Friday, 23 March 2012


I recently exercised my somewhat limited (Mikkel-esque) drawing abilities with the cartoon below.

In order to make sure I've captured the essence of the my intended subject, I've decided to run a competition, in the style of daytime TV phone-in quizzes. Here goes:

Who is the figure depicted below in the blue jacket?

     A: Ray Wilkins
     B: Ruby Wax
     C: Table tennis
     D: Lemon meringue 

Please leave your answers in the comments section below, with your name, bank details, PIN number, mother's maiden name, and the name of your first pet (the last two so I can work out your porn star name, obviously).

Other fairly banal posts related to Chelsea FC include: 

Why JT really lost the armband
'Get Rich Quick' ft. AVB

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


As the hangovers on the red half of Merseyside cleared in the aftermath of last week’s derby victory, it may well have been that they were replaced by the sober realization that, despite winning a first trophy since 2006 (and since securing passage to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final), this has not been a season in which Liverpool have covered themselves in glory.

The long and protracted Suárez / Evra imbroglio soured already fractious relations with Manchester United and drew incredible interpretative contortions and opportunistic exaggerations from either side of the chasm – very little of it borne of reason, the vast majority a simple reflex of blind and intractable loyalties that already subtly and unconsciously pre-form the ‘objective’ evidence (one can only wonder how the supporters’ accounts of the ‘facts’ would alter in the admittedly unlikely event of the two protagonists, or antagonists, swapping clubs…). 

Thus, lay students of body language on Merseyside decided that The Handshake Affair was precipitated by Evra – I think it’s safe to say he didn’t offer his hand up gladly and that Suárez was idiotic to prolong the stand-off, perhaps out of some misguided attempt to play to the gallery – just as they acquired the ethnolinguistic skills to decide that “negrito” wasn’t racist in rioplatense Spanish. (Incidentally, it didn’t help that the whole issue was debated according to totally false premises: namely, that the meaning of a word is entirely internal to it and stable, rather than a variable property of the whole context of its enunciation, including the tone of voice and, yes, the kinesics [i.e. body language]. Thus “negrito” can be used in an affectionate, non-racist manner, but it’s reasonable to surmise that in this instance it wasn’t, given the alleged repetition and the situation in which it was uttered.) 

What if they swapped clubs?
Anyway, whether or not it was pressure from Liverpool’s corporate partners alone that brought The Handshake Affair to resolution before its toxic fallout could spread further, it’s safe to say that the whole protracted episode placed Dalglish in an invidious position (another interesting hypothesis: would his support have been quite as unstinting and vehement had it been a player less central to the team’s fortunes?). And, coincidentally, it was the feelings of said corporate partners that were recently cited by Dalglish in order to underline the progress – measured in pounds sterling, presumably – that have been made at the club, where the kit deal with Warrior Sports and a thriving academy are undoubtedly reasons to be cheerful. Even so, one had the impression that the manager was being as elusive as he once had been as a player, all this a diversion from the fact that the club’s most recent headaches have been principally on-field – which, certainly more than are fundraising or PR, is undeniably his domain.

Now, one doesn’t need to go quite so far as the preposterous #kennyout hashtag – perhaps the work of an agent provocateur – to assert that the oft-heard and somewhat vague refrain of “we’re better than last year” hasn’t rung entirely true. Indeed, had the league started on New Year’s Day, then the derby win would have had Liverpool clambering to one rung above the relegation spots, having gone into the game with only beleagured Wolves beneath them (on goal difference). As it is, over the whole season they are only those three points better off than this time last year and, while the squad does have more depth, it is still woefully short of regular matchwinners. 

The £71m outlay on Carroll, Henderson and Downing still looks (at least) £25m too much. The big Geordie’s woes have been well documented, and the other two have but a single Premier League goal between them, but goallessness is invariably a function of the overall quality and speed of ball circulation, particularly in midfield, as it is about the simple making and taking of chances (not all of which are equal, of course, regardless of Liverpool having had more shots per game than all bar three teams). For all the woodwork-banging and inspired opposing keepers, only Stoke and Wigan have fewer goals from open play this season.

