C3 (Day 42): Lent

Who was it that had

my copy of The Football

Grounds of Great Britain?

~

n.b. I cannot imagine I ever let anyone borrow that from me, but no sign of my copy of the classic text by Simon Inglis and I would never have knowingly given it away. The Football Grounds of Europe is still with me, so maybe this is telling me something about my future?

~

CLP 17/02/2021

On Playing (12)

Being substitute

is not a problem when you

have the chance to shine

~

n.b. As a boy being picked for the school team, even as a substitute, was to be part of something exciting. All I have ever wanted was to have an opportunity to have a go.

That is what we all want in life…to take part.

n.n.b. Quick explanation: 12 was the number of the player who could be used to replace an injured team-mate, or might be used to replace another player to change the flow of a match. This was in the days when football teams were numbered 1 to 11 for those players who started a game. There was none of this squad number / choose your favourite number business when I was a lad.

n.n.n.b. The Number 12 is now often allocated to a football club’s supporters, implying that after the eleven players on the pitch, the supporters are the most important people in the game. I will spare you the philosophical discussions that could be had around that, but when you hear a crowd gee a team up to perform better, or get on their backs and hinder their progress, you will appreciate that the supporters have an influence.

A report yesterday from Austria suggests that players without a paying, baying crowd present are much calmer and less confrontational with opponents and the referee.

From time to time Portsmouth have had players who did not need a crowd to gee them up. As the saying goes, they could start a fight in a phone box – with themselves. No names…but Pompey fans could tell you who I have in mind.

n.n.n.n.b. The picture is of St Andrew’s. The home of Birmingham City, who rent there ground to Coventry City, who were hosting a visit by Portsmouth that evening. Yes, we lost 1-0.

~

CLP 25/01/2021

On Playing ii

Saturday at three

is when the fun really starts

Oh, yes! And the pain

~

n.b. A lifetime of training my body to endure watching Pompey all over England means my adrenalin and endorphins peak around 3pm on winter Saturday afternoons…what happens from there is a game.

I used to play a bit too, not at that level though.

Realising the ambiguity of the last sentence, I clarify, that I played far below the Pompey level, (although my grandma could have scored some goals that Pompey players sometimes fail to score, obviously).

~

CLP 16/01/2021

Brexit Bonus

Small towns and villages along the southern coast of England and Wales from Margate to Tenby welcome the return of a once much loved and long missed industry thanks to Brexit.

At Felpham the landlord of The Badger Inn is delighted, “It’s been a while hasn’t it? But I am rubbing my hands at the prospects and opportunities for local businesses to thrive as this traditional trade picks up again!”

Meanwhile, just to the west of the village, I spoke to a source who wished to remain anonymous. We met on a beachside bench by the Butlin’s South Coast World that dominates the town of Bognor Regis, infamous for seeing off one of the British Empire’s last monarchs.

“It’s been hard work for generations, obviously tightening the laws around recreational drug use gave us hope, but my grandfather said to me when he handed over his boat, ‘You’ll be vilified lad, but remember our family has been in this line of work for over 300 years and you’ll promise me that you won’t be the one who lets it go.’ I’ll always remember his last words, ‘Vote Tory, they’ve always been good news for spivs and chancers, they’ll look after their own.’ He was not wrong, was he?”

As he got into his silver Mercedes AMG GT C and prepared to visit Mandy’s boatyard on the river Hamble to put a cash deposit down on a new boat, my source added, “Brexit means we’ll be back where we belong as well respected members of the local business community. I’m through with drugs. It’ll be good to renew our trading links with our French cousins. It’s going to be busy, busy, busy here.”

Around the coast, where the sea extends into the many creeks of Chichester Harbour I spoke to a local estate agent, again anonymously. “I’m not sure how it will affect the local housing market. Maybe the current owners of the bigger houses around Bosham might get a bit twitchy about the surge in business, but in the long run a wealthier local population, reduction in unemployment and renewed interest in small, fast sea-going craft will increase demand for properties with easy and discrete access to the sea. Everyone’s going to be on board with it. Bring it on, I say.”

Another pretty seaside village, proud of being in Hampshire rather than Sussex, is Emsworth. There I spoke to Tony, a long time resident of the village. “Since the Americans bought Pompey from us and took the floodlight pylons down, I have been feeling like the world is going down the pan, but a return of the local, traditional entrepreneurial spirit has given me a boost. 2020 has been rubbish, hasn’t it? Another play-off defeat and that bug thingy, so if things are looking up for small businesses I am delighted.”

Val, another long-time resident, but whose Shropshire accent of childhood could still be detected added, “I can’t wait for some decent cheap Bordeaux to be delivered to my doorstep. These guys were on it before Amazon and Ocado, generations ago, can’t wait for the trade to pick up again. I understand car parts and Swiss pens and watches will be coming through Emsworth. Don’t say I said so, but it will be super to see the harbour here and at Langstone being used again commercially, even if it’ll be at strange hours of day and night, We’ll just have to adjust. I suppose they’ll be using those drone machines, not just boats, but we have to keep up with technology too, I suppose.”

Back at The Badger the landlady chipped in, “It’ll be great for us, the Revenue used to stay here regularly in the old days. Smuggling’s alright. We’ll support any local firm trying to give it a go. Pubs as places to buy and sell stuff, you know, have become quite rare. The hospitality industry could so do with a boost. Anything to bring in the punters.”

When asked to comment the Chancellor of The Exchequer’s press secretary said, “Cripes! Really? I’ll get back to you on this.” Nothing official had been received by the time we went to press.

~

n.b. Names of pubs and interviewees have been changed.

CLP

Illicit Trade Correspondent

Voyages Writing dot Com

17/12/2020