Monday, 25 October 2010

Pompey Pains, Hangovers and Capital Trips

Oh Portsmouth,
My only Portsmouth,
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know just how much I love you
Please don’t take my Portsmouth away...

This was a concept which as a Pompey fan was in a very small place in our minds. If I’m honest with myself, the thought that Pompey could go out of business was a small thought in the back of my mind but never really given any serious considerations. There was even talk that a deal was in place and just needed signing off to take Pompey out of administration and into the ownership of Chanrai. And then on the eve of Friday, 22nd October, a press release was released (that seems a strange thing to say) saying that Portsmouth FC was to be liquidated. Suddenly this little thought given no serious thought became the main thing I was thinking of. Seriously consideration now had to be given to a life without Portsmouth FC (or rather, a life of speaking about PFC in the past tense). It’s hard to describe to non-football fans what it would be like to lose your club – hell it’s even hard to explain it to football fans of clubs that are not and will never be in trouble. The best way to put it would be like losing a loved one (either a family member or a partner). You have a relationship with a club and when that relationship comes to an ugly end, it’s going to hurt. This is where I would go into my thought process of my Friday evening when I found out about the liquidation plans – however these next two photos will explain why that just isn’t possible...

Picture One:

Picture Two:

That is not a 100% accurate representation of my Friday evening on the grounds the bottle wasn’t brand new. But it had about 500ml in there. That was quite something and forgetting the next day involved many a train journey and screaming teenagers, the whiskey flowed. Pompey FC was going out of business and I was determined to toast its downfall along with the downfall of my sobriety.

Morning came, and the sun rose. This was something I didn’t think would be possible in a world without Pompey FC (despite the fact that the club still existed but essentially were on death row). I heard news that the administrator of PFC was saying there was nothing to be worried about. I dismissed this as the word “liquidation” is a word to be concerned with. Anyway, this morning was now filled with sadness, unease and of course, a hangover. I had a train journey to make with the promise of fried foods at the end of it, courtesy of Wetherspoons (well, they were gonna cook it, I still paid for it). Me and Dave (who was not hungover) heard news of promise on the journey to London but again, could not be sure. How can anyone be sure until the paperwork declaring that the club is not going out of business is signed, sealed delivered and yours (hang on, that last bit is from a Stevie Wonder song). Signed, sealed and delivered at least! This news came through thick and fast a few minutes before kickoff. The deal was done – so the weight was off the shoulders, and the hangover was for nothing (which I must confess, did wind me up somewhat). What can be drawn from this? Scaremongering and playing with people’s emotions works; what a fucking horrible message to draw from this situation. But that is the message it would seem. Still, I can proudly sing that I am Portsmouth Till I Die! I know I discussed the virtues of short blogs, and they are easier on the fingers. But this is gonna be a long one. As I’ve now discussed up until the moment we arrived in London, but why were we in London this Saturday? Speaking of which, how did the Tuesday London adventure go? Read on...

Ok, so we arrived in London and the journey there was fairly painless (well, as painless as a train journey with a hangover can be). We had decided to come up slightly earlier than we needed to and visit random tube stops with no real purpose. There is still a mission both me and Dave have and that is to find a Wetherspoons which we visited on a previous London weekender – but that mission failed again on this trip (all the information I have on it is that the ‘spoons in question is literally next door to a major station’s exit, or one of its exits, and it is huge!) Anyway, we did pop by Leicester Square which led to an impromptu walk down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster and around the general area before strolling back to LS. KFC was the food of choice before heading to the tube to head to Hammersmith. Who would have thought the Leicester Square tube at around 6pm on a Saturday would be busy when it is raining? Anyway, got to Hammersmith after Dave was almost killed by a couple who were essentially using him as a standing mattress (which I thought was hilarious) and then decided to cave. It was near 7pm and my hangover was still going strong as ever. I relented and dropped by a Boots and bought some aspirin. On reflection, they did very little to help me but you know, when you pay 40p for aspirin – you get what you pay for. I paid 40p for aspirin and refused to pay 50p to use a toilet; got to love London at times. After a fair bit of time outside Hammersmith Apollo looking at the queue and thinking: “fuck that” we decided that a trip to a nearby pub made sense. We found a nearby Wetherspoons and sat down for a drink (non-alcoholic for me, the hangover might have disagreed with me drinking alcohol). Anyway, killing time in the Wetherspoons was cool (it was either that or seeing Twin Atlantic). Having successfully avoided TA, we headed back to the venue. There were about 6 people outside smoking which I observed were all the adults who were at the gig taking a break (I’m quite hilarious at times). The reason for the journey was here.

