I stepped from solid ground and plunged into the vortex that is Youtube. As I swirled and plummeted farther and farther from reality my original intention of a harmless browse through a couple of football related videos became a distant and unreachable shore. Each link I clicked, each clip selected automatically for me by one of those dreaded algorithms about which we hear so much these days, sent me spiralling, Alice like, down one rabbit warren after another.
I eventually found myself watching a pleasant and largely unremarkable video of a wind turbine shot with the aid of one of those remote drone mounted cameras. The only thing of real interest was the middle aged chap seen taking his ease at the top of the two hundred foot high tower.
It transpired this was none other than Brother Joseph Byron who carries out routine maintenance on the turbine which provides power for the Rhode Island abbey and school of which he is a member. He also enjoys just sitting up there, catching a few rays while taking in the views, and marvelling at the work of his governor. It’s become a bit of a habit, he probably quips. None of this is anything more than background to the thrust of my argument, but I do believe you prefer a little context rather have me plunge headlong into some Arsenal related theory without any sort of helpful preamble.
It wasn’t the video or the Benedictine Brother’s vertiginous meditational perch which had me rubbing the chin and set the brow to furrowing. The frown which slowly creased my otherwise perfect complexion deepened as a result of reading the comments accompanying the short film.
Bear in mind the name, place of residence, job and length and preferred shade of brown of the brother’s tunic and scapular were all a matter of public record and referred to with helpful links by many commentators. This did nothing to prevent a horde of what I took to be mentally unsubstantial individuals falling over each other to be the first to shout FAKE! They protested in lengthy detail that any fool could deduce that the whole thing had been badly cobbled together using cgi. They listed with precise timings all the tell tale signs and howled that the entire thing was nothing more than a set up.
It wasn’t. It was obviously, rather dully and very plainly and easily verifiably real. Not the kind of thing anyone would bother faking in the first place and it had been pointed out by sober, unimpaired commentators that the man was genuine, the incident authentic and here, in fact, was the proof. Still they came. Fake! False! Set up! Surely no one can fall for this obvious trickery, here’s why, listen to me, I know what I’m talking about – and on and on.
I asked my son who being a ‘young person’ is therefore more at ease in this world than I. He shrugged, informing me that these people don’t care whether what they’re saying with such authority is rubbish and can be easily disproved. They are all over the internet, he said, and do not discriminate upon which topic they choose to vent. They either just want you to argue with them and get angry or they are simply shouting ‘Hey everybody, listen to me, don’t I sound clever?’.
Stop me when any of this begins to sound familiar.
I couldn’t help thinking of all the pointless, fruitless arguments had online by Arsenal fans. How we too make the mistake of assuming these are normal sentient beings who genuinely believe the things they say are honest, valid arguments or bear repeating. The reason we end up clutching our temples and imploring the world to tell us “Are these people for real?” is because no, not in any understandable sense, no they are not.
The wall of inhibition which prevents us standing up in a public space and spouting gibberish just to gain the attention of those therein gathered is stripped away on the internet and like a crack fuelled rhinoceros on a foreign holiday who has just sat on an exposed mains cable they run amok wanting nothing more than to be noticed or argued with.
When you realise this contagion is everywhere and unstoppable, not limited to football and certainly not to Arsenal, you realise that, far from fighting the good fight, taking up arms against these pitiable creatures is not only encouraging them it is fuelling their egos and filling them with satisfaction. My advice would be not to engage with them any more. You won’t convince with reason nor convert with persistence, they are not listening and do not care. You’re better off coming to Positively Arsenal, having a cup of tea and enjoying the company. Think of us, if you will, as the snug bar in a picturesque country pub and social media a kind of open air lunatic asylum.
So never mind that all of yesterday’s results were treated as opportunities to vilify the manager. Think of the tweets and Facebook posts as nothing more than the howls and yabbering of unfortunate souls trapped in the insanity and purgatorial nightmare of deranged, uninhibited and meaningless lunacy. You certainly won’t achieve anything by debating with them or quoting them on my timeline.
Today the real football returns. Today we have The Arsenal, not that mildly diverting sideshow put on by our rivals, and today we have the opportunity to take advantage of Man City’s dropped points. We travel back down to the south coast to see if we can do the double over Bournemouth. Despatched with some aplomb in the final fixture of 2015 the Cherries were fortunate to get away with a two nil defeat. A similar scoreline and performance today will suit us very well.
When we played Bournemouth at the Emirates we were reeling from a terrible result at St Mary’s and needed a solid display to help us bounce back. Many of us hoped the return to winning ways would be the start of a profitable run. Given the inconsistency of our rivals had it turned out that way we would, by now, be leading the field by some distance. Sadly we find ourselves back in a similar position today. An indifferent run of results has seen us slide from the top and suffer the unspeakable ignominy of watching second rate sides like Spurs go above us in the table. If ever we could do with a performance of style and confidence and a result to match, today is the day.
What of our opponents? Since playing us in December they’ve drawn two, lost only once and won four times. Two of those victories have been against lower league opposition in the FA Cup, their most recent league result a 2 -1 away win at the expense of Palace.
There is only one point between the sides in the current form table with Arsenal ninth and Bournemouth tenth, and if such statistics can provide any sort of guide to today’s match then a close game may well be in order. Obviously I hope not. I want to see an imperious Arsenal blaze back into match winning form but I’ve been offering up sacrifices and flagellating myself in a penitential appeasement of the football deities hoping for this mercurial performance for so long now that I’m getting a little tired of wishing for it.
Will it come today? Perhaps. Hope may be springing a little lower than in previous weeks but it still springs nonetheless. Alexis, our talismanic little battery powered bunny has had a couple of games to get himself back into his groove and the rest of the lads will know that now is the time they need to convert a few of the many chances they create.
We have been through, if not dark, then at least a gloomy few weeks, but the dawn may be upon us. As Brother Joseph can no doubt attest, there are many steps on the way to the top and the higher one ascends the harder they become. The view from the summit will surely be reward enough, we just have to have faith that we can climb farther and faster than those about and above us. Today would be a rather good day to begin that climb again.