The midfield dysfunctions can be partly attributed to the loss of the control brought by last year’s Fans’ Player of the Year, Lucas Leiva, while Adam’s form as a deep-lying playmaker has been patchy, to say the least, and if he is not playing incisive passes then his lack of mobility can be a problem. Then there’s last week’s hat-trick hero. For all Gerrard’s final third thrust, he lacks the sang-froid of a true playmaker and, actually, when he plays in the centre often confuses those of more sober temperament and lesser physical gifts around him. Better to have him purvey his unpredictable and slightly frenetic brand of making-things-happen in more advanced positions. 

All this may be true, yet much of the midfield muddle and toothlessness can be traced back to the deadline day exit of Raul Meireles, ostensibly over demands that his £30,000 weekly salary be doubled, as reported to have been verbally agreed with Hicks and Gillett when he signed. From an idealist’s perspective, Dalglish was surely right to jettison someone he felt wasn’t sufficiently committed to the cause (although, if the evidence for such a view is his attitude after his pay wasn’t reviewed, this is somewhat chicken-and-egg). From a pragmatic perspective, however, letting go a player who was voted last season’s PFA Fans’ Player of the Year (that is, by all fans in the country) looks to be a serious mistake. Whether Lucas and Gerrard are available or not, the playing staff simply didn’t have another player with Meireles’ qualities.

Following their New Year revival, Liverpool finished last season in rampant form, using a 4-2-3-1 system beloved of Rafa in which the most advanced player, Suárez, had licence to drop deep and the advanced midfield trident – Maxi, Kuyt and Meireles – were free to interchange positions when in possession. Not only did Kuyt and Maxi suddenly start scoring freely (23 goals between them over the season, 17 of which came after Hodgson’s exit), the whole team played with a discernible flourish, a style that seemed to be the living, breathing embodiment of that Boot Room pass-and-move tradition in which Dalglish was steeped, and one that appeared to foreshadow how the team would play this season. 

Liverpool's pass-and-movers
However, if that blueprint wasn’t already seriously problematized by having a large, Carroll-shaped peg to fit into these shifting holes, then it was effectively binned with the departure of the midfield sophistication and guile of Meireles, a latter-day Terry McDermott who, after a five-goals-in-six burst, thrived when Gerrard was sidelined with a thigh strain and knitted the play together so intelligently. It was to the surprise of few on the Kop that the Portuguese went promptly into compatriot André Villas-Boas’ first-choice midfield at Chelsea, taking with him 50 international caps and that Iberian gift for subtle positioning and rapid ball circulation that means a partially unlocked defence is not allowed to recover due to ponderous or careless touches, the sort of quick-witted link-play that makes those around him more effective and that consequently enabled Suárez, in particular, to take up more dangerous positions in which to receive the ball.

As Liverpool huff and puff away in the league, further now from the leaders than they were twelve months ago, rarely finding the solutions to win games at Anfield and yet evolving in a cross-based stylistic direction that makes such an event increasingly unlikely, it would appear that – for all their recent cup successes – the wrong one of their midfield surplus was sacrificed in August. Even the most ardent Koppite would struggle to imagine that, twelve months from today, Kenny’s trio of North-Eastern signings will have improved enough to propel Liverpool to challenging for Champions League qualification. And with the emergence of Spurs and Man City, treading water is no longer enough.

A version of this piece was published by The FCF.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


For some time now we in England have known that John Terry (hereafter, JT) is the personification of our island nation’s warrior spirit, the Defender of the Faith.

If there’s anybody who needed glassing in the Nail Gun Arms at last orders, JT’s yer man.

Rumour has it he’s involved with the Chelsea Headhunters, too. Born Organizer. Ringleader material.

JT closes down space. JT gets in the face of the opposition. This much we know.

