social work students, I was like Winnie the Pooh with a new pot of honey! So you could say I was now a very ‘upstanding member’ of society.

2014-05-24 16:21:09

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…. I hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, the Sunday supplement that brings you the Arsenal, history, art, dildos and women of the night. What more could you want. Every Sunday morning at 9am. Just one click on your PC!

 

 

 

I walked on the Emirates pitch 34 years before Wenger. A history of heroes and villains!

 

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

I was thinking about this last week and I started to reminisce how I’d walked regularly on the Emirates Stadium pitch, across the terraces and through the dressing rooms long long before it was even a twinkle in Wengers eye. In 1972, if someone had asked me what Chorizo was I probably would have said a Brazilian footballer, I was 18 years old and working for a company called J.R.Smith and Sons, a scrap iron and steel company owned by three brothers from Camden Town, Brian, Dennis and Ronnie. I worked with Dennis, they called him ‘Dennis the menace’ and the description was perfect, he was fucking crazy and he had his fingers in many different dodgy pies.  Dennis and Brian ran the Ashburton Grove site and Ronnie had control of a sister company, the Hornsey Metal Company which was in Stroud Green. It was a business just on the limits of sculduggery and the wrong side of legal, just as you would expect from any self-respecting decent scrap metal business. If you had seen some of the blokes that would  turn up to see Dennis at our little backyard office, you could easily have thought it was a scene from Snatch. Even our office was a caravan inside a large shed.

The site started at the top end of Ashburton Grove, where the main office and weighbridge led to the entrance to the yard and then it extended right across to the top end of Queensland Road, where the entrance leading to my little caravan was in Emily Place. I dealt with the non-ferrous metals side of the business; brass, copper, lead, aluminium, zinc, burnt wire etc. I worked with a tough little Irish fella who knew how to work the weighing scales and earn us some extra cash by under-weighing and underpaying customers. Dennis was also extremely good at earning us extra cash, often buying RSJ’s as scrap iron at the lowest price per ton and then we’d sell them as re-usable RSJ beams to the building trade and split the profit, a nice little earner.

The brothers had an uncle named Wally , a bit of a charactor, who had a small scrap yard down in Hoxton, which was much more of a Steptoe & Son type of affair but it was rumoured he had formed the company on the proceeds of some heavy duty criminal activity. But he was happy just to run a small yard and let Brian, Dennis and Ronnie deal with the bigger stuff.

So this is how I managed to walk on the Emirates pitch in 1972, thirty four years before it was constructed.  When I walked from my little caravan office across the yard to the weighbridge, I literally walked across the future stadium. Back then it was a combination of mud, oil, diesel, piles of car tyres, scrap iron and steel, all churned up by roll-on/roll-off container lorries and JCB’s. I could never have imagined it would eventually become the magnificent stadium it is today, a Wenger dream that would not take shape in his brilliant mind for another 30 years. At the end of most days we’d all go for a drink in a pub on the corner of Benwell Road and Albany Place, where some of Dennis’ mates would join us and they’d discuss and conclude dodgy business deals with him. I can’t remember the name of the pub now, perhaps someone can tell me if it’s still there?

The Arsenal manager at the time was Bertie Mee and the team consisted of such legends as John Radford, Ray Kennedy, Charlie George, Frank McClintock, Peter Storey and Bob Wison. Every other Saturday afternoon, a mate and I could be found touting tickets outside the Marble Halls on Avenell Road and when we’d sold them all, we would pay a couple of quid to the bloke on the turnstile for entry into the East Stand and we’d find  empty seats to watch the match. Every Friday and Saturday night you could also find us at the Wellington pub in Mackenzie Road, selling stolen designer clothing from the boot of a Ford Cortina.

