All the words you can’t call a Tottenham supporter

In case you have missed it, the forces of darkness have been out in, well, force.  Our club has been threatened with legal action for failing to cut out anti-semitic chanting.  The most prestigious Gooner web site has been closed following threats of legal action.  And there have even been threats against one of our most treasured discussion groups of, yes you got it, legal action. 

All of this seems to relate to the use of what aficionados of the situation call the “Y Word”.  Now the “Y Word” is a bit like the “F Word” that they mention on the BBC.   However, as from tomorrow we won’t be able to say the “Y Word” either.  If you do you will be personally be closed down.    So now we have to find another word. Such a search for letters and words has a long and honourable history.  The fascist dictatorship of generals that ruled Greece in the 1960s first banned the “Z Word”, and then finding that wasn’t enough, banned the letter “Z”.  There was a great movie made about it, called “Z” – catch it if it comes around again – quick before it is banned. Thomas Pynchon – arguably the greatest American writer of the second half of the 20th century got it too – with his novel “V” – in which it is suggested all the evils of the world stem from the letter V.   He wrote that in 1961 – we knew a thing or two in the 60s. Anyway, the Y word is now out, closely to be followed by “Y”.  So we must quickly find another word for supporters of the Tiny Totts – a word that we can use, and which they can use (remembering that they too use the now banned “Word that starts with a letter between X and Z”.) 

One idea that came up early on was to call all fans of the Tiny Totts, “Do It Yourself”, and everyone seemed happy with that, until someone took the initials, turned them around and didn’t like the result. There have been other attempts that leave out the forbidden 25th letter of the alphabet – such as Biddo, Siddo, Diddo (that being objected to, because an “l” got added, and so that word was banned). 

Moving on we have “Folostalplug”, a word that seems to express at once the extreme silliness of both the Tiny Totts and the campaign.  I quite like “Folostalplug” – as it doesn’t include the penultimate letter of the alphabet, and yet seems in just four syllables to show exactly what the “club next to Leyton” is all about.  But it didn’t catch on.  (Can’t think why). After that we found “Pleat-o”.   Now I really did like this.  As you may recall the Tiny Totts manager was cautioned for kerb crawling near Kings Cross, and the Sun ran the story on the front and back pages.  The following Saturday almost every Arsenal supporter at Highbury wore David Pleat t-shirts – oh how we laughed. 

So “Pleat-o” does seem to work.  It means that “this is a club that employs a man who could get himself into the position of being cautioned by the police for kerb crawling at Kings Cross while being manager”.   Which is quite good.   And it means, “in saying ‘Pleat-o” I am actually saying a word that the powers of censorship will not allow me to say, but I’m thinking it anyway and what are you going to do about that? But just as we thought there was going to be a settlement of the issue, along came another idea.   After the very first outing of “Pleat-o” the chant got transformed.  (This is not uncommon – the Ade song got changed from “Give him the ball and Ade will score” to “Give him the ball and he will score.”   So as fast as it started “Pleat-o” came and went, and has been replaced by “Pink-o” Don’t ask me why.  “Pink-o” is what it is. 

So from now on, expect to hear the long, winding chants of “Pink-o, Pink-o, Pink-o” with that singular descending minor third over the o. Does any of this matter? 

Well, yes it does.  I personally never have and never will chant the chants that incorporate the letter that comes two after W.   I’m not Jewish – I am a Pastafarian (look it up on Google if you don’t know what that is), and the whole thing seems too daft for words, because it is about words.  But before anyone suggests I don’t know what living in a culture in which one is an outsider, and in which rocks are thrown at one on the way home from work – yes I know, been there, done that.  Not all my life but for a year.  I still remember.  I still feel the scars.  Words, I repeat, are not the issue.  Thoughts are the issue – the thoughts that led to the manager of Spain calling Henry a “black shit”.  The thoughts that led to Spaniards dressing up in monkey suits when Hamilton drove his car.   The thoughts that make sports officials in Spain think this is all ok.   The thoughts that mean Spain is still allowed to play internationals, and that F1 will continue in Spain after a little tap on the wrist.   That is the battleground.   That is what matters.  Thoughts.   Not words. The Tiny Totts supporters call themselves by the name Arsenal fans use.   Arsenal fans use the name the Tiny Totts call us.  But now none of us can say one word any more.   It has always been the case – restrictive regimes always do this type of thing.  “Z” is what I say to you.  “Z”.  My greatest sadness is that on the first friendly of this season, at Barnet, a little group of Arsenal fans started singing a song about Jews and gas chambers.  It is a song of the same repulsiveness and stupidity as the thing that Manchester United fans sing when they play Arsenal– utterly unnecessary, offensive not just to a few but to the vast majority.   The difference between Man U and Arsenal is that whereas Man U supporters in general just snigger, in response to the Barnet incident a significant number of Arsenal fans turned on the group singing in this way and shouted at them to stop.  When the singers didn’t, action was taken.  I don’t condone violence, but I was glad on this occasion that direct action was taken. 

Most people, and most clubs, would have thought that this was a positive move.  They might have thought, “we don’t actually like the use of the word that starts with the letter that is two before A if you make the alphabet a circular experience – but these guys were honest and straight enough to take on the fans of their own club and point out that this was going too far.   Let’s work with the positives.”  But no, they couldn’t let it be.   The word that begins with the letter that in capital form looks like someone standing up holding his arms left and right has been banned.   How crazy is that?   Banning the use of that word is not a Jewish thing, and the small number of Jewish people I know just shrug and let it pass.  They don’t like it, but there are bigger issues to worry about.  It goes.  Unfortunately a tiny miniscule minority don’t think this way. So “Pink-o” it is.  I hope everyone involved in this childish campaign is satisfied.  And don’t tell me I don’t know what it is like to have relatives destroyed by Nazis.  It’s irrelevant.  It’s also untrue.

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