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Wasn’t it Herbert Chapman who said that just when you’re feeling fairly down, fate pops along and throws a cold kipper in your face?

By Dr Billy McGraw, Fellow of the Institute of Certain Things and Resident Psychologist at the North Circular Road Hospital, Southgate with special responsibility for football fans who want the club they claim to love to fail.

“The human race, to which a number of my patients belong, has been playing children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.”

Thus spake GK Chesterton, and how right he is, as I was reminded on doing my clinic this week in the build up to the “new season.”

Because of the cuts in the NHS my consulting room has now been moved from the main hospital into the near-by Toppled Bollard public house, and I have to say I found the chance of a change most conducive, enabling some of my more difficult patients to “open up”.

My specialism brings me primarily into contact with patients who have what we psychologists call “Views”.   The worst cases have “Fixed Views”.

The very worst cases have “Fixed Views” on everything, from the activities of the manager, a Mr Wenger, through to the line up that might or might not occur this “opening weekend.”   From the way in which one should address a passing Tottenham fan who comes along the street, to the correct response on seeing something you disagree with on a blog.

Now for some mild cases, such a situation is not too difficult, and a few boxes of Marzipan a day usually fixes the problem.  But for some who have had “Fixed Views” for more than a few months, the situation is serious and can result in one believing that the Seven Sisters Road outside the tube station is a charming example of post-modern chic design, and a desirable place to eat a bag of crisps.

Such folk (“Viewers” in technical psycho babble) have “Views” which become disconnected from their own wants, thus causing much grievousness, teeth gnashing, depressive conjunctions of the liver, and the tendency to play the later music of Roy Orbison.  In footballing terms, the desire builds up that Arsenal, a footballing team to which purport to offer their support, should lose, and in losing should then sack everyone, bring in new people throughout the club, and then automatically win everything without any of the other clubs responding in any coherent manner.

I try to counsel these people with bon mots and mots justes, but some less linguistically experienced than me do become molto agitato as we say in the medical world.  However the appearance of Mrs Dog (motto: “If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it ain’t been in the microwave long enough”) persuades all but the terminally attached to West Ham (two stops from Barking) to calm down.

“It is not the easiest thing in the world,” I tell the few with “Fixed Views” with whom I can actually communicate.  “The only way out is,” I add, provocatively, “to generate very high positive feelings, but first you have to get rid of your fixed views”, or “Fixed Views” as we prefer to say.   “Remember,” I add, solto voce.

“But,” said one terminally fixed viewer, and of course we can only agree.

“Simplicity my dear fella-me-lad,” I said to that particular soul, adopting the vernacular.  “Ask genuine open questions.  Not questions that imply any sort of meaningful meaning, because life by and large is meaningless except where you make it so.  Be happy and your world is happy.  Be a miserable sod, and your world is miserable.

“Remember it is not the the world that causes reality, but the way that we see the world.  Snarl not, use not sarcasm, and handle irony with the lightest of touches.  We are post-modern and soon that will be past as we move into the past-post-modern, but still irony is a dish best tasted with a large Merlot.

It was at this moment that I paused for a sip of what I considered to be definitely not Merlot provided by the innkeeper as a method of keeping me lucid during the rigours of the oration, and thus disaster struck. I was talking to Bob “the Spider” Fanshawe-Hughes, a lower north bank regular.  He was, I noticed, wearing a t-shirt carrying a picture of a large hammer with the moving text, “This is not a drill”, writ large underneath.

I giggled a little as this petit jeu de mots tres drole as we say in Iceland, but unfortunately found I was still holding my glass of wine, and my chortling resulted in some of the inferior plonk finding its way from my glass, in a downward manner, onto the Spider’s jacket.

A growl arose from the Spider’s larynx, which I gathered was his way of demanding an apology.

Now I must admit that by and large I don’t apologise. The best patients don’t seek apologies, while the wrong sort tend to take advantage of such offerings and inevitably move on to demanding a loan of my season ticket so that they can abuse the players from within the stadium.

As commotion flowed outward from the Spider I thought it best to cut my clinic short. “Rule one,” I shouted above the rising din, “is to be entertaining, informative and interesting when down the pub so people buy you a drink.  There is no rule two but rule three is never to talk about yourself when there is a psychologist in the room.”

It was only as Harry the Hampster cleared up the debris after the sundry emergency services had left that we found the Spider propped up in a chair, looking rather like a member of the Tottenham Hotspur second XI, who, after doing the round of strangling his mother, divorcing his wife, and throwing his only friend into the reservoir, finds out that the pub has run out of vodka.

I had but one patient left and he asked me what he should avoid.  I gave him a clear answer.

