Saturday, 5 January 2008

Thinking Of Sting

Watching Arsenal, thinking of Sting and Trudie
By Russell Brand

Two thousand and eight then. We're now so far into the future that Kubrick's space vision looks like a turgid and unambitious "what the butler saw". I suffered a bit of football fatigue over the holidays as well as that vomiting craze that swept the nation like jacks or pogs - or saying "whaaasssuuuup" but with such commitment that the utterance becomes projectile.

I feel personally aggrieved by Liverpool's failure to stay with the pace, I really thought this might be their year; to kids growing up now The Reds will be like United were when I was a lad - a team for whom there is an incomprehensible reverence that have never delivered a title in their lifetime. I suppose they have at least triumphed in the watered-down, hyped-up Champions League but the Scousers demand domestic success from their side and now it increasingly seems that will not be under Benítez.

I did not go to Upton Park for West Ham's magnificent victory against Manchester United and was in fact so delirious with my Scrooge flu that I was oblivious to the event until baffled and congratulatory texts began to flood in. I was at the Emirates on New Year's Day, however, where The Hammers played like a side who felt like they'd done enough work for two matches in their previous encounter - which is a mentality I often employ sexually after the euphoria of the debut has reached its giddy climax, often secretly making eye contact with my cat as my co-participant ponders the whereabouts of the former shaman who now half-heartedly writhes, more for exercise than pleasure.

Arsenal move with the fluidity, grace and purpose of a couple who remain very much in love, the kind of yogic coitus that I like to think Sting and Trudie Styler have. Arsenal pass confidently from deep positions and are unencumbered by needless flair but make the functional aesthetically titillating - again how I imagine Sting and Trudie.

I don't want to give the impression that I give undue attention to the private lovemaking of Gordon Sumner and his missus, it's just a convenient analogy. I've never pondered it alone, biting my lower lip, eyes rolling skyward as I twitch out ribbons of guilty glee. I don't put on that "fields of barley" record and pretend to be him while canoodling with a porcelain sex doll - I don't think you can even get porcelain sex dolls - which is a prohibition of choice that will, surely, ultimately lead to the collapse of consumerism as the anaesthetic of the west.

I went to the Arsenal game with lifelong Gooner Matt Lucas. I don't often attend away games and even as we approached the magnificent arena the angst of unfamiliarity was all about me. The people drinking outside the pubs on the Blackstock Road were not of my fraternity; lacking there was the bonhomie of the frequently defeated, replaced instead by a peculiar sense of assurance; men louchely swilled back booze safe in the knowledge that they were not about to witness a bout of lazy humiliation.

It was a world away from the gallows good will of Green Street where a lunatic pervasion of detached joy prevails, revellers indifferently jig and swirl, regardless of the likelihood of 90 minutes of torture, like a grinning gin-bleached hag merrily giving suck to a stiff blue tot.

When Arsenal scored twice, so quickly that the whistle's echo could still be detected, Matt apologised as if Arsenal's dominance were bad manners and he'd failed in his duty as a host. I assured him that he couldn't be held responsible for his team's superiority and spent the rest of the game admiring the architecture and listening to the away support's relentlessly amusing chants with fellow Hammer and companion that day James Corden.

My favourite was "sit down if you love Tottenham" - there is little standing at the Emirates so by the song's clever logic the home fans were tacitly supporting their hated foes. Their riposte was quite good - "You need more foreigners" - but all were united in the minute's silence that preceded the match to mark the sad death of Motherwell's captain, Phil O'Donnell, a reminder that, whilst pithy, Shankly's maxim was ever an empty witticism.

Guardian column

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