However, surely squaring up to the actual ball ‘cos you think it’s looking at your missus funny – well, not his missus; the one he’s borrowed – surely that’s going a bit far. Not least because the ball could probably do him… 

Monday, 12 March 2012


It’s common knowledge that Swansea City brought in Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson on loan from the funkily monikered 1899 Hoffenheim – a classic octosyllabic metric form, you will note, combining spondee and anapaest with the ‘anti-Antipodean’ stressed-unstressed-unstressed dactyl – primarily because it was urgent that the Premier League’s impressive purveyors of tiki-taka-lite signed a tall player, a player who could reach up for the rapidly-ageing condiments and whatnot on the top shelf of the boss’s training ground pantry: the pickled eggs; the Gentleman’s Relish; that non-Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, rashly bought with money from the coppers jar; a sticky tube of spicy Vietnamese sriracha; a forlorn and dented tin of Black Treacle; some luminous Piccalilli; that jar of Indonesian kejap manis you bought in Amsterdam when unable to stop eating. With the hyper-insured modern footballer-commodity contractually prevented from giving bunk-ups or shoulder rides, Gylfi was the obvious solution. Brendan Rogers loves his Bovril butties, you see.  

This is all true, and widely known. But the top-shelfery doesn’t end there…

Gylfi’s new-found celebrity, cemented with a neat brace at Wigan on Saturday, has transformed him into a much sought-after advertising tool, particularly for companies looking to penetrate the Icelandic sexual fantasy market. And penetration – be that from the apex of Rodgers’s fluid midfield or in the spoons, lotus or indeed missionary positions – is something Sigurðsson offers in abundance. He oozes penetration. Reeks of it. 

Once an Icelandic 'volcano' pops, it can't stop

The rangy attacking-midfield thruster’s bedroom antics are already the stuff of legend (or saga) down at the Liberty Stadium, where teammates have been quick to give him the surprisingly oblique, though undeniably clever nickname “Eyjafjallajökull-y”. Although it goes against the grain of many nicknaming conventions – primarily those concerning length and what linguists call “trip-off-the-tongue factor” (a good nickname having to be “trip-off-the-tongue-y”) – the Welsh players are very much at home (or llanbwgfwrllygyllylycrwd) with tongue-twisting, polysyllabic words, so don’t find this much of a struggle. Scott ‘To Be Fair’ Sinclair prefers to call him ‘Siggo’ or ‘Volky’, to be fair.

News of this hydraulic pelvic prowess has been splattered all over cyberspace, one or two gobbets recently reaching the owners of niche website – inevitable outgrowth of the highly popular (and probable precursor to A spokesman at’s UK HQ in Manchester confirmed that Sigurðsson – Mr Gilfy – is to be paid a “significant six-figure sum” (£118,118?) to be the “European face” of the brand. 

Top shelf attractions

His duties do not include any live-action performance (although Shannon Pizazz, the owner, has said the door will always be open). Nor are the modelling assignments – both soft- and hard-cock – for the brand’s highly popular top-shelf jazz mag as unpalatably onerous as might have been expected, given the particular sexual proclivity to which it caters. Indeed, as Sigurðsson himself has pointed out, there are grandmas in Manchester who weren’t even born when Sir Alex Ferguson started up at Old Trafford,* so potential consorts could well be “bang tidy”, assuming you’re able to look past a babysitting method consisting largely of screaming across drab shopping precincts: “Britt-neh Britt-NEH!! Get fookin’ EE-YOH. NOW!. Yoh fookin’ cunt, yoh!

Despite all this porno positioning – between the sheets and between the lines – the Icelandic Volcano is reported to be deeply concerned that, even without hardcore modelling duties, his semi-compulsive and climactically spectacular day-to-day ‘amateur’ bonking might bring on a bout of what Chris Morris has called ‘the gush’, a strange condition in which a man just cannot stop ejaculating. To wit:

“A spunk expert explained to me that the whole body just gets consumed in producing semen. You could eat all day and all night but you can’t keep up when you’re shooting the moisturiser like a fucked up oil rig… A guy with ‘the gush’ is in big demand for cream scenes all over town. There are special agents for him. You see a black limo with a flashing light and a siren, chances are that’s a jam wagon with some poor kid in the back, groin going off like a sex snake, gush agent clutching a supply of dick nappies, trying to cram in as many jobs as possible before the spunk turns red… A lot of guys are going invertebrate now, but it’s not easy to keep jelly when you’re inside a woman…” [Blue Jam]

