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Arsenal Versus Nobody: What I Did On My Holidays – Part 1

Stonehenge On Sea

It never ceases to astonish me just how much I accomplish from the moment the curtain falls on the football season. It seems illogical. The game itself is played over ninety minutes and even allowing for added time and the fifteen minute break for the players to enjoy their oranges and a vigorous rub down the entire event can easily be wrapped up in less than two hours. On some weeks Arsenal play two games but even then that only takes up four out of an available one hundred and sixty eight hours.

So how come I have all this free time once the football season finishes? Given that one of my favourite distractions is to watch test cricket and the games there run to five whole days at a time one would imagine I’d have less not more time for exciting jaunts to darkest Dorset and luncheon engagements with number one daughter. And yet every summer it’s the same. The weekends especially seem to stretch out into a boundless, infinite, never ending tautology of adjectives and Wednesday evenings find me kicking about the old homestead like a recent parolee unsure of how to cope with life on the outside.

I wonder of this is what drives the brain dead obsession with non existent transfers? Can this sudden excess of leisure time create a vacuum which sucks otherwise sane people into pretending they know how much money James Milner will earn next year, and worse than that into thinking it matters? I don’t think so. In truth I believe the vile hacks of our corrupt and dissembling press corps feeling the lash of their editor’s whip and, compelled to squeeze the desiccated fruit of football for one last drop, invented the transfer circus as a means to keep football on the back pages.

In a halcyon past summer sports writers simply dropped football and wrote about other sports. When the season began again everyone felt refreshed and excited for the start of the new campaign and that is exactly how it ought still to be. Sadly the reptiles have won and with social media as the perfect tool to spread the madness, an army of us amateur writers with blogs to maintain and a football obsessed public unaware that less is more, they have created the perfect storm. If the journalists had decided the subject should be footballers’ hair styles or cars I’m certain a gullible nation would debate these asinine matters with precisely the same slavering vigour and passion as that with which they fantasise about transfer fees and wages.

I prefer to opt out. I don’t care about footballers of any club except Arsenal neither am I qualified to speculate on their suitability to relegate one of our own players to the bench and so I don’t.

So, what to write about on non match days? I thought I might bore you with a running commentary on what I do instead of football. The first people to benefit (or to suffer depending upon your point of view) are my family. I have had two days out this week firstly with my daughter, Daisy, and secondly with my mum. Daisy and I went to Bristol for nothing more than a mooch about and an opportunity to photograph the weird and wonderful folk of that fair city as they went about minding their own business. The place is famous not only for slavery and cigarettes but more recently for it’s graffiti artwork, a celebrity born largely out of it’s association with the artist known as Banksy.

I can’t tell you if the painted walls are more or less common place in Bristol than they are in any other British city nor whether the work is of an especially high standard. I was however particularly taken with a rather inventive piece of street art on the side of the old police station in Nelson Street. Instead of applying paint to the stonework the artist had made use of the pollution and general build up of grime which despoils so many of the nearby buildings. By carefully cleaning away the dirt to reveal the clean stone beneath he or she had produced a kind of artwork in negative. In this case a flock of birds flying up from the corner of a window. I intended to get a snap of this wall but photographs of walls, no matter how cunningly adorned are a little flat and not the most interesting and so I waited for some unsuspecting humanoids to wander into the frame and lend it some life. Hair The three people in this picture duly obliged and I was so taken with the young lady’s hair that I made it a feature of an otherwise drab shot by removing (or desaturating if you prefer) the colour from the rest of the scene. It’s a technique known as selective colouring and one much frowned upon by ‘serious’ photographers but it served my purposes well in this instance and so yar boo sucks to the lot of them.

On Wednesday my mum and I travelled to Dorset, stopping off on the way for a gawp at Montecute House. If you’ve never been it is a fabulous old pile built in the English Renaissance style at the end of the sixteenth century. I have an interest in ancient architecture which burgeoned when I worked as a steeplejack specialising in the restoration of ecclesiastical buildings and as such the outside of places like Montacute offers far more than the costumes and wallpaper of the interior. In this case however the inside holds many fascinations as well – not least the long gallery which runs the length of the second floor and within which the National Portrait Gallery has on display many fine Tudor and Jacobean paintings including a startling portrait of King James I by John de Critz. This is so lifelike that I’d been chatting to it about the likelihood of Higuaín coming to the Emirates for a good ten minutes before I realised my mistake.