“Do not say,” I said, “‘Is this meant to be funny’?”  It is a sure sign.  Do not be abusive or depressed.  Do not resort to criticising any view of the world that you don’t like as a conspiracy theory.  A conspiracy involves two or more people getting together to make a plan.  That is what life by and large is, so get on with it and enjoy it.  Smile – that helps too.

“Football is not more important than life and death just because some old Scouser said so.   Nothing is.  Also BI.”

“BI?” he asked curiously.

“Beware initials,” I said.

And so finally, to the game.  Dennis Bergkamp and I met at the Cambridge Road allotment after my clinic, as is our wont, dug up some carrots, and tossed back a few beers and a bacon sandwich.  He thinks we’ll stroll it.  So do I.

And there I think you have it.  Quite simply, if your team loses, you are in the wrong universe.

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44 comments to Wasn’t it Herbert Chapman who said that just when you’re feeling fairly down, fate pops along and throws a cold kipper in your face?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I just don’t know where to start , Billy The Doc , the beginning would be apt methinks .
    In my practice , I get many patients who could have sued for malpractice if not for the fact that they sought (or were subjected )to treatment by their own kin .On questioning they admit that have no formal (or informal)training ,but got said information off the internet or from of a friend of a friend. Does that sound familiar ?
    On the subject of Fixed Views ,I’d always suggest good breathing technique ,plenty of water (to dilute all that ale), lots of sunshine( or at the very least to mix with persons of a sunny disposition),avoidance of negative blogs and of course mucho, mucho roughage. Prunes work !
    Caffeine in moderation is recommended and never too early.
    True story – I had to manually evacuate the impacted stools of a seven month old child ,whose grandmother thought it was a good idea to give her a sip or two of coffee .Talk about shifting bricks !

  • colario

    @Brickfields. I was drinking a cup of coffee when I read your post. Just thought you might like to know that – I’m on my way to the loo – pronto!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m so sorry Colario , I keep forgetting the time difference. Hope nothing untoward had happened to Nicky and his rice krispys !
    In future I’ll place a Medic Alert notice at the beginning of my posts .

    MEDIC ALERT – Testing ! Testing ! I think it works !
    Everybody stop eating now ! You have been warned !

    You know you are a doctor ….

    … when you sip your martini with 1940s jazz in the background as a new acquaintance at the party engages you in a warm conversation about his recent change in bowel movements.

    … when you enjoy talking about an exploration of the thoracic cavity while eating a juicy steak…and don’t understand why everybody else is upset about the conversation.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Billy , I think this could be useful for your future cases –

    The Medical Division of UA recommends everyone to watch this.

    Doctor Patient Communication – The Universal Upset Patient Protocol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1YsNGupQhI&feature=youtu.be

    Very sound advice for doctors .
    But what if it were irate/
    upset/uncouth AAAs on this website ? How would you respond ? Use your imagination for these salient points. In my mind I can imagine the regulars laughing a riot !

    1) You look really upset .
    2) Tell me about it .
    3) I am so sorry that happened to you / you feel that way .
    4) What would you like me to do to help you .
    5) Here’s what I suggest we do .
    6) Thanks for telling me how you are really feeling .

  • sukebe

    Bricksfield… LOL

    My laughter cuts my belly so hard…

    This article should be handed out at every arsenal game.

    So..

    Tell me what is bothering you?

  • Pete

    Happy new season everyone! Enjoy the game today…

  • marcus

    lol… Arsenal no penalties in an entire season.

    2 conceded in the first game already.

    “It’s a rigged game” as Gerald Celente would say about the markets.

    Koscielny laughed. Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

  • Will

    The wenger out crowd will be out in force

  • marcus

    Who cares?

  • Tasos

    Brand new season, same old decisions.

    Bent, crooked, corrupt. Welcome to the EPL 2013/14.

  • Will

    The ref has been diabolical to say the least

  • marcus

    Zombie banks, Zombie Companies, Zombie economy, Zombie football….

    welcome to Zombieville

  • Will

    Still fuming at the thought of all the money in the bank and us being short on cover ffs like we didn’t know.

  • Mahdain

    They couldn`t have waited until we were midway the season before shafting us…utter twats PGMO are

  • Persian Gunneer

    this is mental!
    they are obviously destroying Arsenal by this game!
    if I was in the place of mr wenger, i would pull the team out of the pitch now!

  • dan

    Well this could be stick needed, it’s no ones fault but our own!!!

  • Persian Gunneer

    obviously, they are trying to put the manager under pressure
    I hate this football!
    2 penalties and a red card for our best defender!
    I really hate football!

