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Postcard From LA, That’s LA in Hertfordshire and Cheshire

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 I know some people might have said my dad was anthropocentric,
But he always said “If you’re going to get up, then get up early, son,
So you can breathe the air, before it’s been breathed on”,
And that’s weekend advice I’ve often followed,
Out with an orange splash sunrise,
To take the dog and buy the paper,
For an egg banjo Saturday study of the fixtures,
And a three tea cup forecast of the league tables,
With the whole day ahead of me clear
For a leisurely Radio 5 football feast,
Or Talk Radio and teletext;
But this Saturday started very early indeed,
And, unlucky for some,
A bird breathed before I did,
And defecated high from a neighbour’s tree,
And, yes, it landed right on me;
But I didn’t mind, for I was LA bound,
And what with time shifts and jet lags,
The 11 hour flight would see me leave at 12,
And arrive at 3, just in time for kick-off,
With the possible ability to change the scores,
To go back in time like Superman –
So I had this unusual feeling of complete nonchalance and equanimity,
I just knew we couldn’t lose today, time was on our side,
And this was especially so, because I was flying with a former referee,
And he told me tales of Highbury and the Den and White Hart Lane,
And of managers who made half time requests
That their forwards should be flagged offside,
Even when not interfering with play
For they were fed up with a bone idle strike force,
Who were too lazy to tackle back, but just took the money but didn’t run;
He also told me of his problems when reffing on what he called
“The hallowed turf” – Swindon, to you and me,
And how he had to guard against his boyhood bias,
And isn’t it nice to know that refs are human,
For just like you and me,
They want to run on the pitch
And smash the ball straight into the opposition net,
Unlike our aeroplane, which took a giant loop over Greenland,
And down through the snowy wastes of Canada,
Then over the source of the Missouri, and over other cowboy names,
Like Sheridan, Laramie, Yellowstone, The Rockies, The Great Plains,
And all we saw for 6 solid hours was snow and ice and mountain,
And in this country of 250 million people,
We saw no signs of habitation at all,
Until we reached Salt Lake City and then Los Angeles,
Where we descended over countless football pitches,
But just the one soccer match,
To reach the land of myth and meaning,
Palm trees, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard,
And the slow talkin’ drawlin’ taxi driver with the 40’s moustache,
Learning Spanish just to pick up the Latino girls,
Leering a lascivious grin,
Talking of his hero, Ronald Reagan,
“He don’t know nothin’ now, he’s 91, he don’t even know Nancy,
But he’s the man who cut Russia down to size,
Now all we gotta worry about now is these small countries like Iraq
And these Europeans’ foreign steel.”
“Is there still much of a steel industry around Pittsburgh?”
“I don’t know I saw it on the news.”
He was a big contrast to our next driver,
The polymathic universalist cinephile, Paul Richards,
Who took us past the Reagans’ neighbour, Leonard Di Caprio,
And showed us how it bordered on the Reagans,
(Original number 666 until Nancy renumbered it)
And although most of the Palladian kitsch and baroque mansions
Were hidden by rich verdant shadowed woodland,
It was reassuring to find that most of these trees of these arboreta
In Olympus and high Bel Air et al,
Were imported from the Antipodes,
And even the palms came from Iraq,
(So Paul from Kingston (Jamaica) told us,
Paul who took his GCSE’s in England,
And lived near Old Trafford,
Paul who suddenly loudly cried
“How could they sell Andy Cole, man?
It hurts to see him in a Blackburn shirt.
He was so good man, how could Fergie sell him?”
Just as we passed Johnny’s Coffee Shop,
Open only for movie shooting as in Pulp Fiction et al)
And on we went through the bizarre ostentation and conspicuous consumption,
A sort of Designer Footballers’ Wives with a dash of unconscious surrealism,
Where fans for whatever reason gawp at the back doors
And tree clad entrances of the homes of the stars,
Past shops with signs, “Movie stars’ maps sold here”,
The cartography of the confusion of an industry
Where stars simultaneously over expose themselves and then hide away
In their rococo fastnesses and baroque prisons,
Like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard –
Or footballers in Hertfordshire or Cheshire I suppose.

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Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/postcard-from-la-thats-la-in-hertfordshire-and-cheshire/