Thursday, 17 February 2011

That Obscure Object of Desire..

...aka Liverpool Football Club. But first, a heavy day's writing during which I was telephoned by the travel agent to the effect that the normal photo booth photographs (costing £5) that I had sent, along with the long complex visa application form which demands extraordinarily obscure detail such as my citizen number in Hungary, a country I had left at the age of seven, along with a box marked physical identification marks, would not do for the purposes of a visa to India, and that they had to be 2 inches x 2 inches, proper Imperial Measure. For this purpose, the agent informed me, two photographs taken by any local photographer would do. There are no professional photographers' studios in the town of W. I don't even know of one in Norwich, not one where one can drop in and have the photographs ready the same day.

So we do it ourselves. C sets up some plain white paper in her studio and takes a couple of likely looking snaps. My head is not quite straight, and when we transfer the more correct looking photos from the card to Photoshop the image immediately degrades and prints, on the expensive photo printer, the wrong size with lines across it.

Ach..Let me cut this short. After three hours of fiddling eventually we get two photos printed. In the meantime the agent rings back to say a friend of his can enlarge the photo-booth pictures I had sent along with the form. It would cost only £10. I have already sent him a cheque for £90, to include the visa cost and his trouble in arranging this. I say we have done it. He says that might not do. I say we are sending it by First Class Post. He says, Fine. Best do it Next Day Delivery, says C. I rush down to the post office. Next day delivery, I say. OK, they say, making it special delivery. Another £5. I have now spent £100, and C half a day in arranging this rigmarole. I curse India, consider telling them I am not going after all, but desist. This £100 plus several hours in applying for the visa earlier is, well, just one of those things.


But back to Liverpool and that obscure object of desire. I can understand the love of Liverpool as a place. Michael Murphy has written beautifully about it. This time Channel 5 are showing the Sparta Prague v Liverpool match, which is preceded by some half hour of unmitigated and utterly unalleviated brown nosing. Kenny Dalglish, the saviour, has, it is stated some twenty times, already transformed the great club: they are back to their old selves of twenty-years ago; they are, once more, imperious, witty, irresistible and upwardly mobile. There is a spring in their step. It is like having new players. The fact that this is like throwing mud at the previous manager does not occur to them, nor the minor fact that since King Kenny's return their record is won four, drawn three and lost two, which is respectable and not much more. From the beginning of the game, in which Liverpool do nothing but pass the ball square in their own half, they are singing the praises of the new Liverpool: how this indicates that Liverpool 'are in control', how happy King Kenny looks (in fact he looks dour), and how Liverpool have a huge advantage in possession. By the middle of the second half it has dawned on them that it is a dull match against an average team, and that Liverpool - they dare not say so - are paying dull football with few ideas and exercise very little control except in their own half where Sparta don't challenge them.

By the end of the match it is clear that Liverpool have not in fact enjoyed the great majority of possession, possession being 50-50 according to the stats; that they failed to have a single shot on target whereas Sparta had four; and that Sparta had nine shots at goal to Liverpool's three. This is hardly clear proof of Liverpool's domination.

But Kennyolatry goes on undiminished. He has revitalised, motivated, created a new spirit... ad inf

I had never before experienced this intensity, this sheer unquestioned duration, of blind idolatry. It got so that every time the commentator or Graham 'Turnip' Taylor told us how wonderful something utterly ordinary was, I turned the sound off for three minutes. As a result I watched half the game in silence before the interval, then, as regrettable reality began to dawn on them, I cut out only about fifteen minutes.

To anyone but a Liverpool fan this obscure object of desire, this fetish, is a mystery and a form of madness. I wish the team no ill, except when they play us of course, and for the virtues of the city I am happy to take the word of dear friends who live or lived there. It was fine the times I visited, which was fairly frequently, and no complaints. I even take the Liverpudlians word for their own indomitable spirit. God knows, I even like Kenny Dalglish. But this... I am speechless (as, thanks to the mute button, were the commentators for one third of the game).

Now Arsenal v Barca. That was a game! Jack Wilshere was marvellous. If United v Marseilles is half as good I will be happy.


Anonymous said...

Tennessee Titans and Jeff Fisher: Tennesseans' neverending laudation of a man who achieved the ordinary. Thanks for helping me finally understand it all.

George S said...

I wish I understood it!

I suspect there is something sacred about Liverpool:

that Kenny Dalglish's bones shine in the dark;

that every second Friday the statue of Bill Shankly is seen to weep real tears;

that the deeds of the ordinary are transformed into excellence under the arch of the magnificent rainbow situated at the end of the M62, just as it crosses the A5058 under the name of Queen's Drive;

that the turf at Anfield Football Ground is enriched by topsoil from the Elysian Fields.

Something like that.

Gwil W said...

I imagine your photo in sepia and with official looking stamps.
When Roy Hodgson was mooted for the Austrian national team manager's job a few years ago he was dubbed König Roy by the press. In the event the King Roy fairy tale remained just that.
I don't know how he ended up at Liverpool. I can only say that at Blackburn Rovers he was abysmal and Kenny Dalglish was a real King Kenny. He steered to the Premiership title. His only mistake was going to Newcastle with Alan Shearer. If he'd have stayed at Blackburn he might have achieved great things as a manager. The fact was he'd laid out the basic groundwork; good youngsters coming up, a scouting network in Ireland, the Blackburn End fans behind him, a great training academy at Brockhall. And then Shearer thing. And then Hodgson and his ballet dancer assistant, an army of injured players. And then the inevitable - relegation. Disaster!

George S said...

Ach, Gwilym. Hope springs eternal.