Sunday, November 27, 2022

Arsenal Gentleman’s Weekly Review + Exclusive Kenneth Erskine interview

I’m afraid I have been away. I say ‘I’m afraid’, because I am expressing sympathy for those of a Gooneristic tendency who have been trapped in Albion for these last somewhat sticky two weeks. Although the heat just off the west of Africa was oppressive, one did not suffer the fiery breath of Satan that is the inevitable gloating of Liverpool fans.

We are getting somewhat ahead of ourselves. There was another match which occurred on my travels, agin Palace of Crystal. Which ended in a much more pleasing way than the following pair. Those times now seem very much like a bygone age, a time when The Arsenal won games of football, when Mr. Orwell was rightly feted as both assassin and ghost, a carefree era when beating funny little Pulis and his ridiculous headgear was such a heart-thumping joy. Young Master Oxlade-Chamberlain and his resplendent bugger-grips pumped two exquisite goals past the second best team from south London. Marshmallow grew from the trees and treacle flowed from the taps.

I was able to view the game from a hostelry in a Spanish territory known as Fuerteventura. This hostelry was equipped with a magic lantern strung high in one corner, beaming the match as it happened by no small amount of trickery. My companions for the game seemed to be largely drawn from the mill towns of the north, strange, wizened folk, turned prune-like in the heat, clad in sportswear despite the last sport they undertook was undoubtedly poaching some of my best grouse last season. They had the look of the career criminal about them. Still, when overseas, any port in a storm must do when it comes to Woolwich matches, and one can’t really complain, for it is this sort of personage who keeps one’s scullery clean, shirts and collars laundered and so on.

One tends to attract attention in such quarters, not only because I am an Englishman who can speak English, rather than the strange guttural monosyllabic dialects of the north, but because a crisp linen three piece suit, tie, pocket square and of course pith helmet are de rigueur. I found myself a quiet corner and enjoyed the match.

Amidst the normal speculation about whether someone called ‘Miley Cyrus’ pleases a gentleman in a certain way, or whether it was “too early” for a round of “Jaegers”, or quite what had happened to “Stacey” as the last they heard “she had met some bloke in Churchill’s who said he had a big bag of beans”, came a reasonably amusing stream of ignorance about the match in question. I give you the choice highlights from our holiday-making northern friends:

“Didn’t that one with the funny hair used to play for Arsenal?” (On Mr. Chamakh)

“He looks like my Uncle Terry. He’s inside now, police found summat horrible on his laptop.” (On Mr. Pulis)

“That bloke’s a dickhead.” (Mr. Windsor)

“Why aren’t the ones in blue trying to score a goal?”

To which the answers are of course:

Not really, I’m sure he does, no he’s not, because they are managed by a bloke who looks like your perverted Uncle Terry and hates football.

Still, two nil it was, and we went into the next game six days later with confidence high. A confidence which did appear slightly misplaced when we were taken apart like drunken medical student taking apart a cadaver. Chop, chop, slice, slosh, rip, tear, slash, swig of rum, slash, cut, chop, rip.

So I want to know who was precisely to blame for The Unfortunate Event? Could be me of course. Being in sunny climes I had forgone my usual foot attire of woollen striped red and white socks (‘the luckies’) and I therefore could have placed the bad juju on Arsenal. Or was it you? Was there a ritual to which you normally adhere that was omitted? Some pair of undercrackers normally worn but left at home? A certain route to the stadium which normally guarantees victory? A particular repast usually taken but for some reason not so last week? Someone must be to blame, and I am looking at you.

I was of course somewhat insulated from the savage dissection we suffered by the foolproof method of consuming a vast quantity of psychedelic drugs – namely peyote and LSD – during the match. This is an emergency measure, and the last time one had to reach for the special pocket was the 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford.

Which brings us to the visit of Manchester United. A team once again finding their position bumping around in 6th, 7th, 8th, that sort of area, which is of course wonderful to see. And yet, such was the massive psychological blow of losing by a four goal margin in Liverpool, we were somewhat “pulling back on the reins” throughout and were unable to break down the Moyes bus. During the match I jotted down a list of all the things David Moyes has in common with Sir Alex Ferguson, should any United fans be interested. Here it is:

1. Is from Scotland
2. Smell of wee.

That’s it.

One last word on the vile spectacle of Mr. Mourinho pleading poverty this week. Has time really become so compressed that a club that for ten years now has been on a life support machine with a sticker on the side saying “ROMAN’S £1.5bn LIFE SUPPORT MACHINE” are trying to be viewed as OLD SCHOOL? This is total insanity.

It is Chelsea’s distortion of the market that begat Manchester City. Chelsea were going bust when Roman arrived and begat them the monies in the hope of [REDACTED] becoming a global celebrity (Arseblog old lad, delete as appropriate, I’m not sure how litigious the fat-faced pignut is). Roman begat Manchester City. Which is in the business of laundering the reputation of a highly suspicious entire country. So you can take your little horse, and you can bugger off. And when you get there, you can bugger off a bit more, and leave to football to the proper clubs, you ghastly mountebanks.