  • marcus

    Maybe a couple of fatalities would get the team going (joking)

  • Will

    Another battering is needed and to be knocked out by fernebache will show this tyrant his time us well and truly up go screw yourself u fucking loser

  • andy bishop

    I thought we played well and in great spirit……but!!!!. The referee was shocking but cannot blame it on him. We lack top class quality up front. Giroud works really hard but his first touch is awful for a top premier league side. One positive is the return to form of Rosicky

  • marcus

    The good thing Mahdain is that you don’t have to waste half a season getting your hopes up…lol

  • Will

    Haha the boos ring out around the emirates with wenker running away as quickly as possible, what excuses this time?

  • Tony is going to be very busy today to contain the happiness and excitement of the AAA. They must really love today’s referee.

    Please knock yourselves out. It’s a great day for enemies of Arsenal.

  • Rufusstan

    Almost in tears.

    How can you have both a really food performance, and at the same time a clear signal that we are not going to be allowed to win.

    Obviously the second penalty was the crucial moment, but two standards were at play throughout the game. One for Arsenal; one for Villa.

    Not sure what else to say.

  • Will

    The only thing to say is wenger is finished.. Simple. Ref W’s shocking yes but you can’t make up shit like today

  • Yassin

    first of all, if anyone is gonna blame on anything except the ref then he is not an Arsenal fan. How could any one see this so obvious bias and still don’t get fumed at it, and call him self a fan.
    Now i want to know just right now an answer from you @will, and don’t go into the spend bullshit in answering, why is it always we on the negative side of the bias? do you accept what you saw?

    If Wenger goes on and bring Ibra, Messi, Ronaldo, and 25 new top class world beater player, he wont win a thing. cause every time we have the ball we are fouled in the middle of the park, and off coarse until 6 to 7 fouls he the referee will show the first yellow card.

    We started brilliantly and then out of a sudden he did tilt the game.

    @Walter, Tony am not in a good mood for those who come here and start the utter crap bullshit about us not spending and all this. please i want them banned for today only.

    AND YES I WANT JUSTICE ON THE FIELD FOR GOD SAKE

  • mk

    Idiots blaming this on Wenger, it doesn’t matter if we had signed Suarez, Rooney, fabregas and Messi we still would have lost with that refereeing performance.. the ref would have just had to try a bit harder to screw us over, as if it already wasn’t blatant enough.

  • colario

    This ref will go far in his profession.

  • marcus

    The Double Standard Rufusstan, Arsene originally thought it meant winning the League and the FA Cup, but now his understanding of the English is more developed…

  • dan

    We need reinforcements, upfront for sure. Wiltshire for me seems too slow for our free flowing football, the ref was poor boarding being bent!!

  • Yassin

    and forget not the foul in the middle of the park to give the villa team to reorganize and park the bus.
    WHERE THE FUCK IS THE YELLOW CARD AS ACCORDING TO THE FUCKING LAW?

    @ Will you are a real Muppet, what are you fucking enjoying when We lost? man get off here

  • dan

    @Will
    Just leave the forum.

  • Sammy The Snake

    The inevitable happened. Let’s face reality. We lost to Arsenal, again. The ref was horrible, but we didn’t deserve anything out of this game.

    Who do we have to play for next game anyway?

  • GoonerVance

    Two horse shit calls. Complete horse shit. But the fans didnt just decide to start chanting “spend some fucking money” that is how we have been feeling this entire time. The fans were just polite enough to pretend that we have a shot. It wasn’t until the third went in that everybody realized:

    “I pay the highest fucking prices for tickets in ENgland, and this guy hasn’t spent a penny all summer? Sagna is playing LB, Ramsey is playing CB, Szczesny is still making inexperienced mistakes, and Agbonlahor can dance his way through our midfield without getting put on his arse? SPEND SOME FUCKING MONEY!!!!”

    Yeah this isnt Wenger fault, but Ramsey shouldn’t have to play CB tho. And that third killed us off. Should have had Ashley Williams in ages ago.

    The boys took it to a higher lever once we went down 2-1. Where is that intensity at the beginning of the game? I’ll tell you where. No ambition. This club doesn’t have it. We fight when we are in a corner but not until then. Until then we go as far as our talent takes us, and that does not make a championship side,

  • GoonerVance

    Two horse shit calls. Complete horse shit. But the fans didnt just decide to start chanting “spend some fucking money” that is how we have been feeling this entire time. The fans were just polite enough to pretend that we have a shot. It wasn’t until the third went in that everybody realized:

    “I pay the highest fucking prices for tickets in ENgland, and this guy hasn’t spent a penny all summer? Sagna is playing LB, Ramsey is playing CB, Szczesny is still making inexperienced mistakes, and Agbonlahor can dance his way through our midfield without getting put on his arse? SPEND SOME FUCKING MONEY!!!!”

    Yeah this isnt Wenger fault, but Ramsey shouldn’t have to play CB tho. And that third killed us off. Should have had Ashley Williams in ages ago.

