Saturday, 22 November 2008

I'll put some more Budapest notes and pictures up in the next couple of days. It snowed today, by the way, and the staff in Muvesz allowed me half an hour before turning off the unintrusive jazz in favour of some undoubtedly very chic off-the-shelf trip hop. Music, too: I'm writing a little piece about the Velvet Underground's White Light/ White Heat, for no reason other than I want to.

But right now I'm sitting on my sofa, soaking my brown rice and lentils, and indulging in my favoured Saturday evening pursuit of checking the football results. My, oh my, what is going on in the Premiership? In list form, then, the things which have made this the best Premiership season since the glorious, surreal escapades of 95/96.

1 - Liverpool playing with some mettle. I doubt they'll win it (and actually hope they won't, preferably failing in a manner that involves last-day capitulation allowing United to overtake them and causing Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson to turn into human teardrops in the MOTD studio), but their revitalisation gives me a touch of Match of the Eighties style nostalgia.

2 - Hull City, a side who have sashayed straight out of Roy of the Rovers. Dean Windass - hard man local hero with the proverbial pugilist's face. Geovanni - maverick Brazilian who scores banana free kicks almost routinely. Ian Ashbee - lower league grafter who has crept to the top virtually unnoticed. Marlon King - flashy bad-boy striker who has spent time at Her Majesty's Pleasure and - you couldn't make it up - gets in a brawl with local hero Windass. In a casino. In Scarbrough. The art-life continuum is right out of joint in the East Riding these days (delete the final two words as appropriate.)

3 - Stoke's employment of the similarly if-he-didn't-exist-we'd-have-to-invent-him Rory Delap, a professional footballer whose playing style is largely grounded in his ability to use his hands. Sorry, I know Delap-mania is a bit Football Focus, but he's a one-man Eagle strip.

4 - Arsenal. They're imploding, but doing so whilst employing a cast of improbably talented kids who no-one has ever heard of. William Gallas displays the leadership capabilities of Tom Berenger's character in Platoon and Wenger presides over the whole affair like a miffed but ultimately powerless head teacher. The 'whole side consisting of unknown foreign teenagers' ploy has aesthetic merit, for sure, but it seems to me to be a strategy that works best - and even then, only in a limited way - in the psychedelic utopia of Championship Manager.

5 - Manchester United's decision to not only play with fourteen forwards, but to sign a pair of identical twin full-backs, thus employing a tactic not seen since Cobra Command's dastardly fielding of Tomax and Xamot in Action Force. Incidentally, does anyone have any idea why that article on Cobra Command is hosted on the website of some nightmarishly useless Goth metal band?

6 - Newcastle. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

7 - Stephen Ireland's highly unlikely maturation into the new, arguable improved, Steven Gerrard.

8 - Gabriel Agbonlahor apparenly growing half a foot, thus putting himself forward as a candidate to become England's best all-round centre forward since Alan Shearer. Feel free to laugh at me if this doesn't occur.

Anyway, that's enough frivolous football-chat for now. Off to see some French garage rock bands on a boat tomorrow night: intriguing.

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