Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Thursday, December 2, 2021

GROUP CHAT: The greatest piece of football media ever.

What is time? Maybe that is too complex (or perhaps too simple) a question. Time itself is kind of unknowable. Brian Cox says it's a force but he says mental shit I don't get at all so I'm not sure I trust him. And he's a bit creepy in the way he doesn't age, seems to be varnished and always thinks everything is amazing... With time, all we can really do is understand the way we measure it. Days, hours, minutes. Tides, sunrises, seasons. Life according to the clock is rhythm. 

A rhythm is but an invitation to dance, and (unless you're line dancing or something) we all express ourselves differently. This is a very long winded way of saying, perhaps time itself is not as interesting as the way we experience it. 

Half an hour is not long. You can imagine half an hour passing and nothing really being said at all and yet it's also long enough to cover a myriad of topics. The strange thing about time is, the more you fill a space with substance, the faster it seems to pass. 

Describing the content of 'Group Chat' is kind of impossible. It's like trying to explain the pictures made by a kaleidoscope as it turns. One minute we're on red triangles and yellow dots with green lines, the next it's blue squares that getting bigger against a backdrop of tiny green diamonds but now it's all turning yellow... 

(I should have added the 1953 FA Cup final)

We're discussing the very fabric of reality. We're discussing whether Chris Maxwell's t-shirts are too small. We're questioning if Richard Keogh can actually handle any negativity at all. We're admitting we're all a bit frightened of Gary. Gary is being disarmingly self effacing. He just traps it and gives it to the better players. Richard is looking to the camera with those big wide eyes that give him the look of a puppy who has had a tough life. Jimmy is anchoring it all with an impish nature that bursts through his down to earth solidity. His eyes light up whenever Gaz says something a bit idiosyncratic. You can tell he really likes that Gaz does that. You can tell they really do like each other. 

What is this thing? Why? I don't really know. It's the easy chemistry of a bunch of lads who get on. It's people who don't pretend to have all the answers asking questions about stuff that people who pretend to know all the answers don't really know either. It's a big whiter than white tracksuit. It's comfy. It could be awful. It could set your teeth on edge and make you want to smash your laptop and curse whoever thought 'club TV' was a good idea but instead it offers a rabbit hole shaped window into a closed world of wonders.  

Footballers are stereotyped because it's easy. They take each game as it comes. There's no easy games in this league but we're going to dust ourselves down Clive and go again. Footballer don't do this sort of thing. They don't just act like people. They don't chat shit and if they do, they don't let themselves be seen. They're guarded and cautious. They're weird. They're not normal. Not just lads like any others. Not like you or me with our mates. They're stilted and coached in front of the camera. Either a bit too earnest and serious or dull and boring like a kid who doesn't want to speak out loud in class reading an answer to a teacher. 

Jimmy, Richard and Gaz could talk for hours. About anything. I could listen to them forever. Nothing happens. Time passes. They wonder at things. They shoot the breeze. They gently poke fun and gently knock each other down and pick each other up. 

They must never leave this club. I'll pay double my season ticket price to give them contracts long after they've ceased to have any use as footballers as long as they keep talking about nothing and everything and anything. 

Sometimes you dream stuff and it feels like it's really happened. Sometimes real life can feel like you've dreamt it. Did it really happen? Did Jimmy really lean forward and, through fits of laughter insist "I didn't see a pistachio nut in the gaff?" Did Gary listen with a look of incomprehension to the discussion on Jay-Z purchasing a ludicrously expensive avatar and then ask the most pertinent question you could ask about a million quids worth of pixels "Why? what can [it] do?" before launching into a coherent explanation of the difference between humans and 'animals and that' and what divides us and why that might be... 

I might create a looping sample of Jimmy Husband saying 'You're not in control of your own actions' and set it to a driving beat. A piece of filthy Detroit Techno or something. 

"You're not in control of your own actions....? (duh, duh, duh duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh) "You're not in control of your own actions....?" 

The crowd sweating. Teeth grinding. Beats and bass vibrating your bones. We're all just fucking people after all. Just people. That's all we are. Pretending to be all sorts of things and finding all sorts of ways to fall out and divide ourselves, but really, we're just people. Chatting shite. Full of ignorance and wonder. Lost and confused on a massive rock going 'what is all this anyway?' All we can do is chat shite to those stuck on the rock with us who like us, know next to fuck all other than the stories we tell ourselves and each other... Dance to that beat....You're not in control...... 

Group chat asks questions. It answers questions. It's completely mental and absolutely fucking brilliant. I love Crazy Uncle Richard, wor Gaz and the Topknot God even more than I already did for doing this and whoever thought of putting them in front of the camera and just leaving them to it is a genius. 

Many questions remain that the group's wisdom and wonder could be applied to, but there's a key one that needs to be asked more than any other...

When is the next episode? 

Am I in control of my own actions? Sometimes, I think not... Dance fuckers. Dance. 


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