by Tony Attwood (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last night I went to my local jive club and had a number of extremely pleasant dances with Elaine who works in a senior medical post at the local hospital.
I mention it because it was a very enjoyable evening, during the course of which I didn’t think about Arsenal. The 7-5 win over Reading is over, I’ve watched the iplayer version twice, I’m not ready to try and work out who, if anyone, we have available for the Manchester United match amidst all the injuries, and anyway I’ve had enough of the doom and disaster stories.
Elaine danced beautifully, she told me about the vital work she does in medicine, and I blurbled a bit about Untold, the books like “Making the Arsenal” and my life in advertising.
And that is what life is – being places, doing things, having fun. It is what most of us manage to do most of the time.
Two percent of Arsenal fans (apparently) left the Reading game at 4-0 down shouting “we want our Arsenal back”.
Two percent of the shareholders present at the AGM voted against the re-election of the board. Shock horror, tidal waves, the moon collides with the earth, the end of civilisaton etc.
Both events (the Reading game and the AGM at Arsenal) combined with those mentioned here in recent days (ref charged with racist comments, Serbia arrests England internationals etc etc etc) just makes me think… well, actually I don’t know what it makes me think. But they make me think.
I support Arsenal because my mum and dad and their families supported Arsenal, because we were a north London family, and you either supported Tottenham or Arsenal. That was it. Tribal.
I still support Arsenal, but the media, aptly aided by the blogs have bought into this supporter revolt scheme, for getting that there was a strong Anti-Arsenal movement even at the Manor Ground in the 19th century.
Yes the revolet is nothing new. Remember the “Arsenal have had 50 red cards since Wenger arrived”… that story (with obviously the total varying from time to time) ran for ages. No one actually checked that the number was right, no one compared with the number of red cards from anyone else. The story was actually a load of old cobblers.
Same with the “years without a trophy”. Technically it is correct, but as Wenger said, if we had beaten Birmingham and had our trophy, but not ended up in the top four that season, what then? Birmingham, as you may know, are now on the slippery slope, and last I heard the auditors had resigned because they couldn’t get hold of the figures. Expulsion from the league because of failure to submit accounts is a possibility. Money laundering, broken promises of wealth, disappearing directors… Ah but never mind. They won the league cup.
It all comes down to priorities, and the way you see your world.
Life is out there – it happens – it is real (unless you are a member of one of those cults that thinks that it is all a fantasy and we are all of us stuck inside a video game being played on a galactic scale).
What changes between us is the interpretation of events. I interpret life (at least today) as being OK. Good, even. A great dance last night and the chance of another tonight following a text from Lorraine saying she and her pals are going to a dance in Bedford tonight and hopes to meet me there. (No, I don’t have a lady in every town that has a dance hall, I just like dancing and fortunately I am moderately good at it – as opposed to football at which I am crap).
The fact is I can go and watch the Arsenal and they lose and I get a bit down. I watch them win the most incredible league cup match of all time, and I get rather up. The Reading boss said something like it being the worst night of his life. Same match. Same reality. Different lens.
Arsenal is central to my life, but it is not all my life. Jive is central to my life, but not all my life. Somewhere, somehow we need a balance, which takes us away from football being more than life, from half of football being fought in the courts, from 2% of fans leaving at half time and making the headlines. From the racism and the homophobia.
Put another way: it is not a case of “I want my Arsenal back” but of “I want my fun back.”
If you watch the film of the Arsenal end at Reading when the fifth goal went in you will see total joy, delirium, excitement, enthusiasm and above all screaming disbelief. If those of us who jive regularly were filmed you would see smiles and pleasure as we meander around the dance floor trying to express in wrist and arm movements exactly what the hell we are going to do next. Less emotion maybe, but still lots of pleasure.
There is no pleasure when Arsenal lose, or when a dance turns out to be less exciting than I had hoped. But it is life. Life is like this. Stuff happens. The aim is to be happy some of the time.
We are all of us somewhere looking through a lens and interpreting the results. We all of us see things in different ways. But that does not mean we have to descend into the sort of stuff involving court processes, demands for the manager’s head, arrests of players, or anything else. We can campaign against Fifa, but still smile.
Everyone is somewhere most of the time. It is just that for some of us that somewhere is a) varied and b) not something that turns us into raging racists or people who will demand another man loses his job just because we are 4-0 at half time.
There is so much more to life than walking out of a ground shouting abuse at the manager after 45 minutes, or voting against the reappointment of members of the Arsenal board. There is a world out there. Most of us are in it, having fun some of the time. Sadly, some people are not.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”: crowd behaviour at the early matches