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Archive for October, 2010

It’s Sunday afternoon and Mrs. Murray is taking in the washing when she hears a whining down the end of the garden. She pauses, gazes down the path, and turns back towards the house.

‘Richard dear,’ she says as she closes the kitchen door. ‘Don’t you think we should let him in now? He’s been out there all night, the poor love, and it’s getting awfully chilly out.’

Murray has on that dear old sweater she bought him three Christmases ago – the woolen one with the zig-zag patterning. It warms her to see him wearing it as he lowers the paper and looks over at her.

‘Not after yesterday, love. He needs to learn what’s acceptable and what isn’t.’

‘Oh, it wasn’t all his fault. And he tries so hard to make you happy, Richard.’

She goes back to her folding, and Murray sees again the red-faced old man storming by the dug-out. It means something when it comes to that kind of thing. But he can’t do it again, can he? He couldn’t face all the palaver. It would mean he’d got it wrong again. When he thinks of those steady old times, Curbishley… and it’s just not the kind of club to go around sacking managers just like that. We’re no Southampton, after all.

‘Go on, dear. Go down there and let him back in. He’s been punished enough.’

Bloody women. He feels the strength sapping out of him, and he knows he’ll fold again. So why fight it? After all, it’s a family club, and we reward loyalty – we give our people a chance or two.

He goes to the counter, picks up the lead, and sets off into the garden.

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Radostin Kishishev unscrews the lid of the J&B bottle sitting on his desk and plonks a dash into his glass. It’s hot in the office; Kish loosens his tie and frowns at the wall as he lifts the glass absent-mindedly to his lips. There’s a rap at the door.

‘Come in,’ says Kish, and raffish Gustavo Poyet sticks his head through the gap.

‘Raddy! Why don’t you lose that frown and we’ll go for some oysters and Martinis, maybe end up in a bar somewhere with some broads, get our kicks and suffer a heart attack or two. What do you say?’ 

‘I’d love to Gus, but I can’t. I’ve got the Charlton pitch tomorrow and I can’t find the right angle. I can’t find that spark.’

‘Forget it – just dip into that old nostalgia routine of yours and it’ll all be fine.’

Nostalgia, thinks Kish, his gaze drifting to middle-distance. Like a carousel, it takes us to a place we ache to go again. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place we know we are loved.

‘Come on, Rad. They say once you start drinking alone you’re an alcoholic. Do me a favour now.’

The pain from an old wound. He sees the Valley, 26000 people, the Premiership.

He downs the last of his scotch and scoops up his hat.

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Tangoman lies on the bed. His cup of coffee gone cold on the side, pastryflakes scattered all over the sheets. Over by the sink Pardew is grinning at the mirror; beside him Dowie’s face is big and glum.

Tangoman flicks his eyes from one to the other, then lands them on the third man. ‘What’s wrong with you, Reed?’ he sneers, his tongue flicking reptilian on his lips.

And Les Reed shuffles from foot to foot, takes his hands out his pockets, puts them back in. ‘Nothing guvnor, it’s just… there wasn’t to be any more killing.’

‘You gone milky, Reed?’ Tangoman’s face throbs orange in the halflight. In his pocket he thumbs his flick-knife. Pastryflakes on the sheets.

‘No, boss, not milky. Not me.’ He looks left, catches a glimpse of Pardew’s mouth in the mirror, curled to a snarl.

The room goes dark, momentarily; the light dips. Tangoman sits up, draws his knife.

‘What was that?’ he rasps.

Dowie raises his heavy lids. ‘Looks like something moved across the window, boss.’

Out on the window-sill, something is hanging; something masked, caped, and dark.

And the wind breathes at the window-pane: Semedo.

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