We’re Gonna Make This – A Glue Day

In my well-documented meanderings around York, I purchased a “press out and glue” cardboard model of a Viking Ship for the son and heir, marketed by no less an august institution than the British Museum. Needless to say I misjudged the product and once opened, it was obvious that the complexity was too much for a six year-old.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it is many years since I last wrestled with an Airfix kit. Hours of frustrating endeavour would produce a glue-encrusted mess of plastic and broken transfers. Why did they always split and wrinkle when you removed the paper from the saucer of warm water and gently attempted to slide them onto the fuselage or hull?

Imagine our brave boys having to take to the air in my poorly assembled Spitfire, to say nothing of the paintjob.

You may have built a life size representation of the Titanic from balsa wood or St Paul’s Cathedral in cocktail sticks; I had neither the skills, nor patience for model making.

But in the spirit of fatherhood I could not leave the boy disappointed and with not a little relish, set about the construction of this noble vessel on the Sunday after we had beaten Blackburn.

I didn’t do too badly but progress was slow and time was short and so the majestic craft was laid aside until another opportunity for peaceful assemblage presented itself.

By three o’clock on Sunday last, the Bayou household had settled to late afternoon quietude and so to calm the nerves before the game I settled once again to completing the, by now eagerly anticipated, vessel.

Very apt indeed I hear you say, given that we were playing a team from one of Britain’s great maritime cities and an area once settled by the Vikings.

It was very soothing.

I found myself floating in a bubble of calm as I bent to the task of scoring (unlike my team), glueing and fixing the mast, the sail, the tiller, sundry crew members and lots of other fiddly bits of stuff. With the headphones on, listening to the build up, I was transported back in time to the shores of the fjords circa 950 AD. Standing on the prow as we return from scaring the bejaysus out of some hapless monks on Holy Island, I wave to my beloved Norse maiden, while my tousle haired children play on the foreshore. Or maybe I embrace my ageing parents one last time before I set sail for Greenland and onto the New World, to Canada. It is many years before I see the fjords again, returning only when the settlement fails after being rejected for yet another NHL expansion franchise, which always seem to go to the southern sunbelt. Disillusioned with hockey, I turn to football and wait out the years in anticipation of Egil Olsen and his wellies, propelling Norway to a place in football’s elite.

Ah the beauty of the fjords, by God (or Odin) I very soon wished wish I’d stayed there.

Having not yet sorted out Sopcats, Topcats, P2P or whatever it’s called, I woke from my reverie to find myself without a feed to watch the game. I was stuck with 5 Live. Colin Campbell, Alan Green and Lawro; “Mickey” lovers to a man. Only Mike Ingham (Chief Football Correspondent) on hand to perhaps give a modicum of perspective.

And as with the Vikings, the rest is history.

A Night to Remember Movie Poster Storm tossed on the heavy seas of defeat, I was torn between feeling like Kenneth More in “A Night to Remember”, or good ol’ (Sir) Dickie Attenborough in “The Ship that Died of Shame”.

And yet it was nowhere near the tortures we have suffered in recent years.

For we’ve been through some deep hurt and disappointment. And it is a certainty that there will be more. We are adrift on the ocean of fate.

As Jack Hawkins puts it in the eponymous film “The Cruel Sea”:

“The men are the heroes; the heroines the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea that man has made more cruel.”

And yet on Sunday I was rescued by the lifeboat of a Double winning year (cue gratuitous bluegrass link).

In years gone by, I have always been irritated at the way fans of the “big” clubs could shake off defeat, how they didn’t seem overly bothered when we beat them. Some of them were of course just plain arrogant. But I’m now beginning to wonder if a long run of success doesn’t somehow give you a certain perspective, a degree of insouciance in the face of reversal.

When you are winning nothing and have no great expectation of it ever changing, you somehow take it in your stride and cherish the big moments. You know the ultimate prize is out of reach. Like getting three numbers in the Lottery but never winning the jackpot.

It is far worse to be constantly on the brink of success. Reaching out for the lifebelt of achievement, only to have it endlessly washed from your grasp.

I think I’ve reached that point where I feel we have proved ourselves. It’s not complacency, it’s not arrogance, it’s just a sense that “if it doesn’t happen today, then on to next day”. We have struggled aboard and are sitting, teeth chattering, wrapped in the warm blanket of success.

