They say that the human spirit is indomitable. Countless examples of people defeating the odds by dint of unquenchable courage are regularly quoted, ranging from brave men and women standing up to the evils of the Holocaust to those sentenced to interviewing David O’Leary for fully forty-five seconds without punching him in the face. Who among us has not shed a tear at yet another stirring tale at the tail end of the News at Ten detailing the man who risked his life to save the last colony of lesser-spotted Patagonian snoods from evil developers who wanted to build a shopping mall on their nest? Actually that’s probably an example of the rank stupidity of the human spirit, but They mean it as an example of indomitability, and since They said it, it must be true for They are very wise indeed.
On the other hand, no less an luminary than Popeye the Sailor Man said that “I can stands so much, and I can stands no more”, implying that there’s only so much crap that a person can take before they are driven to the extremes of eating spinach from a can. Popeye must be equally as wise as Them, so who to believe?
The answer is that they are both right – as usual. The human spirit is indeed indomitable. Despite the warning sign on the road ahead and lots of people saying we’d be better off dead, we keep on rockin’ in the free world (© Neil Young). The summer months were a wee bit traumatic in the deiseach household. Having finally gotten into a position where I could get a house of my own, a little patch of Liverpool turf that I could call my own, every step forward brought one more kick in the teeth. Every time I thought that this was the last time, that I wouldn’t be able to take one more blow before exploding with the shrapnel showering everyone nearby -some people close by could have done with some deiseach shrapnel ripping through their vindictive heads. But we found the strength to carry on from somewhere, and here I am now, typing this in my cosy (read: small) cottage in L15. The feeling of triumph is indescribable, and there are few things in life that would make it better.
(It is one of my dark little secrets that I’m actually quite liberal at heart. While my personal habits are more square than Mary Whitehouse – church-going, home before dark, don’t smoke, don’t drink much, wash behind my ears – I don’t care much if other people get up to all of the above. Anyone who has ever heard me gab on at length about the need for higher taxes to pay for better public services or the unfair maligning of asylum seekers will know this. However, now that I am a member of the home owning classes, expect to see my political ideology swing violently to the right. It won’t be long before Tony Martin, who up until now was a deranged social misfit who shot a teenager in the back while the poor lad was crawling away from his loaded shotgun, will undergo a transformation which will see him become a modern day hero defending his castle in the absence of effective policing, a state of affairs wrought by the corrupting of our laws by bleeding heart, pinko Guardianistas.)
But there are certain things in life that could be better, the Reds being the chief amongst them. The current state of affairs at Anfield has demonstrated why both They and Popeye are right. Yes, we CAN take all the crap that the world can throw at us, yet that doesn’t mean that we SHOULD have to take it. I’ve often defended the Liverpool hierarchy on the basis that we should try supporting a lesser team before we pronounced on how crap the Reds were. Standing in the Kop in the immediate aftermath of the draw with Spurs – Spurs! – I got the chilling sense that I was going to get a chance to experience firsthand rather than hypothetically. Losing to Chelsea wasn’t too bad. The Lahndahners have been the footballing equivalent of the Bearded Lady and Lobster Boy, a freak show that caused everyone to stop and stare. We weren’t to know that a half-decent team was going to be moulded from Roman Abramovich’s mafioso millions (in case anyone thinks that’s unfair comment, no one has made an honest buck in Russia since before Peter the Great) so it didn’t look too bad at the time. Then I was treated to the other half returning to the new pad after the Villa game, shocked and dazed by the appalling rail system and the appalling performance by the Reds. When she didn’t enjoy the game, something is wrong. Add in the evidence of mine own eyes against Spurs, when we could have been there until Derek Hatton cracked a decent joke and still not have scored a goal, and it doesn’t make a pretty picture. The idea that we may plummet down the footballing pecking order the way Preston, Huddersfield and Blackpool did before us suddenly didn’t seem so preposterous.
It’s incredibly shallow to determine the medium-term future of any football club on one match, especially a league match four games into the season. But everything about Liverpool caning the Blueslime at Woodison was perfect. They were utterly convinced that Gollum’s understudy was going to rattle in a hat-trick and end their derby drought that stretches back to the days when he was just a twinkle in his Precious’ eye. Instead, to the eternal surprise of everyone – not least a visibly relieved Gerard Houllier – Liverpool went out and played superbly. Michael Owen showed the little troll how it was done and Harry Kewell broke his duck with an expertly taken goal that the Bluescum had the brazen-yet-hilarious cheek to call a tap-in. The squeals and guffaws of delight from delirious Reds in George Henry Lee’s as each goal piled up on top of its predecessor certainly made the anguish of the first three games of the season recede into the background, as well as making a day of shopping for spatulas and curtain hooks a lot more bearable.
So beating the Blues made a lot of things better, but not entirely. The first few weeks of the season have finally made me ponder how much crap I should have to take from the current Liverpool. No amount of flannel from Chris Bascombe can disguise that we don’t look like title winners and if we’re not going to win the title this year then what is the point? Liverpool had better get very good very fast or we may have to indulge in a spot of lese majeste.