Published Short Stories

 

‘Oh Nottingham, is full of fun...’

If you want to let out a primal scream these days you have to do it officially or else the locals think you’re nuts. With this in mind I’m off to the City Ground for a good old fashioned sing song where it’s a mix of hot dogs, swearing, fags and burps. The fans are in their thousands, amassing on the centre from the surrounding suburbs. From the sky it must look like some kind of Santa Claus convention with the scarves, hats and shirts rendering the once grey streets red.  

I hoped that the communal chant of a football match would placate my growing disillusionment with the world but it doesn’t. It only confirms I was right. It is an incredibly expensive temporary distraction; thank goodness I don’t need escapism every week. I’d have to get a second job and the first one isn’t that great.

The crowd are expectant, offering match predictions born of the heart not the head. They are paying for hope, a more accessible form of salvation than that once offered at church. And if they don’t win it this year, there is always the next. And the next. Amen. 

There are many songs on offer but they are all about the club or the sheep shaggers, our pantomime enemy. But it is the fans I want to communicate with, not the team. They have more urgency in their eyes than the over priced first eleven.

‘WHO ARE YOU, WHO ARE YOU?’ They chant in that flat Nottingham dialect.
‘James’ I scream back ‘I’m James, who are you?’
Unsurprisingly, they cannot hear my specifics and think that I am singing along.
‘STAND UP IF YOU HATE DERBY, STAND UP IF YOU HATE DERBY’
‘Stand up if you hate your job’  
‘Stand up if you hate your wife’
‘Stand up if you hate yourself, stand up...’
But Forest score and my words are lost beneath the roar.

When they add a second five minutes later I jump from my seat and throw my arms around the nearest man. Then jump down three rows and start to cuddle another.

‘Ger off you gret gaylord’ says a scarf clad devotee as he pushes me to the floor.
As I get up I point at the huddled players.
‘I’m only imitating our heroes’

I return to my seat and sing some more songs. Fortunately they are easy to learn. The players run around the pitch passing their toy to each other and shouting when they don’t get it back. Then Forest score again turning a twenty five pounds ticket into £8.33 a goal. That sounds a lot better on the tongue. A man a few seats down from me flays his arms in the air as if calling for help. He is. He just doesn’t realise it yet. Another rips off his shirt and exposes a fully tattooed chest, either that or he has circulation problems. I want to feel part of this mass audience and so decide to strip off as well, instead opting to hurl my trousers up in the air.

 ‘What you doin’ ya gret clown?’ asks a steward.
After checking nobody has removed their underwear I retort ‘proving I am Forest’s number one fan’
‘Well I’m Forest’s number one steward so ger ‘em back on or else your owt of ere’
Honestly some people just enjoy ruining your fun.

 ‘OH NOTTINGHAM, OH NOTTINGHAM, IS FULL OF FUN, IS FULL OF FUN, OH NOTTINGHAM IS FULL OF FUN. IT’S FULL OF TITS, FANNY AND FOREST, OH NOTINGHAM IS FULL OF FUN’

Although this is all statistically true they have omitted a lot of other important cultural factors which we should be just as proud of, such as Nottingham Castle and Holme Pierpoint. They have also failed to recognise that Nottingham has two shopping centres, whilst our perceived arch enemy Derby, only has one.

Before I have a chance to start promoting Sneinton Windmill and other notable landmarks a new song has begun. They are a fickle lot here. You can just picture them flicking away on the sofa with the remote, never able to settle on a channel.

‘SIT DOWN, SHUT UP. SIT DOWN, SHUT UP’

I think the problem with this lot is that they don’t really know how to swear properly. The songs are colourful, humorous even, but lacking real venom. As it stands their insults sound like veiled compliments. I’m sure they would be a lot happier if they really let go, said what they wanted to say, in rhymes of course. Perhaps they should be deprived of food for the week prior to a match or locked up in the shed. That would get the creative juices flowing. Not only would they come armed with pent up aggression but the savings made on food could be used to purchase the latest kit.
The game become dull for ten minutes and the songs are replaced with sighs. One man starts to read his paper. A small kid gets out his gameboy, preferring Super Mario over the Super Reds. He keeps getting killed by Bowser and so returns it to his pocket. Then it is half time and a young girl from Trent FM is being ushered to the side of the pitch, ready for the half time raffle draw. They erupt, barking out demands.

‘GET YOUR TITS OUT, GET YOUR TITS OUT, GET YOUR TITS OUT FOR THE LADS...’
The girl denies them this simple request, just like the wife, the bank and the boss. For the football fan it is a world of ever diminishing returns. But they are undeterred and keep singing, one member of the congregation revealing a particularly high pitched voice. You have to admire them for their perseverance.

‘Get your cocks out, get your cocks out, get your cocks out for the girls’

I don’t know if it’s because my more contemporary version doesn’t rhyme, but it doesn’t go down too well and before I know it, someone is trying to lamp me.

‘Fuckin’ idiot’

‘You’re just jealous you didn’t think on it first’

This football malarkey is all very confusing. I just can’t seem to get the hang of who you are meant to hate and when. But it’s always been like this in Nottingham. I’ve only just got used to blaming the Blacks for nicking all our jobs and now they tell me it’s the Poles. I wish someone would make their mind up.

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