We have won the Double and in some style. We know how to do it: three titles in six years. It was no fluke.

Of course I want more. Sunday’s defeat hurts, but it hasn’t ruined my week. We have time and plenty of chances to put things right.

Yes, a Double can help with a sense of perspective.

But does it help as much as the detailed, vexing, precision-work of building a model Viking ship? I wouldn’t claim that all is perfection. Too long has passed since I attempted to work a material, bend it to my will. I don’t instinctively feel how it fits together. The instructions assume too much knowledge. Too much is inferred, nothing is explicit. I lose myself in finer detail.

Glue pancaked here, the foredeck skewed there. Strips of tape to help secure a recalcitrant spar too obvious to the naked eye. But I progress. A recognisable craft is taking shape. For every step backward, I solve the problem and edge closer to my goal.

Was it this calming balm of intense concentration that soothed the raw soul-blisters inflicted by Alan Green (though not, it must be said, Mike Ingham who is always more measured)? Did the demands of small detail and manual dexterity help carry me through the anguish as the boys ran out of time, those last dreadful minutes when you know the game is up.

Have I found a way to take me through the tension of game time and the pain of defeat? It may be so.

I didn’t get it finished. It is a work in progress. Some rigging and minor elements of nautical fit-out remain. But I have to believe it will sail; it will be seaworthy.

I cannot get to the Bridge on Sunday, when we play Sunderland. A game you all no doubt feel we should win. And I feel that too.

But nothing is for sure and there are 90 minutes of tension to be endured. So, appropriately given the identity of our visitors, and to paraphrase Elvis Costello:

“I may well be shipbuilding.”

(Let’s have the Robert Wyatt version though.)

There are 19 comments

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  1. Ringo

    BB – Captain Slow didn’t have any trouble making a full-size Airfix Spitfire.
    Though he did have a little bit of help.

    And those bluegrass dudes are ripping off John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett!

    • bluebayou

      I’m so out of touch I had to look up the Captain Slow reference. Sad really. But watching some of the programme on you tube his dry humour is very engaging. He also appears able to make the damn things.

      Del McCoury is as old as dirt. Otway and Barrett were in short pants and making airfix kits when he was already on the road 🙂 They were good fun though. Way out there.

  2. Anonymous

    Even as a child I knew my limitations enough to tell my podgy fingers were not designed for tiny, fiddly stuff like airfix kits and confirmed my complete lack of aptitude for all things manual with Lego [ which after a quick google seems to have gone all movie franchise obsessed since my day]:


    Your Robert Wyatt clip reminds me that he was the Four-fer [?] on last Friday’s Robert Elms show, but I missed all but the fourth track, which was the said Shipbuilding, watching Carlo’s pre-match press conference. Still time to catch on i-player.

  3. Anonymous

    Result – Great.

    Performance – Awful at times.

    Our passing and finishing were embarrassing at times and despite Kalou and the defenders looking pretty good tonight, the rest of the side were poor. I don’t know if it was nerves or simply our old legs but the inability to accurately pass to a blue shirt was alarming for me. We were able to walk up to Fulham’s box but from then on, our decision making and final ball were terrible.

    But a win is a win and the four point lead looks handy. However, for that stamp, Essien’s 3 match ban will hurt us, especially when we’re carrying the likes of Zhirkov and Ramires.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry Habs…carrying Zhirkhov?….he was by FAR the best player we had there tonight, he ran at defenders, got crosses in, made passes and was a right handful. Ramires was the ONLY player, maybe Obi apart who tackled and ran in the last 15 minutes. They weren’t being carried tonight but plenty of othhrs were.

      Malouda started well but then decided to run out of position for every pass from thr second half onwards, Kalou did some great tricks and then someone switched him off at the crucial point. Drogba was a fucking carthorse for the last 20 minutes and Essien was as shit as I’ve ever seen, goal apart. He lost the ball more tmes than he probably has in his last 10 games in total, and was well off the pace of match fitness. And he can hardly moan about the red card…Essien should have been pulled instead of Malouda, only with 30 minutes left. Everyone else did OK, Branners was marvellous tonight, Obi was strong as well, but for me Zhirkhov was head and shoulders our best player, and most surrounding me agreed.