These were the halcyon days in Islington, of after hours drinking clubs in the upstairs of a pub and run by gangsters, where someone slid open a spy hole in the door and if you weren’t known, you were told to fuck off. Sometimes you would see an Arsenal player at one of these clubs, McClintock, Peter Storey and Eddie Kelly were regulars. Frank McClintock went on to form a business partnership with Harry H, a well known local con man, and they bought a pub together in Caledonian Road, which became a regular haunt for the Islington criminal underworld. Peter Storey bought a pub in Essex Road and would eventually end up doing time for his involvement in certain criminal activities. This was the Islington of Bertie Smalls (the first ever supergrass), of Reggie Dudley and Bob Maynard (aka Legal and General) and the ‘head in the public toilet’ murder. The Islington where Jamaicans had ‘blues clubs’, basically a basement in someones house where you could drink rum and dance to bluebeat and ska all night long. The IRA had control of Finsbury Park and the Archway area, and the Adams brothers were only just starting their Islington crime syndicate from a house in Barnsbury and would eventually, and violently, take over from the Reilly’s as the most feared crime gang in London. This was the Islington of my youth, where I rubbed shoulders with, and regularly had drinks with some of the most feared and dangerous criminals in London. An Islington where local villains quietly went about their business and stayed away from any form of publicity, an Islington where gangsters from other manors would not dare to encroach upon, an Islington that I have very fond memories of, and by comparison, the East End, the Krays and the Richardsons were small time.

In 1974 I was still ticket touting at Highbury and other venues, and still selling stolen designer clothing, but now it was from the boot of a Jaguar Mk2, but the scrap metal firm had started to experience financial problems. This was caused by Ronnie having gone a bit radio rental with company money from his side of the business in Hornsey. Unknown to his brothers, he’d used business funds to buy, amongst other things, a large beachhouse property in the Carribean, a yacht and a light aircraft, plus a couple of Rolls-Royces and a mansion in Hertfordshire for his mistress, by the time Brian and Dennis found out, Ronnie had spent millions and it was too late to save the company. I was in the weighbridge office when it came to blows between the three of them, Dennis and Brian would have killed Ronnie and he would have ended up in the car crusher if me and a couple of Dennis’ mates had not intervened.

I then spent a hectic 12 months regularly driving two, three, sometimes four  times a week to Teeside, West Bromwich and South Wales collecting cheques owed to us by some of the larger steel works, then speeding back down the M1 or M4 to London and paying them into the bank, some cheques totalled £150k or more, but it was still to no avail. Brian and Dennis were frantically moving money from company banks to personal accounts abroad and the business was eventually put into receivership and bankruptcy. After the business folded I continued working with Dennis and some of his associates for a while in little money making schemes but with all the company problems, his health had suffered so he eventually decided to move to Spain and live off the money he’d managed to keep hidden from the inland revenue.

I moved on to other things, some good, some bad, some disastrous, some glamorous and some downright unsavoury. However, despite having walked on the Emirates pitch 34 years before the turf was laid, before even Wenger or an Arsenal player had ever set foot on it, I’ve still not been into the new Stadium to see a game. It remains a dream, a dream which I hope to achieve very soon. And at the same time I’ll also have a drink in the pub on Benwell Road if it’s still there?

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo….. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, bringing you the hidden history of Arsenal and Islington, chorizo and copper, brass and muck. A classy publication delivered to your PC free of charge every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.

For better or for worse…. till death do us part!

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

Loyalty and staying with the same partner for life….. till death do us part! Or in this instance….. staying loyal to, and supporting the same football team for life, which when analysed, throws up all the same experiences, emotions, disappointments and joys similar to a marriage. Some people can devote their whole life to one person, for better or for worse, unfortunately I’ve not been very good at it, hence three failed marriages. But when it comes to the Arsenal……..   I’ve devoted my life to her, plus quite a substantial amount of money and emotional investment, see, just like a marriage! So how do we do it? What makes us able to stay faithful to the Arsenal for life but not always stay faithful to a partner? Can the simple word ‘Loyalty’ really convey what it means?

I took my marriage vows with the Arsenal when 8 years old and I’ve never been unfaithful to her, never once have I dipped my chorizo into another teams sauce, not yellow mustard vinaigrette, not white béchamel or creamy blue cheese. Arsenal to me is what Red thai curry is to white thai rice, what Bolognese is to spagetti, what mint sauce is to lamb, what chili is to con carni……in other words, a perfect marriage. For 52 years and hopefully for a good few more, it will only be death that eventually separates me from the Gunners and I finally go to St Peters Italian Deli in the sky. In comparison, the longest I’ve stayed with one partner is 14 years and during that time I have to admit, occasionally I dipped my spicy chorizo into a bit of tasty french mayonnaise, a well seasoned tzatziki a la grecque, a piquant chinese oyster sauce, plus, on a regular basis I got my chorizo nicely warmed in some deliciously comforting and fulfilling Lancashire Hotpot. And if you are reading this Lisa from Southport, “I still think of you!”

