Well I don’t know what to say – it seems a bit shallow to talk football when all this is going on, but operating on the assumption that “What do they know about international politics who only international politics know”, we’ll talk some football. My latest view from the bench comes on the back of a successful autumn for the website – poems in a Channel 4 book to go with a TV programme on creative writing for schools; requests from all over for material for National Poetry Day; requests for material for academic courses; feminist discourse on www.footballculture.net from our very own Rosemary Dun; Apple Day performances for Common Ground and as a reply to Rosemary and as a follow up to my last view from the bench, we have
“The Most Useless Lines Ever Written About Football
(Or Rudyard Kipling’s Views on how to be a New Man)”
Kipling said “If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
You’ll be a Man my son.”
I ask, in parenthesis,
Is it a paradox,
That he so much liked the Maxim Gun?
I’ve tried this stoical approach,
This “What do I care if we win or lose?” whimsy,
This “It’s only football so what does it really matter?”
Sort of flotsam-flimsy,
Whenever the latest temporary scores
Change into those ineluctable full time results,
Whenever Faith, Hope and Charity
Are nullified by teletextual reality,
I find it impossible to face the TV screen
With a self composed, icy intellectual,
Self possessed equanimity,
Focussed on the Infinite.
And I bet it’s the same for you,
I bet it is,
Because I don’t care what you are,
I don’t care whether you’re blokes, coves, youths, chaps,
Shavers, new men, old men, seamen,
Pleased to meet you boy next door men, –
Because can you honestly face a last minute loss so stoically?
Can you steadfastly ignore a last second win gained heroically?
Can you be the oh-so-cool laid-back disinterested fan,
The oh so perfectly reconstructed New Man?
Now, I’ve deconstructed myself,
And then re-constructed myself
And then deconstructed myself again and again,
I don’t know whether I’m Bill or whether I’m Ben,
From the literate re-birthed Flower Pot Men,
But on Saturday afternoons at 10 minutes to 5,
That’s when I really come alive,
Short changed by defeat or charged up by a victory,
Singing my intellect a temporary valedictory,
And then I’m not a New Man,
I’m not an old man,
I don’t know what I am,
Half boy, half man,
A footballing Peter Pan –
And I know that this must make some feminists choke,
But, honestly, it’s not easy being a bloke.