    The boys took it to a higher lever once we went down 2-1. Where is that intensity at the beginning of the game? I’ll tell you where. No ambition. This club doesn’t have it. We fight when we are in a corner but not until then. Until then we go as far as our talent takes us, and that does not make a championship side,

  • mk

    Not to mention every time Arsenal were fouled [and it was so obvious he had to call it] and had advantage the ref called it back for a free kick in a worse position.. you just couldn’t make it more obvious if you tried.

    We probably can’t overturn Koz’s sending off either as it was for a second yellow?, but was there even any contact on the ‘second’ foul?

  • GoonerVance

    sorry for double post

  • andy bishop

    Its not Wengers fault…he is building a team and this is the first year he has not lost any top players and its the first year Arsenal have lost their first home fixture since the early 90’s. Surely its about how we bounce back..that is the measure of a good side. Cheer up lets have a rousing chorus of Good old Arsenal and I am off to watch Michelle Wie putting…its only a game…oh!!! last one out slip the ref 500 as agreed

  • john L

    let me first say that the ref was absolutely shocking. the second penalty was a game changer, and for me a terrible call. he did very little to penalize the rotational fouling from villa throughout the game, while holding a fairly strict rule over arsenal. very very poor…

    but what else can we say?

    i dont think that ramsey and wilshere can play as the base in a 4-2-3-1. maybe with more maturity they will be able to, but as i mentioned on here after the galatasary match, i think they are both ‘box-to-box’ midfielders. when they are the base of the midfield they leave the defense exposed. to get the best out of them i think we have to play 4-1-2-3 as we do when arteta is in the team. this allows them to cover the pitch pressing and moving for the ball, while arteta proves an easy outlet and pulls the strings as the deep lying playmaker.

    this is an area that i feel we need to strengthen. not necessarily the typical hard man DM, but someone who reads the game well and has astute passing. when arteta is out of the team, this seems to be a gap in the squad.

    wilshere needs to play more early passes, settle possession more often, and run with the ball less. his penetrating runs are part of his game, but he needs to be more decisive with his timing of them to be effective. i felt he had a poor game today, and needs to focus on his game as a passing playmaker. he gets fouled an awful lot so he needs to learn to move the ball on quicker. particularly if he is playing as the base in the midfield as losing out in those areas of the pitch provide the opposition with dangerous transitional phases.

    we need to work on our crossing in order to get the best out of giroud. not just the accuracy of them, particularly from the full backs, but also the movement and runs into the box. out attackers need to have better timing making late runs into the box, attacking the cross. to often our crosses aim at players who are static and jumping with a defender, having not held their run. Or giroud makes the near post run to drag the DC but the midfielders and wide attacker are not charging into the space behind.

    its a painful result, but i do think the result hinged on the poor ref rather than a terrible performance by arsenal. the second penalty call was atrocious, and the koscielny red was also harsh seeing as the first foul should never have been a yellow, and in light of not penalizing the numerous ‘small’ fouls from villa that disrupted the flow of the game. shocking, the ref should never be the difference between the teams and the result, but sadly it so often is….

  • Rufusstan

    Having calmed down a bit, two things stay with me from the game:

    In the first half, when Giroud rolled free of the Villa defender jumping at him (by the touchline on the left, in their final third). The look on his face when the ref penalizes him is priceless (and anyone who can lipread will see how well he has adapted to England).

    Sadly (and maybe obviously) the other is watching Kos’ face after the tackle that apparently was the second penalty. The succession of emotions he shows says it all.

  • nicky

    Andy,
    From a distance I can’t tell the difference between the the outfits of Europe girls and their caddies.

  • Will

    It’s not wenger’s fault that he had three months to sign players is it? Stop bullshit people

  • Will

    Could we have won the game with the players that were on the pitch today? That’s for me the real question. And I say yes. After that, if we do not spend the money, it’s because we do not find the players. I’m not the only one to work on that. We are a team who work on that. We are ready to buy the players if we find that the players are good enough for us. That’s all we can tell you.”Ok except, 1) We didn’t win the game with the players we had on the pitch today, so either they aren’t good enough, or you as a manager and coach aren’t good enough. And 2) Find players that are good enough… like Higuain? Or Cesar? Or Fellaini? Or Gustavo? “People always say ‘buy players, buy players, buy players’. When you tell them ‘tell me who?’ it becomes much more problematic.”I find it insane how then no one pulls him up on a list of players that we’ve been linked with, world-class players at that, especially with the shambles of a transfer that was Higuain.

  • andy bishop

    Nicky,

    Amazing!!! I was thinking exactly the same. I have some guidance though to avoid confusion and situations that the referee found himself in yesterday not knowing the difference between a foul and a good tackle and invert his thinking in relation to light blue shirts. The golfer girls I am reliably informed have shaved tanned legs and the caddies are the ones that lift up their balls to regularly clean them.