Some of you will call me weak, and yes, I agree, on occasion I have preferred to look for some nice sun dried tomatoes in virgin olive oil rather than eat luke warm tinned tomatoes at home. But with the Arsenal, I’ve been much stronger in my resiliation to stay faithful and loyal.

So the question is, could I be unfaithful to my Arsenal? Would it be possible on occasion to share my spicy sausage with some Tottenham kosher potato tart , a Chelsea currant bun, Cardiff Welsh rarebit or some Norwich roast mutton dressed as lamb and cheat on my Gunners? No of course not, it would be unthinkable, it would be akin to being offered perfectly cooked Smoked Duck Breasts with a Ginger butter sauce and saying, “I’d rather have some spam with ketchup.” Or being invited to dine at a three star Michelin restaurant but turning it down and going to a hot dog stand on Tottenham High Road.

I am proud to be a Gooner, my Greek Keftethes swell with pride when I tell people that the Arsenal are my team. My spicy chili sauce gets spicier when we win a game, but sometimes I’ve had to accept eating cold pizza that’s been left in the fridge for a day or two longer than it should have been.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to sample some of the best culinary delights possible, with a dash of international influence and creativity. Hollandse Nieuwe Haring, Bûche Chocolat gourmande a la Française, Irish beef in Guinness, Swedish Meatballs, Romford Pie and Mash and of course, Spanish Tapas. But on other occasions, I’ve had a plate of unsavory overcooked sludge plonked in front of me which you wouldn’t even give to your dog……. but I’ve eaten it! My analogy here is the Arsenal, not women, well, if I’m truly honest…….. Damn, I’ve been a slut sometimes! But my point is, if your wife served you a load of trollop on a plate on a regular basis, you’d start to think, “Is she the right one for me?” and “maybe I should go out and find some Steak Diane or Crêpes Suzette”. Whereas the Arsenal serve up some unappetizing fodder on a regular basis but we go back for second and third helpings and over the last few years, that would be ‘fourth’ helpings as well. This is to me the essence of fan loyalty and faithfulness, no matter what’s on the menu, you’ll eat what ever is dished up. Never thinking that there might be some ‘Cordon bleu’ somewhere down the Fulham Road in a restaurant where they change their chef as regularly as they change the table napkins.

Psycologically I’m basically a loyal person, for instance, I’m very loyal to friends and family, and also to certain commercial products, Nivea, Gauloises tobacco, Spanish chorizo, Pataks curry pastes, Heinz baked beans, pastis 51 and Durex, though nothing puts me off my meal more than having to wrap my chorizo in clingfilm! I’m also extremely loyal to the Arsenal and this begs the question, where does loyalty come from? What are the psychologically complex factors which define us as loyal followers of just one football team. Psychologists have studied the complex and opaque neurological processes which add to the psychological make up of a loyal fan. They have also spent quite some time analysing the psychology of infidelity and adultery. But it’s as complicated as the recipe and ingredients for a Marseille Boullabaisse. I may have a go at preparing it for you on another occasion.

Is it easier to commit adultery with another woman than to be unfaithful to your football team? Are the prohibited Nouvelle Cuisine menus of infidelity easier to digest than the taboo of dipping your chorizo into a cold blue piece of stringy pidgeon standing on a soggy meatball? Is loyalty to the Arsenal more powerful within us than the ability to stay loyal to a spouse?

In fact, does it ever cross our minds that we could stray from the righteous path of only  supporting the Gunners? Whereas the temptation of a juicier meal away from home may  intrude upon us from time to time, and we can sometimes give in to it. Do we sometimes look at another teams attractiveness, sexiness and charms, being overcome by lust and temptation for some forbidden fresh fruit cocktail? Would we actually take that fateful step into another teams restaurant and consume a three course ‘a la carte’ meal with all the trimmings just because we have an urge rising in our Moulinex mixers to whip up and serve some Crème Anglaise?

I think I can catagorically say no for all or at least, for most football fans on those questions. For us, fidelity to a football club is sacred, it would be sacrilage to even contemplate having an affair with another team. We would be a Prune and Port Fool. Our loyalty means we will happily accept the occassional crap dinner, knowing that there will also be times when we can savour the taste of the authentic and appetizing delicacies of well cooked football, prepared by a gourmet Chef de cuisine, tempting our tastebuds and teasing us with the delights which are to follow and if we’re lucky, ‘Silver Service’.