      Still, 3 hard earned points, but seriously way off our best performance.

  4. Anonymous

    I thought we weren’t too bad while Malouda was on the pitch. Hardly motoring along in fifth with the asphalt humming under the wheels, but certainly JT’s demand for “an extra gear” seems to have got the old jalopy wheezing into a reasonably comfy third, with the odd shift into fourth on the downhill stretches.

    But the last fifteen minutes were hideous. Which I suppose makes Flo MotM.

    Should I have been surprised by how terrible Fulham were? I seem to remember in previous years that they usually give us quite a fight. I suppose that’s the major disadvantage of being Fulham rather than Chelsea: lose a key player (Zamora) and you’re stuck with whoever that big lumbering totally useless no. 30 up the front was, whereas we can lose Alex and bring in Branners (superb as usual) and lose Nik and bring in Kalou (surprisingly dangerous, though his improved play obviously hasn’t softened his penchant for comedy misses). Fulham looked utterly pedestrian and unambitious, even when they went behind.

    Yet another game where our Franklessness was glaringly problematic. Interesting that the goal was scored by a midfielder charging into the box … Apart from that moment Essien had one of his games where his radar was way off: he couldn’t hit a blue shirt from anything more than ten yards away.

    Still, these sort of games just have to be won. Same next Sunday. Home form carried us last year and the signs are good so far, especially if the defence continues to play so well. It’s been mentioned in previous weeks but it’s great to see Cech playing so brilliantly again.

  5. GreenlightinOz

    Happy with the result but the performance was pretty average.

    For me, we look lop-sided with Cole, Zhirkov and Malouda all playing on the left, and it affects the balance of the side. Agree with Habs that Kalou was the pick of the bunch, but I don’t agree that we are carrying Ramirez and Zhirkov….. I think both were fine and did their job tonight. What has left us over the last few weeks is the fluency in our approach play, and that is why we are not scoring so much lately, and putting games to bed.

    It’s also clear that the malaria has left Didier a yard short of pace, and I thought he really struggled again tonight.

  6. Anonymous

    One other thing………..Anelka would have revelled against that defence tonight, and tonight more than any other we could clearly see how much we miss someone who can HOLD the ball whilst others join in …………agree with LTB, the last 15-20 minutes were hideous….but it did make it oddly more exciting (nerve racking) to watch.

    A bit like the good old days………..

  7. Anonymous

    I meant that in general, our midfield with Zhirkov and Ramires partnering Mikel, hasn’t been performing too well lately and that the Essien red won’t help solve that.

    Lamps’ return this Sunday will be great but in general, Mikel has been carrying these two rookies in midfield. NOthing to do with tonight though as Zhirkov’s running was impressive compared to some of the others who were barely jogging.

  8. Cunningplan

    Apart from the last 15 mins which has already been pointed out, we looked pretty comfortable. perhaps we’re getting to the stage where as fans we expect to score a gazzilion goals at home. Yes we should have buried them long before the last 15, bloody hell Kalou should have scored possibly three, if not four goals.
    Essien’s red was understandable although he didn’t touch Dempsey, but the intent was there. On saying that Dempsey’s deliberate elbow on Boswinga a little earlier deserved a possible red, he was lucky the ref didn’t spot it.

    On a side note it was good to see Utd/Citeh both drop points, although a Citeh win would have been preferable, lets just hope Villa do a similar job against Utd at lunchtime this Saturday.

  9. bluebayou

    Great to see a graph.

    Under the cosh at work but I will get a report finished for lunchtimishhhhhhhh. Apologies

    Melvyn Bragg – In Our Time Radio 4 this morning. All about the Vikings. I wonder where he got the idea from???

  10. John

    I know this is a bit of a knee jerk reaction and no doubt we’ll learn more in due course, but I do despair at our club’s continuing determination to do things the wrong way. I wouldn’t say Wilkins has been a major factor in our success over the last 2ish years. But at best he’s a good general influence and presence who seems to support the manager very well in an ambassadorial role; at worst he’s harmless and popular. So what on earth can he have done to deserve this?

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