Gush or no gush, the desire to avoid such a terribly painful demise brings the very real and alarming possibility – exacerbated by the often overstated yet not-completely-made-up propensity for morose introspection and existential angst among our periodically light-starved Scandinavian cousins – that Sigurðsson may end up taking his own life; or, at the very least, may become so depressed that he withdraws into candlelit bookish reclusion. Forever. Indeed, teammates have already reported him missing a trip to Hooter’s to stay at home reading the poetry of Nicaraguan modernist Rubén Darío, part of whose sonnet ‘Yo persigo una forma’ (‘I pursue a form’) has since been tattooed on the young Viking’s chest, directly beneath the club crest.

The tattoo, the poem’s final pair of triplets, reads:

Y no hallo sino la palabra que huye,
la iniciación melódica que de la flauta fluye
y la barca del sueño que en el espacio boga;

y bajo la ventana de mi Bella-Durmiente,
el sollozo continuo del chorro de la fuente,
y el cuello del gran cisne blanco que me interroga.

Translated, this means:

And I find only the fugitive word,
The melodic invitation flowing from the flute,
And the vessel of dreams sailing in space;

And beneath the window of my Sleeping Beauty,
The continuous sobbing of the fountain’s flow,
And the great white swan’s neck that questions me.

Of course, it’s not difficult to tie all these threads together by way of a cursory exegesis of Darío’s verse. To wit... 

El cuello del gran cisne blanco que me interroga

The central claim of the existentialist philosophers was that the singular drama of human life, which is fundamentally free, is how we face up to our mortality. Jean-Paul Sartre used the concept mauvais foi (bad faith) to describe, among other inauthentic modes of existence, the condition of living in denial of such an inevitability, as one sees with religious belief in the transcendence of the immortal soul. Thus, the motif of death – of which the swan is emblematic, of course (as per the ‘swan song’ of this regal bird) – is conveyed by Darío using the image of the swan’s neck, the singular form, the very physical shape of which – ? – interrogates the poet. Death: the ultimate question of life; omnipresent, stalking our every step, a profoundly creative force…until such time as it finally claims us. 

Several senior officials at the Association for the Observance of Icelandic Poetry-Enjoying Footballing Porn Stars already fear the worst, speculating that, by leaving jovial old Hoffenheim – where they were going to party like it’s 1899 – and coming to the morbid city of Swansea – with the unambiguously sombre symbolism of its crest – Sigurðsson’s destiny was already sealed, his future traced out. For the free existential self, this means a death wish: I pursue a form...

Gunnhilder Dereksdóttir of AOIPEFPS said, stoically: “In a strange way, having always seen the great swan’s neck of human mortality as oppressively black and not life-affirmingly white, he has already been heading for his ‘Swansea’, even if that were in Hoffenheim.” Ever a fatalistic bunch, plans for his funeral are already being made in Reykjavík. 

Swan song

Ex-Coventry City goalkeeper and world-renowned pattern-spotter David Icke was unavailable for comment. However, Manchester-based Iceland expert Kerry Katona said that she believed he was suffering a temporary bout of “Britt-NEEEH! Britt-neh

* source: Con-Cencus

This piece was previously published by The FCF 

Friday, 9 March 2012


It is with a slightly goofy glow of pleasure that I write this. Today, I took delivery of Issue Four of The Blizzard – at present the most highly-regarded publication in the UK for ‘proper’ football writing – and there, on page 28, is a piece penned by yours truly, nestled in a Spain-themed segment alongside the work of such distinguished football scribes as Graham Hunter, a regular on Sky Sports’ Revista de la Liga and author of Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, and David Winner, the man behind definitely the finest football book I’ve read up to yet in Brilliant Orange: the Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football. My piece is followed by an interview with Sir Alex Ferguson conducted by Philippe Auclair, who has written acclaimed books on Cantona and Blair(ism) and must have a degree of clout to get the russet-bugled one in a one-on-one. Meanwhile, previous issues have featured, among others: Gabriele Marcotti, often seen on ITV’s Champions League highlights show with Gordon Strachan and/or Andy Townsend, and author of Fabio Capello’s biography; Sid Lowe, The Guardian’s Spanish football correspondent and regular talking head on Revista de La Liga; as well as several colleagues of Lowes on the  forementioned newspaper: Raphael Honigstein, Rob Smyth, Scott Murray, Jacob Steinberg, the brilliant Barney Ronay, and the esteemed editor himself, Jonathan Wilson, author of the acclaimed history of football formations and tactics, Inverting the Pyramid.