You may think this has all been a load of Falafel and Chocolate Profiteroles,  and you’re thinking perhaps whilst I’ve been typing it I’ve chucked far too much Côtes du Provence rosé down my neck. This may be true, but writing it has been like slipping my tongue into a Rum Cream Trifle and eating Cherries marinated in Maraschino liqueur……….  Yummy.

I, Northbank, do take you, Arsenal FC, to be my Football Team, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part. And hereto I pledge my faithfulness.

Right, time for a glass of wine and some chorizo (perhaps dipped into a creamy prawn sauce)….. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt………… et bon appétit 🙂

And don’t forget….. GunnersoreArse is always a blogging good read, every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.  Tune in and join in! But occasionally, I may be unpredictable…. and when the fancy takes me, I’ll scratch my GunnersoreArse on another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Travels in the Cevennes with a Gooner and his paintbrush

 

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

 

Scene 1: A bar in a small Cévennol village in a remote part of southern France. Sometime after Midnight.

Outside the mistral is blowing hard, gusts up to 60kmh, whistling through the quaint little streets of the village. Picking up the dust and gravel on the petanque playing area in the square and tearing at the limbs of the large plane trees. Inside there is a young couple at a secluded table, whispering sweet nothings to each other, at another table, four old men are playing cards and at the bar, an Englishman, head in  his hands. He is looking into his tall glass of pastis, watching the ice floating in the misty pale green liquid, he’s drunk, gloomy and depressed. The barman Philippe looks at him occassionally with sympathy, and tries now and again to break the silence with a small comment of consolation, but the man stays silent, oblivious to Philippes attempts at conversation. This Englishman has been in the village for about a month, an artist apparently, but Philippe has only seen him drinking at his bar, never seen him painting! The man gulps back his drink and finally speaks;

“Un autre Philippe, s’il vous plait?” he asks the barman. “Vous êtes sûr?”  replies Philippe, knowing that this so called artist has had far too many already. “Ouais, ouais” the man whispers. After living here for a month his French accent has already taken on the local southern twang. Philippe pours the golden liquid into the glass, tops it up with chilled water and drops two ice cubes into it. The man picks it up, feels the coolness of the glass in his hand, stares at it briefly, then puts it to his lips. It tastes good. His thoughts are a drunken hazy jumble, the sweet taste of  pastis in his mouth, the barman  trying to be nice to him but more annoyingly, the memories of how the evening had shattered his dreams and propelled him even further into a depressive tunnel. What the fuck went wrong he thinks, he empties his glass, looks at the barman…………. and orders another pastis.

Scene 2: The same bar, approximately 1 hour earlier:

Philippe had put the TV on earlier for the Englishman, a football match. Philippe followed Olympique de Marseille so enjoyed football, but the old boys in the bar were not so happy to have their quiet evening of cards disturbed with the noise from the TV and this bloody stranger, cursing when his team come close to scoring, shouting in his strange language and accent, “for fucks sake” and “you fucking wanker”. They carry on with their card game, trying to ignore him.

All of a sudden, the TV commentator is screaming, it’s a goal!  The card players watch the Englishman with amusement, turning away from the TV, turning back again, turning away again, both hands over his mouth, his shouts are muffled but the card players can see he is upset.  “oh No, Fuck….. fuck….. fuck”  he mumbles through his hands, “Come on, come on!”. But the referee blows the final whistle, the Englishman turns away from the TV, disconsolate and aggitated he walks to the bar, not interested in the celebrations being televised. He asks for another pastis, looks at Philippe and says, “Fuck”, the barman looks back with a sympathetic smile and a shrug, pours the drink and turns off the television. At last, the card players think, silence.

Scene 3: The same bar, approximately 3 hours earlier:

The Englishman walks into the bar, nods to a few people, shakes hands with some guys with whom he’d played petanque earlier that day and walks to the counter, orders a pastis and confirms with Philippe that it’s ok to watch the match tonight. Philippe turns on the TV and searches for the channel. The man is excited, since arriving in the village for a six month stay, it had been depressingly cold and the mistral had been blowing practically non-stop, adding to his depression. Not like he’d imagined the south of France  to be in April and May. To make things worse, his inspiration and creativity had deserted him. The main reason for coming to this remote area in the Cévennes was to paint, but he’d only managed a couple of pencil sketches in a month, the bad weather, his feelings of isolation and being alone, his inability to find inspiration, all contributing to his depression and so he had prefered to spend most of his time at the bar.

