Something For The Weekend (114)
by Steve Wade
Despite last week's project on the evolution of female nether garments, my research took me no further than the pages of a few clothing catalogues and a couple of refreshers in the form of some feminine anecdotes, on the perils of a fashion victim, as regards the trade-off between glamour and comfort, in the knicker department, which included an in-depth discussion on cellulite being not entirely age-dependent. Alas there were no encounters with swatches of materials and no tactile re-acquaintance with textures of either warp nor weft. In fact the nearest I got to such a venture, was a riffle through, not a knicker-draw, but the record collection of a Sixty year-old woman, which adorned a skip in the locale. I think I got a brochure from Saga, a few days later, just to rub it in.
As a reformed addict of the vinyl, where the mere contemplation of those dark Saturnian grooves, would raise my pulse-rate and even the words Music For Pleasure, would not diminish the hope of finding something magical, the sight of someone's once loved collection left out in the rain, evokes the sort of lament in me, I normally reserve for illustrations picturing the land clearances or the famine in Ireland. So riffle I must and riffle I did.
There weren't many but quite enough to tell the story of the owner and the golden moments conjured by these discs. There they all were: Cliff, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Ray Conniff, Julio Iglesias and the clincher and treasure, Elvis singing hymns. So I figured a Catholic woman in her Sixties. Miraculously the manna from heaven, Elvis's His Hand In Mine, had survived sharing its berth with building rubble, while the others had not. So I pushed aside the gravel, rolled away the stone and brought Elvis home and he is with us still. The voice is still the miracle of the Sun sessions and not the Vic Reeves travesty of those Vegas years. Oh Lord, we thank thee!
If this reminded me of miracles past, then I couldn't help but think of miracles present and of course I am talking of Martin O'Neill. In fact the whole Villa thing is taking on the flavour of the Toronto blessing and the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Something has happened and the feel-good spreads out like ripples, as Villa's saviour makes so little go so far - the five thousand have become the forty-two thousand and all are fed and satisfied. Even the unfed say they are replete, just to share in the miracle. Its just a totally positive vibe and like entering a room where there is a great towering house of cards, people dare only whisper their doubts, for fear of being the one who brought it down.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?
Even, when like Saturday, things don't go absolutely perfectly, the blessings seems to overcome the set-backs, and while Villa had a disciple in torment, Gareth produced something wonderful and all was forgiven. All the blessed one had to say to the fallen Angel, was to believe and to not let such calamities destroy his faith. Magnanimous Martin seems to have that knack of always saying the right thing and he has recognised that Juan Pablo has the habit of losing his confidence, when things don't go quite right, and he seems to have set him the task of working on that weakness. Come my brother Pablo, fill your nets, in faith.
Martin, our fisher of men.
But masterful Martin is not the only one who says things that lift the spirit. I just love every interview I hear from Agbonlahor - he's just so matter of fact and is neither daunted or egotistical. When confronted with a tricky question about his old habit of running in predictable straight lines, a more sensitive soul might have bridled, but not this boy; he merely confirmed it and modestly acknowledged the Villa coaching team, who have transformed a raw talent, into something that has International team managers, trying to lure him into their shirt, as his ratings soar. Talented, modest, sensible and mature - what a superb role-model for all Villa youth.
Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few that be who find it.
By their fruits ye shall know them.
Smart Mart seems to have a lesson in everything he says and his sensitive treatment of Chris Sutton, throws new light on the ex-Celtic player's personality. The prejudice is that young Chris is a bit of a big-head and is driven by a churlish ego (his refusal to play for the U-21's) but judging by Mighty Martin's choice of words (reminding him of his great European nights), it suggests a totally different personality altogether and has you thinking 'Of course!', when you consider his struggle at Chelsea where much bigger egos were at play, or even at Birmingham City where he was resented by the board from the moment he signed.
Neither cast your pearls before swine.
When ye depart out of that house of the city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Viewing the European games this week and in particular the stunning quality of both Drogba and Rooney, it was apparent that Villa don't have a player on their books of that stature but both were obviously inspired to such a level by shrewd management and man-management. Making Rooney captain seemed to add years to England's misfiring Wunderkind and he played with the concentration and selflessness of a veteran. Here, on view, was the benchmark for both quality of player and quality of management. Gladly, Villa have the sort of manager, who given the right material, will surely be
able to inspire Villa's future stars to light up European nights to come.
Or as Elvis so perfectly puts it: 'My Martin knows when I am lonely. He knows each pain, he sees each tear. He understands, each lonely heartache. He understands because he cares. My Martin knows just what they need........oh yes he knows just what they need.