The honour of this Blizzard appearance – which came about after reviewing Wilson’s latest book, a biography of Brian Clough, for the Nottingham-based LeftLion – was the dimly hoped-for outcome of a vague and improvised idea I had to help me have my voice heard above thousands of ‘competitors’ in the blogosphere – some with genuine expertise; fewer (although still a good few) with writing talent – and to get my stuff to the type of readers (and commissioning editors, more importantly) who might appreciate it. Getting busy getting busy! It remains to be seen whether this will pay off, but this is certainly a fair dollop of kudos.

Originally, I had approached the excellent In Bed With Maradona website, telling them I had a piece that might interest them, one that germinated from a YouTube surf and worked back from there to create a genealogy of the event captured in the clip at the foot of this piece. Yet the further I got into researching it, the more I felt it had more than enough meat on the bones to merit a broader platform (also, good as it looks, IBWM do not pay their contributors, and the Internet is not the best place for 6,000-word articles). Around this time I was alerted by an acquaintance, Gary Naylor, on Twitter that Wilson had read, and liked, my review of Nobody Ever Says Thank You, so I thought I might as well pitch him the article I was writing (and – why not? – a few other ideas while I was at it).

Even though it might have lent itself to being theory-heavy, to using some of the philosophy with which Id grown conversant over the last decade of postgraduate study (since you ask, Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy of desire and radical materialism found in Capitalism and Schizophrenia, particularly Volume 1, Anti-Oedipus), the final article deliberately steered clear of such an approach; if not quite in at the shallow end, it certainly didn’t require a glossary of terms. Understandably given such a background, a fairly theoretical standpoint – albeit one that seeks to open up these strange ideas to everyday matters – will be a leitmotif of my work as I aim to find a niche in the vast virtual landscape of words on football that gets churned out on a daily basis (The FCF have shown great faith and indulged some of my, um, less commercial efforts)... So, my doctoral thesis was an arduous, if ultimately rewarding, engagement with Peronism (via Deleuze and Guattari), the Argentine political movement named after the husband of Evita, and if that effort is not to prove a colossal waste of time beyond the war medals jangling bashfully on my chest, then I have to apply some of its concepts and remarkable  insights to everyday life, football included. Thankfully, Wilson is keen on this approach and has accepted my pitch for another piece for Issue Six, out in September.

Anyway, the article I have in the current issue – which can bought in .pdf form for 1p or in hard copy for £6 min. (RRP is £12) – is the story of the curious short-term rivalry that took hold between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona at the start of the 1980s, a fairly fraught time in Spanish history as the nation made the transition to democracy after 40 years of Francoist dictatorship. Basque terrorism was at its height, and this no doubt contributed to the Spanish military plotting for a restoration of dictatorship, Colonel Antonio Tejero famously storming the Spanish parliament in 23 February 1982 and holding the nation’s políticos hostage for 24 hours – a tragicomic, almost Fawltyesque episode, which was captured on State TV.

'El tejerazo'
Against this agitated backdrop, a rugged and highly motivated Athletic Bilbao side assembled by the crabby Javier Clemente – who would go on to coach the Spanish national team from 1992-98, of course – won back-to-back La Liga titles, this following the twin titles of their neighbours Real Sociedad. These four straight championship victories constituted the high watermark of Basque football, and happened at a time when both clubs still operated a Basque-only playing policy – something which remains the case with Athletic, although the criteria as to what constitutes ‘Basqueness’ is slightly malleable (aren’t all nations?) but at any rate territorially incorporates not only the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, but all of the Basque-speaking provinces in both Spain (thus Navarre as well, with current star striker Fernando Llorente having been born in Pamplona) and south-western France, these together forming Euskal Herria – the Basque homeland.