But tonight was different, football, his team are playing….. a chance to get out of his depression, confident his team will win this match. He is really looking forward to it. On the TV the teams come out onto the pitch…. he clenches a fist and mouths a little cheer, “Come on you gunners!”

Scene 4: The same bar, approximately 6 hours earlier.

The Englishman has just finished a game of petanque with some local villagers. The sun is shining and the mistral has taken a rare break. He finds a table at the  bar terrace in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth and relaxing. Philippe the barman arrives at the table, tray in hand, “Bonjour”, “Bonjour Philippe, un pastis, s’il vous plait”  As the barman starts to walk away, the man calls him back, “Philippe, le Journal des Sports aussi s’il vous plait?”.

Philippe returns with the drink and the sports newspaper. The man sips his pastis, cool and fresh, the taste of anise so much better when the sun is shining. He rolls a cigarette and lights it, taking the smoke deep into his lungs. What a life he thinks, playing petanque, drinking pastis and painting….. well, the painting was taking a bit of time to materialise, but it will come, perhaps when the weather improves. He picks up the newspaper and flicks through the pages till he comes to the football section, wondering if there will be any English football news. In his excitement of being here in France, enjoying the experience and being down and stressed about painting, he’d not given much thought to his team and is shocked to see that tonight they are playing. How could he have forgotton such an important game. He quickly checks the TV section, yes, yes….. it’s on French TV. Excitedly, he calls the barman over, “Philippe, c’est possible pour regarder le foot ce soir?””Ouais biensur, à quel heure?” the barman replies.

“À huit heure, c’est bon?” Philippe nods a yes,  it’s more of that typical French type of shrug and nod all in one movement, plus a little raise of the eyebrows. The man orders another pastis and sits back in his chair, pleased and excited, brilliant he thinks. He stays at the bar for a while, enjoying the sun and watching a game of petanque in the square, and the occasional young woman walking by in tight jeans and T shirt. He  slowly finishes his drink, puts some money on the table in payment and leaves to have something to eat. Philippe watches him depart, observing that the man has a spring in his step. Philippe goes to the table, picks up the coins and the empty glass and glances at the open page of the newspaper……….

 

 

Date: May 10th, 1995.

Headline: European Cup Winners Cup Final. Arsenal vs Real Zaragoza.


Right, time for a glass of wine and some chorizo…… hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

And remember, GunnersoreArse goes out across the blogosphere every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.

Transfer rumours, Lust and ……………….. Betty Rubble

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

So here we are then, smooth as ever! My second blog post. I can hear Yogi now, “What a mug, he’s gone back for more”.

Posted nice and early this bright and sunny Sunday morning to allow certain ‘factions’ to battle it out for FIRST place. I’ve put Betty in the title because……. well, just because, and it meant I could use an image of her!

I wonder if the telephone lines at the Emirates have been busy this week? That £150m/£100m/£50m (depending on where you get your information) must be burning a hole in Arsènes pocket.  Six  briefcases full of used £50 notes are sitting on his desk, the minders look like Mike Tyson and Lenny McLean and the tea lady has been dusting them several times a day just in case  (not the minders….. the briefcases)

The executive jet is on the tarmac, fuelled and ready to go at a minutes notice. Actually, in Arsènes world, one of bargain basement purchases, it’s a single engine Cessna bought second hand at the Romford aerodrome annual sale.

Transfer rumours have linked us with several players over the past few weeks….. and if you were to believe what some pundits and journos have been saying, then next season the Arsenal will have Griezemam, Costa and Falcao ready to run amok in the Premier League. Fabregas will probably be bought as well, but only to be used in the League cup  and to cover for any injuries. Oh, the madness of the transfer season is upon us! Deep joy. I can imagine Arsenal supporters the world over, getting out of bed at silly o’clock every morning and before having their first cup of coffee or slice of chorizo, they browse the BBC Gossip pages on the internet to see who we’ve bought. I do that, so I can imagine a few others do as well.

