an idiot in london


Sunday, 19th March
Stand up if you hate Arsenal

Today was the day of the North London derby - Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur. I've followed the Spurs for over ten years, through thin and thin, and I thought I'd go to North London and sample the atmosphere.

First of all I trekked to White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur. The club was showing the game on the big screen at the ground, and since the game had been sold out for ages I figured it would be the best way to see it. So I bought a ticket (at this stage it was not even noon - kickoff at 3pm) and went back to the train station to go to Highbury, where the match was being played.

Arsenal play at Highbury, and Arsenal station is right next to the ground. You can smell the foul stench of the ground a stop before Arsenal. (Think of it like smelling Victoria Park from Clifton Hill station.) Everywhere outside the station were dodgy looking blokes (no surprise there) saying in low voices "Tickets for the for the game..."

I thought I'd try my luck. Tickets are ordinarily 15-30 pounds.
BLOKE: "Tickets for the game..."
ME: "How much?"
BLOKE: "Hundred quid."
BLOKE: "How much did you want to spend?"
ME: "Fifty pounds."
BLOKE: "Give 'em to ya for ninety."
ME STUNNED BY GENEROSITY: "I've only got seventy." (no I bloody well don't, but I'm having fun now...)
BLOKE: "Meet you halfway, eighty quid."
ME WORKING OUT THAT THAT IS A$240: "Nah, haven't got it."
BLOKE: "Okay."

So I bought a programme at a price that makes the Footy Record seem reasonable, and headed back to White Hart Lane.

I took my seat in the upper deck Park Lane end, directly in line with the big screen. Group of young blokes (ie my age) sat next to me. I had my programme out. "Where'd you get that?" "Down at Highbury." "Should've bought a stack of em, sold em at a profit!" Shoulda thought of that. "I don't think like that mate, I'm from Australia." (I can sense some of you cringing...)

Bloke sitting closest to me says: "Are you Jewish?" (fair question - Spurs are known for their strong Jewish support, and anyway, why would a sensible Australian support Spurs?)
"Nah mate." Gotta stop saying mate.
"You from Melbourne?" Not how you pronounce it, but near enough.
"Yeah." Given up on explaining the whole Tasmanian thing.
"D'you know a girl called Angela Gilbert?"
"No...why, did you shag her?"
(visibly taken aback by a stranger asking about his sexual liaisons)
"Nice one!" (I didn't really say that, I just nodded.)

(Spurs lost 2-1, crowd left in disgust, looked like they were used to it too.)