In a tearful and emotional statement, Billy The Dog McGraw, landlord of the Toppled Bollard, just off Gillespie Road, today denied that he had had any close or passionate relationship with golf master Tiger Woods.
“It is stupid to suggest I could do such a thing,” said Billy over a pint of vodka. “Do I look like a Barbie Doll?”
Commentators however were not convinced. “He’ll have to do better than that,” said Mines A’Pint of the Daily Mail. “Just saying ‘it isn’t me’ never convinced a blind Venezuelan in a playground full of dancing fish. We had that Andrew Arshavin in the office yesterday denying that he was the lead dancer in the Saigon opera before signing for Arsenal. As if we’d fall for a simple denial. I want substance, I want facts, I want a story and some glue to sniff.
“In the world of the modern post-modernist mass modern media you need proof if you want to convince the contemporary digital journalist. I’ll have another if you please. You take the Fabregas. He keeps saying he is not going to Barca, but its in the papers every day, so it must be true. Make it a double. Make sense?”
“But is it likely that a 6 foot 4, 20 stone Irishman like Billy the Dog would be the lover of the world’s most famous hitter of white balls?” I demanded.
“The digitally aged modern messiah of news doesn’t deal in the likely,” said Makeit Adouble of the Express, barging in somewhat unnecessarily, I felt. “We are men of science, seeking out the truth, the reality, the down-to-earth, bare-knuckle enchantedness of Irish pixie life and the Glaswegian bloodhound. A possibility becomes a probability when looked at through the Large Hadron Collider, and that Billy McGraw has Hadron all over his face unless I am very much mistaken.”
I looked for help at the man from the Mail, but he was doing a Swedish jig with a one armed bandit who had just strolled in and was demanding the day’s takings from the lady behind the bar.
“It is a bit like telling me that Sagna didn’t used to work in a sausage factory run by a long lost relative of Dr Crippen, if you get my drift. The story will out, the truth will be told, deviance is a disaster, PR is…”
“Short for public relations?” I asked.
He chose to ignore me. “Look at Tiger Woods. Everyone knew he was having affairs.”
“Then why didn’t you print the stories?” I demanded.
“Couldn’t could we? Sponsor deals, private agreements, good for the game, special for sport, honour of the sportsman, devil in the detail, dog is a man’s best friend, don’t count your counters before the chickens come home from Chechnya, ” replied the journalist.
“You mean your paper would lose advertising revenue if you upset the applecart and challenged Woods’ image?” I asked.
“That’s an outrageous allegation,” he replied. “Just make it a pint of that Chardonnay if its cold.”
It was clear that I would get nowhere with this bunch so I went back to consoling Billy, and we sat, two sad old men, in Finsbury Park, and considered the game against the pool of liver.
“In goal,” said Billy, “we’ll have a goalkeeper,” and I felt we couldn’t go wrong on that.
“Then a back four, which will include Traore, what with him being recovered and all,” and again I was in agreement.
“Middle three picks themselves,” he continued. “Denilson, Song, Cesc. Backup from Ramsey.”
“Which leaves us with?”
“Everyone else is injured – that’s the rule of the Bent English Premier League. Arsenal scoring too many goals, nobble the strikers. Stricken stricker stubs self severely says Slingsbury.”
“Who is Slingsbury?” I asked. Billy shrugged.
“Nasri’s not injured,” I ventured, wishing as always to get the truth for Untold Arsenal.
“They’re all injured except Nasri,” growled Billy.
“Theo’s not injured.”
“And Theo,” said Billy. “But Arshavin has a knock, Eduardo has not fully recovered, Bendtner’s got a headache, Van Persie has a broken fingernail, and my old man’s a dustman.”
I took us back to the straight and narrow. “But there is also Gilbert, Mérida, Randall, Silvestre, Walcott, Senderos, Wilshere, Vela, Watt. And Diaby could be back.”
“They’re not all forwards,” said Billy, and we strolled into the Whippet and Baskerville to order a pint apiece and settled down to watch the football results.
“They don’t build pubs like this any more,” said Billy. “Where’s the Deceived Duchess?”
“That was in Plumstead,” I said, “and they pulled it down in 1919. Read the book.”
I took out an envelope and wrote on the back
- Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore (Silvestre in reserve)
- Denilson, Fabregas, Song (Ramsey, Mérida and Diaby in reserve)
- Arshavin, Eduardo, Nasri (Theo and Vela in reserve, Eduardo’s fitness not being certain)
“I’ll tell you something,” said Billy. “That Wenger – he knows a thing or three. He predicted the clubs near the top would drop pints and they did.”
“I think he said they would drop points,” I said. “But you are right. Manchester were Untidy, the Totts were very Tiny, and the KGB were obviously too busy interrogating people to know what was going on.”
“Aston Villa are thrid in the league,” said Billy.
“Thrid?” I asked.
“Do pay attention,” said Billy, “this is the Year of the Twerping Eror.”
We made for the door and headed back to the Toppled Bollard.
“2-1 to the Arsenal,” said Billy.
“Hat-trick for Theo,” I agreed. “For the final goal the ball hits the ref and then bounces on a hillock that appears in the goalmouth caused by a group of bankers trying to tunnel their way out of the ground with the day’s gate receipts. The ball then pings backwards from whence it came, hits the Liverpool player who is not feeling well after a pint of whelks at half time, shoots up onto the cross bar and then bounces back, hits the ref on the back of the neck and rolls over the line. The linesman with the puce and maroon flag is made man of the match.”
“Who will be BBC Sports Personality of the Year?” Billy demanded.
“Patrick Moore,” I said.
“Sounds reasonable,” said Billy. “We’d better place a bet.”
“No one will let us in,” I told him, but he had that wicked look in his eye and we headed back down the street. As Billy barged into the Bollard he shouted, “Anyone give me 50 to one on Tottenham and Manchester United losing?”
There were shouts from Fleet Street’s finest, and the deal was struck. None of them realised the results had already come in.
“Have you heard there’s a witches coven set up on the Tottenham centre circle?” Billy asked the man from the Star.
“Did it two weeks ago,” the man from the Star replied. “That and the talking dog who plays centre forward for Scunthorpe.
“Tough life,” said Billy, as I bade my farewells. “Now would anyone like a copy of next week’s results?”
Postscript: If you found any of this even fractionally amusing you might enjoy MAKING THE ARSENAL. A new review of the book is on the Online Gooner site. It’s at http://www.onlinegooner.com/exclusive/index.php?id=1429
You can buy the book via amazon.co.uk where there are more reviews or direct from the publishers (with a request for the author to sign if you like) at www.woolwicharsenal.co.uk
I went Christmas shopping today – I think it has affected my frontal lobes. Came home and had the strangest dream that Man IOU and the Totts lost and the KGB drew. Must have been that coffee I had in Starbucks. Anyway, who wants a blog that is just like everyone else’s?
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
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