Rumours, where do they come from and what purpose do they serve? Well, they generally increase and have more currency during times of uncertainty and doubt (replace “times of uncertainty and doubt” for: “Arsenals transfer window”) and then you get a good picture of what a lot of Gooners experience from late May to early September. We’ve all done it haven’t we…. come on, own up. A little bit of hope, a little bit of, “now he would be a Juicy Lucy signing, can we get him please Mr Wenger”, ..drool drool dribble dribble! Lust and desire emanating from every pore in your body. Wilfried ‘willy’ Boni takes on a whole new meaning! We get a hard on, well, the Goonerettes don’t, they have their own version. Wasn’t there a band called We..       ……….. ahh better not, that would lower the tone of the blog!

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So, returning to rumours, phew! Calm yourself Northbank, get a grip! Right, where was I, oh yeah, something horny, oh no, no, it was rumours, yes, rumours……..for football fans, they serve no actual useful purpose at all, not one incy, teeny weeny little bit. Oh ok, perhaps they do, because don’t we just love reading who we might get this summer. Fantasizing  and lusting over how the team might line up on the first day of the PL, how with those players there is no way we’re not gonna win the title, the CL and the FA Cup, slaughter every team we play against, Mourinho eat your f**king heart out….. that’s what rumours do to us, get us wound up and hopeful …….. but for what, just to be let down, feeling disappointed and frustrated come September. When I was younger we used to call some girls p***k teasers. That’s a transfer rumour, it gets you drooling at the mouth and all excited, a quick feel maybe, even a wet finger, but then it leads to nothing more substantial, leaving you unfulfilled, limp and dribbling into your own underwear.

Lust is an intense attraction to something you desire and is notorious for overriding common sense and intuition in the most sensible of people. It is an altered state of consciousness programmed by a primal urge. Studies have shown that the brain in this state is much like a brain on drugs. So now we can understand why our common sense disappears when we lust after possible transfer targets. No wonder it’s been coined on some blogs as ‘Transfer Porn’.

A rumour by definition is information yet to be proven true or false, it often ends with confirming or disproving facts. But you all knew that anyway, didn’t you? A substantial amount of incorrect data and exaggerated media coverage progresses with alacrity these days and thanks to the internet and twitter feeds, it is instantaneous. The creation and spread of rumours and misinformation, especially in the context of a moral panic, is a well known social process. TV and Radio pundits, sports journalists and blogs often construct explanations to fill in missing information and offer speculative rumours. These rumours then take on a life of their own. Just think back to when you used to play chinese whispers, some details get eliminated, other information becomes highlighted and all the while filtered through the participants selective personalities, biases and situations.

 We don’t know for sure who is spreading the questionable news and writing the twitter feeds, or what makes the experts on Talksport or the BBC so expert. To deal with rumours requires an assessment of the credentials and biases of those who are disseminating the information.  The press ultimately need to sell copy, or on the internet, get hits on their sites. They use rumours within the transfer market to lure you in, they don’t care whether the rumour has substance or not, it’s not in their interests to worry about that, they just need to fill the pages. And if they can’t fill the pages, then damn lies and misinformation will surffice. And we are the mugs who hang on to every word and hope that there may be some substance to the rumour. Getting sucked into the whole merry-go-round.

I know I’m an idiot to go through all the rumours about potential Arsenal signings, I know how the press manipulate us with incorrect and exaggerated data, I know I shouldn’t get caught up in the speculation and hope that we may buy some “super dooper mega footballing acrobatic genius who will score 50 goals in a season sort of bloke”. But like so many, I’m weak, I’m lustful, I’m hopeful and I want my team to have the best possible players available. Therefore, I will sadly continue peeking into the gossip columns despite my better judgement.

I do enjoy the excitement  of doing it though, but as a consequence, I’ll have to accept the let down and disappointment, just like I had to with the girls when I was 16 years old……. dribble dribble! Now where’s my clean underwear!

Right, time for a glass of wine and some chorizo………….. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

Note from the management team:  Sunday mornings 9am GMT.  This will be the regular spot for GunnersoreArse. Make a note in your diary…. you know it makes sense.