I truly did not know what to expect from a live My Chemical Romance show. I’ve been very outspoken about them in the past and a lot of that was due to having not listened to that much of the music and joining the hate emo brigade. When I matured somewhat, it occurred to me that MCR are actually a really good band. Anyway, someone played with the lights before MCR came on and the crowd screamed. My hungover head disagreed with the high pitched nature of the scream – especially knowing that this was just a lights test. I now dreaded the band coming on stage. Sure enough when they did the screams were deafening which hurt. The actual show was really bloody good. All the songs I knew really well from MCR were played which was nice (right now I can’t single out one highlight because honestly there were so many). There were some others I recognised as well and the new stuff sounded really good (with an honourable mention going to Planetary (Go!)). In an old school moment – when the band played Welcome to the Black Parade, I was stood saluting (this will make no sense whatsoever if you didn’t come to route/chaos in 06/07 and spent time with the friends that I did). The gig was just awesome and a solid 10/10 for their performance. One thing which I do honestly believe is that I’ve never seen a band do what MCR do to a crowd. I’ve seen bands like Metallica/Iron Maiden come really close with people clapping, cheering and signing along (thinking about it, Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark is probably the closest I’ve seen to whole crowd participation). But MCR did something to that crowd which I’ve never witnessed a band do before. From front row to back, there were people singing, dancing, clapping and (unfortunately for me) screaming. Would this be the same in the o2 arena? Hard to know truthfully – but the atmosphere was electric just like the performance. One of the best live bands I’ve seen (I’ve been to fewer gigs in 2010 but pretty much all of them have had bands that are great live). The journey home was fairly painless aside from how long the fecking train took to get from London to Portsmouth. I’ve been on trains from London to Manchester that were quicker! Some of the stops are stupid. However what was entertaining was if one of these pointless little stations would come up, me and Dave would make jokes about it and someone sitting right near us would get off there. Always awkward, but pretty damn funny at the same time. My Chemical Romance is a great live band and the trip was well worth it. Would I go to see them again? Definitely.

So that is the second London trip of last week discussed. Seems strange to work backwards but now I’m going to review the first one. This trip was the first midweek London trip I’ve done without taking holiday from work since early 2009 when I did it twice in 2 weeks. Slight bit of context for this trip – 1) We knew just over a week before doing it that we were going; and 2) I worked 7.15am-5.15pm the day before travelling up to London. Surely there had to be a good reason for this? The reason was to see Stone Sour – a band I’d not seen since 2007 and didn’t think I’d get the chance to see this year (I love SS but not enough to pay £30+ to see them + A7x who I don’t like). They then announced they were doing a tiny show in London in a room that holds 490 people for MTV and that tickets cost £14 (with fees). This gig was worth the pain of working a 10 hour day, then travelling 90mins and tubing across London and back with the end result being not getting home until gone 1am. Anyway, this gig fell on a Tuesday which isn’t exactly a fun day at work to begin with but with the good grace of the other decontamination tech, I was able to escape slightly early so I could get sorted and make the train station for the desired train, which I did. Journey up to London was fairly smooth (thinking about it I’ve said that twice in this blog – I don’t recall any journeys where the outbound leg has been a bastard). Anyway, the travelling to Camden went by fairly painlessly as well (the tube was surprisingly quiet but I guess most of the work traffic will have dispersed by 7.30pm). We had a slight issue in that we got to Camden town station and had no bloody clue which way to go then. After a quick check with Google Maps, we were sorted and on the way. The venue, Dingwalls, is a decent distance from the tube station which is good to know for any future gigs that I happen to go to there. Got to the venue and there was a bastard of a queue (always the way with ticketless gigs). The actual venue in itself is very strange in that it’s all standing but it is on different levels. We got as close as we could and waited for SS. All I can say is holy fucking shit! The gig was superb. Again, another example of a very tight live band with the ability to take over the entire venue (granted not as impressive as the earlier example due to the size) but the atmosphere was much the same as the MCR gig I discussed earlier. This gig had more of a party atmosphere about it and is up there as one of my top gigs of all time. The setlist was near perfect for me (almost everything I like from Audio Secrecy, and the best of their first two albums). There is no song I’d lose from the setlist, but I could easily add 3 or 4 more. The gig was just everything I hoped for and more! The journey back from this one was a bit of a bugger as there was a replacement bus service from Havant which was due to make 3 stops which ended up making about 9. One of those did end up benefiting me somewhat but still, annoying. As I said in the previous posting Wednesday morning was not a work morning for me so everything ended nicely. Two awesome London trips and another two awesome gigs this year. These gigs rank in this year’s chart at 2 (for Stone Sour) and 3 (for MCR) which is quite something. Both fantastic gigs but Rammstein @ the MEN arena is still the best one so far. Next up, Thursday night and the 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster!

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