Barcelona, meanwhile, had enjoyed some success in the cups, both at home and in Europe (they bagged the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1979 and 1982), but coveted another La Liga, last won in 1974. To this end, they signed a certain Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine joining immediately after the end of Spain’s World Cup of 1982, also later bringing in Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach from 1978, César Luis Menotti, whose cavalier vision of football and leftist politics could not have been more different to the authoritarian and defensive outlook of Clemente. The sincerity of the antipathy was evident in the frequency with which the pair exchanged insults in the press. This no doubt spiced up the fixtures and intensified the rivalry, but the conflict was largely precipitated by an infamous and atrocious tackle on Maradona by Athletic’s hardman centre-back, Andoni Goikotxea, which followed his only slightly less brutal tackle on Barça’s deep-lying midfield regista, Bernd Schuster, in 1981, which kept the German out for 9 months. Little wonder ‘Goiko’ was known in England as ‘The Butcher of Bilbao’ and came top of The Times’ list of Football’s Top 50 Hardmen.

Thus it was that two of Spain’s oldest professional clubs – clubs that ought to have shared an affinity, having both been the target of Franco’s repression of regional cultures and languages (Basque, Catalan and even his own galego) in an effort to impose totalitarian, centralized government across the land – became locked in an unseemly short-term squabble, akin to that which engulfed Chelsea and Leeds United in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a rivalry that also hit a nadir at a domestic cup final, coincidentally. With several factors adding to the simmering bad blood (what Spaniards call morbo), the Copa del Rey final of 1984 was a fractious affair won 1-0 by Athletic to secure a double, their last domestic silverware. At full-time, pandemonium engulfed the field as Maradona kicked off with his erstwhile tormentors – his last act in the famous blaugrana colours before being sold to Napoli.

Coincidentally, this May, some 28 years later (no, not another movie in the Danny Boyle franchise), Barcelona and Athletic, the competition’s two most successful clubs, are due to meet again in the final. Real Madrid have this time declined to offer their stadium – roughly equidistant from the two cities and the largest neutral venue for the game – as host venue. Atlético Madrid’s Vicente Calderón has instead been chosen by the Spanish Football Federation.

Anyway, if you are interested in the back story to this brawl, why not pick up a copy of The Blizzard and peruse ‘The Other Rival, Another Way’  much better than the mouthful of a reluctantly conferred title I had given it: ‘Briefly en contra: Barça, Bilbao and the Battle of the Bernabéu’, incorporating the Spanish language and the theme of short-term rivalry via a pun on a famous film). Im glad the editor saw fit to change it. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Andre Villas-Boas at today's press conference announcing
his departure (with Marcus Trescothick looking on)

I have toyed with pyramid schemes, with inventing pharmacological breakthroughs in the fight against cancer, with the abduction and ransoming of elite footballers, with bank heists, with selling bodily organs (not mine; those of poor people in the Third World) – none of these have yet bootstrapped me from my precarious position over the gaping maw of poverty. However, as so often happens, from the point of maximum despair comes an ingenious new Get Rich Quick plan. Here it is:

  • go to a semi-peripheral European league and flash forged pseudo-academic certificates at club owners;
  • ad hoc your way to a trophy harvest, symbolically divesting yourself of the de rigueur Sports Science tracksuit to don some Armani clobber that yells AUTHORITY;
  • remain aware that the lenses of the powerhouse clubs of Europe are always peering into your wee pond, so cultivate the sort of cosmopolitan image that says: ‘I can make it in the Big City without Mama’s food parcels’;
  • at the first available opportunity, flutter your eyelashes at Roman (or, in certain cases, raise your eyebrow coquettishly), mouthing “I will win you Champions League…many glories” in a smouldering, gravelly, Russo-guese coo;
  • come to London and either (a) own it, or (b) lock horns with big stags, fret the place up, and generally give the impression you’re heading for a break in Ciudad Ataque de Nervios;
  • sit back in your Belgravia apartment, sipping vodka martinis;
  • buy wheelbarrow;
  • go to Switzerland, deposit money, cackle maniacally in your beautiful villa on the shores of Lac de Neuchâtel or at the healing spas of Baden;
  • flick through brochures selling luxury modernist beachfront property in unspoilt yet accessible parts of the Tropics, inquiring with local planners about building runway for new Lear jet;
  • cackle maniacally, ad infinitum.