A Sausage for all seasons

chorizo-2

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse Blog, being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line)  from The Emirates Stadium. This is my very first post. Arsenal blogs are all over the place I know but I thought why not, give it a go and I’ll try to make it more varied if possible. Perhaps including themes such as cooking and food, art appreciation, travel, wine appreciation, music, movies, female appreciation and of course male appreciation for the goonerettes, (did you see Ronaldos torso the other night when he took his shirt off) and let’s not forget Betty Rubble. I’ll  even throw in the occassional game of Bingo, just to make it more exciting.

I would like it to be mainly about the Arsenal but all suggestions will be considered, within reason. If I know anyone from another blog I would appreciate you using the same name…… so I know who is making the comment or leaving feedback. I sincerely hope discussions (if any) are conducted with reasonable responses and calmness.

So onto the main theme, The Arsenal – FA Cup winners 2014………… don’t that look good in print, after nine long years. As I’m a blogging virgin, and I’ve started it on a bit of a whim, I’ve prepared nothing of substance to discuss. So this first post may be something of a incoherent ramble….. but stick with me.

Having been a supporter of this great club for such a long time…… a very, very, long time, I often reflect on what a roller coaster ride it has been. From moments of pure ecstasy to moments of sheer disallusionment and wretchedness. I suppose the latter have been the most common but then, without  the moments of desolation, the ecstasy wouldn’t be as intense. On occasion, I have a tendancy to get far too serious about the Arsenal and often have to step back slightly, count to ten and rethink things through. The internet has opened up a whole new world for people but it’s a world where caution is neccessary. Discussing the Arsenal is extremely emotional and personal. On the internet is rather different to personal encounters and it is easy to get drawn into arguements. When someone disagrees with you about something that you hold dear, first reactions can often be strong, passionate and negative. You can feel yourself getting angry and upset.

I remember going to Leeds in the 1970/71 season with my older brother, I was just approaching my 17th bithday and a bit hot-headed. It was close to the end of the season, most of the season had seen us and Leeds sharing the top spot. It was very close, by the time we went to Yorkshire, we were just one point above them with a game in hand, if we won that match, the title was ours. Emotions were high, I was so tense and strung out with the possibility of  seeing us win the first title in my Arsenal supporting life. We were on the terraces surrounded by Leeds supporters, after  90 minutes it was still 0-0 and we were into injury time when it happened, Jackie Charlton got the winner for Leeds just seconds before the final whistle. (a big question mark as to whether he was off-side) but then BOOM,  the red haze overtook me…………..I wanted to fight the world, I was in tears, trying to grab hold of a Leeds supporter and vent my anger, my brother was trying to get hold of me to drag me away, other Leeds supporters were grabbing my brother…. it was pandemonium. We were encircled by Leeds supporters, but I remember quite clearly, even to this day, a massive bloke grabbing hold of me and saying,  “Calm down Laddie, you’re upset”. I can visualize his face even now, he must have been a miner because he had those blue/grey scars on his face which miners get when coal dust gets into cuts. Luckily I calmed down quickly, (didn’t have much choice considering the size of the bugger) emotions subsided and on the way out of the ground we actually had conversations with some of the Leeds supporters who 10 minutes earlier, I wanted to batter, but who probably would have battered me. In the end the defeat was just a small set back, just over a week later we won the championship  at White Hart Lane, beating the Spuds 1-0 and a few days after that, we  completed the double by beating Liverpool at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. Charlie was my darling!

I know we went on to do better things under George Graham and Arsène Wenger, but those two weeks in 1971 hold a very special place in my heart. Winning the League at White Hart Lane and then winning the FA Cup , for our first ever double….. magical times. I can actually recall those memories better than more recent glory… must be an age thing.

So my little unplanned ramble is over, even just remembering that night in Leeds has got my heart beat racing,….. this is what being a football supporter does to you, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Over the next couple of months I think I will do some reviews of Arsenal players and their performances during the World Cup. Intermingled with some recipes which include spicy chorizo, probably cooked in some form of alcohol!

Anyway, not sure how often I will post. Probably once a week for the moment. Also, as I’m new to blogging, I’m not sure how the comments section will work….. whether like other blogs you need to create a name, leave your email address and then get allocated a funny face avatar. I’ll have to wait to see what happens. I’ve done some twiddling with the settings so sausages crossed.

Right, time for a glass of wine and some chorizo….. Hope you enjoyed your visit, until the next time.  à bientôt!