Saturday, May 13, 2006

Football Boots in a West Ham Bag

Is this a silly idea? My wife and I were in Ottakar’s this morning and, while browsing the books on sale, I couldn’t help but be surprised by the number of reading groups there are. I’m aware that there are numerous Richard-and-Judy-esque ‘big names’ in the reading group world but there are thousands of little groups up and down the country, meeting every month, where like minded gentlefolk sit and chew the fat, over tea and Hobnobs, Guinness and pork scratchings, discussing their favourite Garcia Marquez in reverential tones. There was even a ruddy Channel 4 comedy-drama series about one. Well, I mused, how about starting a listening group? A group meets monthly, each member brings along a CD (or vinyl) album, a current release of note or a life-changing old classic, plays a couple of tracks, enthuses, discusses, and improves the quality of life for all those assembled. I actually mentioned something similar to S about eighteen months ago and he probably accused me of being a pompous so-and-so but I felt so enthusiastic about the concept I actually left town with a price-list for meeting room hire at the Guildhall (too expensive!) and a light-hearted – and self-mocking - idea for a poster, “Martin Cole’s Listening Group – No Riff-Raff!”. To be honest and serious, in a perfect world, this is the sort of thing I’d enjoy immensely but I can just imagine the first meeting and my heart sinking with Clive from Abbeydale standing up and announcing, ‘Good evening one and all. Tonight I’d like to introduce you lovely people to No Jacket Required by Phil Collins’.

I’ve typed the above while listening to Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express by The Go-Betweens. What a loss.

The Football Association Challenge Cup Final was most exciting this afternoon to the extent that, contravening recent tradition, yours truly managed to stay wide awake all through the match and didn’t doze off after an hour only to awake dribbling to witness the victorious team skipping joyously around the field of play. I was very keen for West Ham to sneak it, especially, as a young lad living on the fringes of London in the 1970s, I used to favour the claret and blues and even proudly carried my football boots to my middle school in a West Ham bag. Having said that, I’m a big Steven Gerrard fan; he remains a model professional in my eyes and, indeed, his dignity and grace and maturity when interviewed by the risible Garth Crookes this afternoon were eye-catching. All the proceedings this afternoon were a credit to the association code.

I have ordered the new Shack album on Amazon tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing them in Bristol next Sunday – hopefully after a successful trip to watch Gloucester triumph in their European final. The reviews for On The Corner of Miles and Gil have been uniformly superb. Here is another combo (see second paragraph above) that have never made a poor record. With most of my Shack recordings being on tape, I wonder if S would do the business? He hasn’t done me a copy of The Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society yet either. I never forget.

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