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Kenneth Erskine - ArsenalKenneth Erskine Interview

I was delighted upon my arrival back in Britain to be invited to a central London hotel for an exclusive interview with our new signing, Kenneth Erskine. I say ‘hotel’; a more apt description would be ‘King’s Cross Flophouse’. My chauffeur rings the bell for me and gestures that someone is coming. I exit the Humber and make my way up the steps to reception. Nine or so minutes later and I am there. Behind the glass is the unmistakeable figure of Arsenal’s new signing, Ken Erskine, known in less enlightened times as ‘The Inverness Invalid’.

ERSKINE
You’ll have had your tea?

GENT
Well, I…

ERSKINE
Good. The milk’s on the turn anyway and I’m not leaving the hotel in this weather. Come, sit in the lounge. You might want to put some paper down. Damn bugs (scratches himself).

[I sit. It becomes clear that ‘the lounge’ is the shared area of a hostel for the homeless.]

GENT
Mr. Erskine. Thank you for your time. My first question is a simple one: Why did Mr. Windsor sign you during the transfer window, and what can you bring to the Woolwich Arsenal squad?

[Erskine rolls up a matchstick sized cigaroon, lights it, and inhales deeply. He coughs a rattling, primeval cough and spits onto the carpet. I try not to flinch.]

ERSKINE
I haven’t got a f*****g clue. I’m 53, I’ve got a wooden leg, pleurisy, gout, one good ear and piles the size of billiard balls. I can’t run from here to that door.

GENT
You have a wooden leg? When you were playing for Spartak Moscow last month you didn’t have a wooden leg.

ERSKINE
Went to see the Arsenal Medical Team for my medical at the end of January and they took it off. Said there was no other option.

GENT
But you went in for a back complaint?

ERSKINE
Aye. I’ve now also got dermatitis, tennis elbow, something I’d rather not mention, and in growing toenails on my remaining foot. All courtesy of the Arsenal Medical Team. You should see it in there. You go down a dark, dank stone staircase, three flights. Walls dripping. Every been in a dungeon? It’s like a dungeon. You get in and they say, “No one has a name down here son. You’re a number.” Then you walk past these cages and you see them. Number 14, he’s in there. Had his knee cartilage replaced with some kettle flex and a five inch nail. Number 16, his thigh wrapped in pieces of haddock under canvas “to draw out the fever.” Number 24, he’s got a long white beard and where his knees used to be there are now door hinges. Number 5, who is obviously some kind of angry android, is waiting for a part to be sent from China. Horrible scenes.

GENT
Did they say what was wrong with your back?

ERSKINE
Aye. It’s the mint. I’m sponsored by Trebor, and I was that hard up recently they paid for one of my vertebrae to be replaced with an Extra Strong Mint. So it’s pretty fragile. They said they would ‘bung some Polyfilla in there and see what happens’.

GENT
We wish you a speedy recovery.

ERSKINE
Aye, thanks. But if you really wanted to help you could run oot and get me a nice single malt.

GENT
If you don’t mind, I think you’re probably more of a blended type.

ERKSINE
You are cheeky auld c**t.

GENT
Why thank you. So tell us a little about yourself, your playing style and so on.

ERKSINE
Well in my twenties and even early thirties I was pretty good for a burst of pace but now I’ve hit fifty I pretty much try and conserve my energy. My left leg is pretty useful, which is lucky, as the medical team have taken off the right one. I think I’m going to have to rework my run up for free kicks now I’ll be on crutches for games though. I just need to dry out before I get back into training.

GENT
Can you play as a striker? We really need a striker and the manager’s sent three of them out on loan.

ERSKINE
No.

GENT
Couldn’t you try? Mr. Chamakh was about as useful as you and he called himself a striker for a couple of seasons. Couldn’t you just stand on the penalty spot and we could bung the crosses in, Newton Heath style?

ERSKINE
No.

GENT
Talk us through your playing career.

ERSKINE
Well I was born in Inverness to Picts. I am 100% Pict. Pictish. Went to a Pictish Primary. Got picked up by Hamilton Academicals, but I wasn’t academical enough so moved to Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare, then to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, then was spotted by a scout for Spartak Moscow. And then someone picked up the phone a couple of weeks ago and said “Hey! Invalid! It’s the Arsenal manager on the phone. He’s drunk and he wants to sign you.” So I put on my trousers that smelled the least of urine and jumped on a flight. And here I am! I’m very excited about playing for Arsenal. Hopefully I’ll get to play for Arsenal at some point. I don’t think I’ll get to play for Arsenal. You know. Taps his wooden leg.

GENT
The best of luck to you old boy. Let me treat you to a half bottle of Poundstretcher Scotch.

ERKSINE
Now I know why they call you the gent.

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