There you go. Cannot fail.

Friday, 2 March 2012


Let's raise a glass to the Death of Banter, yeah?


No, not the benevolent, bearded, once-a-year postie from Lapland for whom Brian Badonde leaves out a stocking each December 24 – “Banta Bores” – but the scourge of grown-up conversation (ergo: is endemic to football).

My co-columnist over at The FCF, Andi ‘Twisted Blood’ Thomas, has picked it apart – its motivations, its dissimulations – and flatly refuses to put it back together, no matter what part of his body is twisted, sister. Reading his delirious final paragraphs earlier swept me into an anti-banter reverie of my own. This is the result.

If you would like to perform a Marxist, post-Marxist, feminist, post-feminist, deconstructionist, psychoanalytic, or simply a banter reading of it, by all means do so. Just don’t send it me.  


Banter on the streets of London.
Banter on the streets of Birmingham.
I banter to myself:
Could life ever be sane again…? 

It’s anti-banter
you’re after, yeah?
The winner, at a canter
(in a Gallup poll, Dancer)
is askance glancer,
footy sage
and neuromancer, 
the virtuous and sanguine
(though never tortuous) 
Twisted Blood
(mebbe Ebbe, Dansk 
in the dark – a real 
[Lars von] trier), 
auteur, formatador
who deigns
to feign
(mainly on the plain
– over zumo de naranja)
an answer to the
pestilential banter,
the existential cant-ah
(à la Mark E Smith-ah),
which makes this lil’ Spanish orange
y canta:
“An end to the banter!”

So he of Blood Twisted
(forceful as a cross, from danger
the long-ball game of the
garra-less, garrulous
little Banter Cocks,
 claw-less, clueless
mental bantamweights   
should be resisted, 
with tiki-taka
Or haka.
Or kung-fu: à la Eric 
Use your head, son: 
keep it on the deck,
don’t use your head
all the time! 
Ab-zurda: two left feet, a
Little Donkey, 
little Don Quijote,
ay, ¡qué burrito!
poor, poor control
(had a sangria or
couple o’ mojito…?):
a shin-toe: a sin, 
sin the Zen countenance of Hirohito. 

But his Buddhis FCF column
out beyond football 
did roam
(quixotic, picaresque,
always chivalresque),
and our gunslinging,
anti-banter hero 
– mantra: zero
for verbal violence – 
our wee Naranjito
(moniker of Santa) 
the stuff of Fanta-?
Nein! Cos’ Fanta’s Nazi coke, 
and Banterese,
freshly squeezed,
is but Nazis on coke:
chalk farmers,
talk harmers,
verbosity not verboten:
also sprech der DOMINANZ

Quick half-time orange
(with which nothing rhymes,
which must be, like, a cwimez)
then more me, me, me, me,
Charlie, Hitler? 
Roman hand-show for head
honcho, like Sancho
in Panzer.
Imperialist banter cancer.
Keep going till the end, 
never enough
wee rayitas
to snort
of the Enlisted Blood
of the Race (Aryanz).
Foxtrot Charlie
Foxtrot, eleganz;
poledance gig
Free City.


And as the VJ spins Hirohito’s 
a bunraku of tweeted
up bobs Naranjito
of Orange 
– (Rob) Peel policing in 
Bantustan – 
and heads off to 
Me voy. Me voy. Me voy 

Partial glossary to foregoing glossolalia

zumo de naranja – orange juice
canta – 3rd person sing., present tense, of ‘cantar’: to sing
garra – lit. ‘claw’: the tenacity and penetrative bite of South American forwards (esp. on the Uruguayan side of the River Plate). 
zurda – colloq.: ‘left (foot)
¡qué burrito! – “what a (little) Donkey!” [Nothing to do with Mexican food]. 
sin – without
yo – I
rayita – colloq.: ‘little line’; diminutive of raya: beam, ray. 
narcisismo – self-love; narcissism
Me voy – “I’m going”