Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Reflections

Good morning.

I’m back in Dublin after what was an amazing weekend. I got in yesterday afternoon, had  a shower, and went out for some food and a couple of drinks. It was a bit more quiet than London, which was just what the doctor ordered. Although I think the doctor would probably also order me to stick to a diet of water and fruit for a while. Perhaps with a side of multi-vitamins or something.

Obviously, on the journey home, I had time to think and reflect on how it all ended up. It being the season, the long march from August to May, and the final day itself. I was hopeful but also realistic. This is not my first rodeo either. I’ve been around the block a bit with this club and the game of football itself. I’ve seen some things down the years. We’ve had ups and downs and so much inbetween. You kinda think to yourself that you’ve seen it all and done it all.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that I found the denouement a bit more emotionally draining than I thought it would be. You try and harden your heart to the inevitable, but as I said in the build-up, if you can’t let yourself believe even a little bit, what is the point? That little bit of belief also opens the door for the pain to get through, a little stab here and there, and then a kind of energy-sapping deflation.

On the way home yesterday, I really felt like all I wanted to do was shut it all out. Just switch off for a while. Not a couple of hours in the evening, not just a day, but a few weeks away from Arsenal and football. My physical battery absolutely needs recharging but that’s entirely my own fault for carousing like a much younger man throughout the weekend. I fully accept that. I should know better!

My emotional battery though, that’s more difficult. It’s down to the last couple of percent. I’m on power-saving mode (please note: some functions may not operate as normal when this is selected). I wasn’t expecting this, and I’ll be 100% honest, this is genuinely the first time I’ve ever felt like this in all the years I’ve been doing Arseblog. We’ve endured some things in those 22 years that hurt like mad, but never got me in this way.

And yet here I am. At my desk, with a coffee, tapping away on the keyboard, and doing what I do every morning. Those couple of percent I have are because of a slight overnight recharge. Things are on the way back up. I met so many people this weekend, not just at the live event, but at the pub, and at the game itself, who took a moment to say hello and to let me know how much Arseblog means to them. In all kinds of different ways.

One man handed Clive an envelope which he must have brought with him on the off-chance that he might bump into me somewhere on Sunday. He asked if Clive would deliver it, and inside was a card whose contents I won’t reveal the specifics of but, when I read it again yesterday afternoon in my kitchen, made me cry a little. It was just so powerful and lovely. His words were on that card because of the words I produce every day, and if he’s reading this morning, I just want to say thank you in return. I’m so grateful you took the time to do that.

I am never not aware of how privileged I am to be able to do what I do, but things like that, and the conversations I had over the weekend – no matter how brief or fleeting they might be – are the juice for my emotional battery. And look, I realise all of this might sound a little self-pitying or something. It’s only football after all, this is the very essence of a first world problem (if it could even be called that), but these things are relative. This is what so much of my life revolves around, so while far worse things happen everywhere, every day, it’s acute in my experience. If, after 22 years of writing this blog every day, I can’t be fully honest with you wonderful people who read it every day, then something is wrong.

But it’s not wrong. It’s just what it is. And here I am. At my desk, with a coffee, tapping away on the keyboard, and doing what I do every morning. I’ll be back tomorrow with more, and the day after that, and onwards we’ll go.

Together, I hope.

There are written words, and spoken words as part of this too. So don’t worry, we are recording an Arsecast Extra for you this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re an Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

Podcast should be out around midday. Until then.

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