Montacute House

In other news I’ve discovered a television series I’d not heard of before called Banshee. If you’ve not seen it I shan’t give anything away but what I can say is that along with many other shows currently in vogue it is built upon a bedrock of creative violence and soft porn. Now please don’t misunderstand me I can watch either with the same keen appreciation as the next viewer but unless they are no more than adornments on some otherwise interesting characterisation and plot development then a programme can become pretty stale, pretty quickly. The cartoonish quasi martial arts violence I can cope with (there is a particularly nasty razor blade / penis moment which will take no small amount of time for me to forget) but not when the protagonists spend up to ten minutes bouncing one another’s heads off immovable and unforgiving objects such as the corners of enamel sink units, kerb stones and anvils only to leap up and continue their pugilism with barely diminished enthusiasm. I’m all for suspending my disbelief but unless the drama is set in a fantasy world it needs to obey some basic laws of reality or I get turned off pretty quickly. Having said that the set up of the story has legs and I think I might try season two. Also the soft porn scenes are tastefully shot and the participants sufficiently energetic and enthusiastic to hold my attention until the next unlikely fight breaks out.

That’s about it for this week. I’ll be back for another non matchday round up next weekend. Until then enjoy the break from all things Arsenal because let’s face it everyone needs a holiday, even from that which they love.

 

 

 

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

36 comments on “Arsenal Versus Nobody: What I Did On My Holidays – Part 1

  1. Brilliant stew. Just like Arsene you got an artists soul.

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  2. Lovely Sreww,
    I visited Bristol a couple of years ago, it’s a vibrant City with a genuine boho atmosphere. I’d have to disagree about what constitutes the end of the season, I always feel that comes with the fat lady giving it a belt tonight at the end of the UCL final, whether we’re in it or not.

    As for the stupid and unwelcome international games going on now, the less said the better – we just have to hope no one gets crippled. I’ll be quite happy if Jack and Ox sit out tomorrow’s game. The organisers of which will claim a moral victory if combat 18 and co. Don’t turn up. How fecking pathetic.

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  3. You capture the post season ennui soundly, and it extends to the first day of August. Like DC however I shall be locked on the game from Berlin tonight, watching what is at the moment the best football team in the world try to beat the best footballer in the world.

    Banshee I watched the first time round and as you say it is hilarious. A clever idea to kick.it off .I enjoyed the weaving of the soft porn/violence with the Amish characters – very original idea.

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  4. Until I read DC’s comment I had no idea that the Champion’s League final hadn’t already been played. I have no interest in football if Arsenal or Bristol Rovers are not involved. As to the internationals these too come as a surprise and an irritation to me. The thought of our players being risked like this after a gruelling season chaps my arse cheeks something cruel. They should be on the beach with the latest Jackie Collins not risking injury in a silly, meaningless contest.

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  5. I am with you on the ‘friendly’ internationals just a week after the end of the season – pointless, greedy and in 9/10 games at least the football is cheap. I enjoy good international football but the notion of these friendly games is surely past its sell by date.

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  6. the problem with International football is two fold,
    one is that there are now far too many teams, since the 70’s or 80’s it seems that there is now twice as many teams in Europe, the break up of the USSR, and FIFA allowing the likes of Andorra and San Marino to have team, Catalan will likely be next, now means far more qualifying games, groups now have a couple of extra teams in them.

    with all these extra international games the BPL now has too many games, it needs to reduce by at least 2 teams, 4 would be ideal, but this will never happen. FA Cup replays also needs to go. The CL and EL having so many games too means that there is just far too much football for the top players.

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  7. I have never understood why in FA Cup games you don’t extra time at the end of the first game but instead go straight to the replay at 90 mins

    In the semi final and final there is immediate extra time but in the earlier rounds we go straight to the replay, then if required at the end of the second 90 on to extra time

    There seems no logic in the process

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  8. I suppose the logic is that the away team are give an equal chance at home advantage while the semis are on neutral ground so all was even to start with?
    Stew, marvelous.

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  9. Stew: wonderful stuff and am looking forward to the next instalment. Actually, what I am really looking forward to is a break from work which is being a bit mad at the moment and has been for some time now. I am worried AW will go ahead and sell or sign someone before I have had a proper chance to advise him.

    Now – a genuine question. Why would Juventus want to sell anyone, and why would one of their best players want to be sold? I would imagine living the life in Turin isn’t the worst option for a young man, especially if he isn’t going to have lumps kicked out of him every other week.

    After all, once you’ve proved you can do it on a balmy October evening in Naples….

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  10. *can’t stop smiling*…what a pleasurable read. Lovely.

    Now, how to get me a dvd of that Banshee…

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  11. I suspect Arsene is waiting for your Red Membership to be renewed before taking too hard a look at possible transfer targets FH – it would not do to leave himself short.

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  12. I’m so bored I may have to start annoying people on twitter. For a Change.
    What?
    WHAT???!!!

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  13. Nice one Steww. Especially like the architecture bit, lovely buildling. Did you take the photograph of it as well?
    Not too much into these new sex+violence shows – I prefer some wholesome escapism, like The Flash – or seriousness like Daredevil on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you have not seen it.

