Saturday, 21 April 2007

Brutal Laptop Reality Destroys My Island Fantasy

West Ham's impending relegation is only slightly more bearable from the other side of the world
By Russell Brand

Oh I get it, wait until I'm safely tucked up in my "Prison Paradise" Hawaii, and then have English football transform into the most thrilling, rewarding game on earth. Man United v Roma? 7-1? Oh come on, it's absurd. I'm on an island where I can't even get my thirsty, deprived little fists on English newspapers and enjoy the analysis, let alone actually watch matches, oh what I wouldn't give to have grimy, inky fingers from holding the prestigious pages you now grip - or the dear old Sun, I'd be happy with the Telegraph and Star for God's sake.

Instead of which, I am trapped amidst this tedious beauty reading about West Ham beating Arsenal at the Emirates on a laptop screen - the horror, the indignity, it's so un-English. Of course whilst abroad, I become so aware of my national identity as almost to become a poisonous racist or at least social shipwreck. I'm considering wearing a knotted hanky on my head and eating bangers and mash on the beach whilst rolling my eyes at the turtles and surfers.

If surfing had not been invented and I found myself in the ocean with a surfboard, which would exist without function in the parallel universe of my devising, I would after perhaps an hour's endeavour deem surfing to be utterly impossible and implausible. The bonkers fact that everyone here can do it seems to me a denial of the laws of physics - I might just as well design a sport that involves the practitioners wearing pig's-trotter goggles and playing billiards with their shins.

Perhaps this loopy event might cause me less arse-ache than following the team I'm chained to by heredity and geography. West Ham's brief, triumphant run collapsed after they'd done enough to inspire some dumb optimism in me, making a mockery of the practice that I'm sure a lot of belligerent football supporters undertake - particularly if they suddenly have time on their hands, stranded yards from the location where Lost is filmed - I've been studying the fixtures of my own team, Wigan, Charlton and Sheff United and calculating a points prognosis based on my results predictions.

Unfortunately this system is impeded by the idiotic bias of the practitioner. Using this device I swiftly deduced that Sheffield United and Wigan would be joining Watford for a Championship jaunt next season because I am incapable of excluding aspiration from the process. According to my system the Hammers will triumph at Bramall Lane and then hold Chelsea to a draw at Upton Park, securing four points from a possible six. Fine, except the relentless march of time and truth has brutally presented me with an unpalatable brace of thrashings from those encounters.

When poring over the fixtures I convince myself that I'm being objective and even now, after the fallibility of the system has been made painfully evident, I still find myself looking at forthcoming games and thinking "ooh, I think Everton at home should be three points" and "oh, I see Charlton and Sheffield United are playing each other - they'll hopefully field teams ridden with convicted sex offenders and face an automatic 20-point deduction leaving West Ham in the clear, wahoo!"

I suppose the inevitable relegation of West Ham will seem more bearable from the other side of Earth, just sad text messages from friends and internet-derived news. Not for me the doleful trudge down Green Street and agonising colour photos adorning glib red tops. I'll be witnessing the fall from a hammock drenched in delicious cliches.

I heard today that coconuts kill more people than crocodiles (than are killed by crocodiles, not 20 people a year and 17 crocodiles in the coconut league of death. I don't know the stats for crocodile deaths - I don't have that much free time). I shall have to keep my wits about me, I don't need the word "coconut" cropping up in my obituary . . . "Ballbag comedian killed by falling coconut whilst lamenting West Ham's relegation". Tragically I wouldn't be able to read my own obituary because you can't get the papers here. And I'd be dead.

Guardian column

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