Something For The Weekend (142)
So I took the news that Erdington High Street's last pikey sports shop had shut down, the other week, rather badly; especially as the McDonald's had closed earlier in the year. It began to look like a blatant attack on the natural habitat of the common chav and it seems possible, that any time soon, the species could become as rare as the corncrake amongst the tribe of the Yentonians (the correct term I am told for Erdington residents).
It was not a happy moment when sportswear manufacturers took it upon themselves to clothe the under-classes and I didn't immediately take to it, but now I can't imagine dressing any other way. An ill-fitting cheap tracksuit and a pair of Nike Shocks might not be the most elegant outfit since loons and a grandad-vest went out of fashion but heck, I am used to them now and the elasticated waistband is a real boon for the less athletic amongst us. Luckily these things are almost indestructible and so the social-engineers' plan to stave off anarchy by this obvious attack on hoody supply, is probably destined to fail but it is still an attack. I can't really believe that civil order, hangs by the draw-string of a hoody.
As for the effect the recent change in the sort of nutrition available on Erdington High Street, will have on my tribe, I think they should be minimal. Its not exactly like the bad old days, in the Eighties, when someone fire-bombed the Drome chippy near the Vale, which was the only place you could get a bag of chips on a Sunday: the long weeks it took to re-open the place was a very distressing time for the natives. No, the locals will make do with Big John's and the risk of eating something contaminated with salad at Subways. We'll get through this, we are not so easily beaten.
The trouble is, that I think the local bohemians, of which there are quite a few, have a different vision. They would like to see all these American brands swept away and replaced by an ethnically (*) diverse array of street cafes, selling steaming bowls of barszcz and substantial slices of macowiec, served by beautiful Polish girls, in traditional costumes, as we celebrate our cultural diversity by playing games of kabaddi and Morris dancing round the maypole, to the sound of a steelband playing Irish tunes. Sounds great but this is Erdington and not Hebden Bridge. And it would definitely involve some rather dreaded and drastic change. Besides, a united under-class would scare our political masters, rather more, than a plate of bigos, would scare the likes of me.
* Ethnic-ally = a foreign friend.
So facing this sort of social and cultural turmoil, I was rather taken aback by the changes at Villa Park. I, like many others, were just preparing myself for the announcement of the usual pre-season tour of seaside towns, or fiords, as preparation for the new season, and they go and announce that Inter Milan are coming to town. It was a bit of a shock I can tell you and although there is much to be said for a friendly against Burton Albion, Torquay or even Sognefjorden United, this was, by any stretch of the imagination, going it a bit large.
It was only natural therefore that I greeted this news, with an expletive, of which the last word was almost certainly 'hell'. A quick look through the dictionary and I found that it roughly coincided with the definition for 'ambition', a word I'd heard a lot of over the years but which I never quite grasped the meaning of. It seems that ambition is a bit like Tupperware or Ann Summers, a demonstration is required to fully appreciate what its all about.
It seems that having sowed the seeds of passion with their end-of-season party, the management have followed up with the kind of gesture to ensure the fans' enthusiasm does not flag during the long summer months. Its what Big Ron would describe as laying your stall out early doors, with an added lollypop. It can do MON no harm at all when chasing signatures, to be able to present Villa as the type of club who play the likes of Inter Milan in pre-season friendlies.
Other changes might not be quite so easy to get used to. Certainly the imminent departure of Davis, reveals a new ruthlessness about the club. Its inconceivable that at other times and under different management, such a promising lad would be moved on. Having been encouraged, nay, it was actually compulsory, to regard these boys as the mother lode of talent and Villa's future, it is hard to get out of the habit of considering them as the club's best hope. Sorry, but changing my mind on demand is not something I do very well.
Meanwhile, across the city, Birmingham, according to the Evening Mail, are showing equal amounts of ambition. But reading between the lines I gather that their plan for a new ground, might possibly be dependent on the owners, who posses the best part of a billion dollars between them, attracting a subsidy from local rate-payers. Now I am not above throwing a few coins in a tin for a good cause but my list of good causes does not include making donations to twenty-odd thousand citizens to subsidize their chosen leisure activities. For some plutocrat to stand there rattling his tin for alms, when his club has just received a guaranteed income of £30m, seems a bit rich.
Thankfully some things never change.
By Steve Wade