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  14. During summer when I need to feed my unhealthy Arsenal urge I usually screen the net for old Arsenal clips. A couple years ago I came across this nugget.

    http://player.arsenal.com/programme/4/fans-from-afar

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  15. Sorry it won’t link to the intended clip. For those with too much time check up Arsenal Player, Fans From Afar, A Macedonian Gooner on his first visit to the Emirates, 16th January 2013

    A healthy antidote to pedro.

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  16. Hi Sav, yes all the photos are mine taken on trips described in the blog

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  17. PG….. Hunter…..

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  18. Lucky devil you, Steww. i just escaped from my roof which needs some serious DIY, which has been postponed since last August. Checking in on PA (and twitter) will be the death of me if I don’t giddy-up on my projects before next season commences. But your blog eases my guilt somewhat. Quality.
    I am with d_c, until the champions league final, it is not officially post season. The poxy international friendlies can go to hell, unless there is an gooner involved. But then there is Copa America this year and the European Championships next summer. It is hard being a football junkie.

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  19. Lovely stuff Stew,was worried we wouldn’t get to read you for 8 weeks,he’s a persuasive bloke that George..I wondered why he’d borrowed my whip..

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  20. As I’m actually in Berlin at the moment *coughs with self importance;
    I’ll do my best to give George a piece for the blog, either Sunday evening or Monday morning.

    So far, the Culés are making all the pre match noise, but then again they never had Liam Brady play for them.
    The DC euros are going on an Old Lady win, possibly in extra time.
    The fine art of defence isn’t lost in the bianconeri DNA just yet.

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  21. Steww, you have surprised me!

    Sometime ago, you wrote asking for a suitable lay bye, where you could rest your weary frame, after some gig? Where no good for enough, could disturb your well-earned repose.

    I had this vision of you, forever seeking a suitable parking place for sleep and ablutions..

    Bristol? Sodom and Gomorrah.

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  22. You know, if the areas around where I live served up photo ops like that, I’d probably get out more. Unfortunately, I’m generally surrounded by highways and suburban strip mall splendor. God bless America.

    The one thing the end of the PL season brings me is sleeping late on Saturday. 9:30 am this morning. As work is killing me of late, this felt like a vacation. But then I’ll spend the day feeling guilty about all the chores that need doing that I don’t want to do, so I think I’ll distract myself from that with the CL final. Oh, and the women’s World Cup starts today, too. USA!

    I know we hate internationals, but I think we have a vested interest in the Wales game on Friday. Win that, and we’re going to get back an Aaron Ramsey who feels like Superman. That’s a good thing for Arsenal. And if one of the Wales lads punches Felaini, or takes out Hazard, well that’ll just be a bonus.

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  23. Barcelona are a bit annoying but not as much as under Enrique. He seems much nicer than Guardiola but maybe thats just me. Hoping for a Juve win as I think the Cup should be shared throughout Europe and Italy’s turn is up. Besides, despite the defensive prowess, I do like a lot of that team.

    The smart money is on Messi and Co tho…

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  24. Notoverthehill,

    I don’t sleep in a lay by any more. Got too old for all that!

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  25. Come on you underdogs

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  26. V even
    Good game

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  27. so have the experts of the AAA told us what Pogba and Vidal done tonight that proves they are the guys Arsenal NEED

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  28. Mike Sanz ‏@mikesanz19 31m31 minutes ago
    2011: Barca win the treble, sign Cesc, turn to shit

    2014: Sell Cesc, 2015 win the treble.

    Coincidence? I think not.

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  29. The find art of defence lasted about 4 minutes.

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  30. Thoughts on Pogba and Vidal’s auditions for the Arsenal?

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  31. Don’t know is the short answer!

    Vidal too old to be a big money addition to this midfield now, especially if Rambo keeps him on there bench? It’s unlikely.

    Paul Pogba they kid who told Donny Ferguson to go and…, I like him, for some reason. But if he ever ends up at the Arsenal as with Özil and Alexis it will be because he wants to make the move and has ignored other more lucrative offers. I don’t have access to the inner workings of Pogba’s mind. His thoughts, his dreams.

    So, I’ll be focusing on the cricket. And the other stuff.

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  32. I thought Pogba did well last night, I can’t see anywhere other than Madrid for him though. Vidal lost his head a bit early and was the target fir some Catalan cheating aimed at a red card. I assume the manager got hold of him at HT and he was very good in the second 45. Special mention for Marchisio – very tidy clever player

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  33. Pogba and Vidal both had very bad starts to the game but their stock improved as Juventus got a hold in the game. While Pogba is clearly not on the transfer market there are suggestions that Vidal may be. For the latter, I am not sure that at his age and likely stratospheric price we should make him make him our primary DM vs Le Coq. On this question, I would rather trust the clubs proprietary Data Analytics operations than the fantasises of our transfer junkies.

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  34. There is a new post up and running.

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