Sit back, relax and let me tell you a tale of summer love; or as others might call it: obsession.
It started innocently enough. I just wanted something to fill the void during the summer. Like many others, I thought I could handle it. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. In the end it proved too much. But with the love of a good woman I conquered what could only be described as a terrible affliction.
I’ve never been one for wearing any kind of perfumed products but after a while my new bird insisted I had to do something about the flies following me around. Obviously, being a tight-fisted sort of chap, I steadfastly refused to part with any of my own hard-earned social money to remedy the situation. I’m not faking a sore back and clinical depression just to hand my wages over to some wench, no matter how much I love her.
She wasn’t giving up. I came home today from an afternoon session down The Quay to find an assortment of deodorants, soaps and facial scrubs sitting on the living room coffee table staring at me, measuring me up, as if ready to put in a quote.
Being outstared by a can of Lynx Glasgow Edition wasn’t my finest moment, so I casually looked away and caught my reflection in the mirror above the fireplace.
Was it really so long since I’d last shaved?
How did the remains of my hair get so matted?
Was that a family of flies having a picnic on my balding spot or had my hair miraculously regrown after rubbing a picture of Wayne Rooney on it?
I gave my head a quick shake and watched as the flies took off together with such military precision I thought it must be part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Why had I let myself go?
Only then did I try and sit down on the couch.
“Stop right there,” a voice said. “You, my smelly little soap-dodging lover, are going to have a shower.”
I turned around to find Chantelle wearing rubber gloves and standing with her hands on hips. She had a look of steely determination in her good eye.
I’d seen that look once before, when we first met at The Savoy. She’d told me then she was going to take me home and do things to me that had never been done before. She was right, too. I’d never been tied up and robbed. As I lay naked on the bed, hands bound with Gaffer tape, I knew it was love at first sight. I promised her there and then that I’d love her till the end of time, or till the new football season started, whichever came first.
For a time it was touch and go as to how it would all end. I kept hearing rumours about Armageddon, and how we were all doomed.
“I’m putting an end to this,” she said. “You either give up your latest obsession or I’m kicking you back to the streets.”
“It’s okay, darling. It’s over. The new season has begun. I’m off that shit. I’m clean.”
“Not until you wash and shave you’re not. Move it or I’ll stab you…again.”
Chantelle is some girl, so she is. You can’t buy that kind of love. Well, not if you’re on the social. In the early days of our summer romance I wasn’t even allowed out the house, but I had limited internet access and a daily thirty minute slot in charge of the TV remote control. I tried haggling, telling her that in order to satisfy my cravings for news I had to watch both Scotland Today and Reporting Scotland, but she wasn’t for buckling, unless it involved the new harness she’d acquired for the bedroom. Still, the limited internet access was a small victory.
EURO 2012 came and went, but being tied-up with a restricted view in a flat in Glasgow’s East End meant my enjoyment was sporadic at best. For a special treat I was permitted to watch the final, but only if I wore my gimp suit and doubled as a waiter for the night while she and her friends relaxed with their glasses of sparkling chardonnay, or to give their Carntyne Cocktail its street name: Buckfast and 7up.
But, as much as I’d found love, there was something missing from my life. I realised I was incomplete without an addiction to get me through the summer. Football was the drug that kept me going for most of the year, but during the close season the cold shivers of withdrawal symptoms crept up on me like a long lost enemy. I kept turning around expecting to see David Murray but he was nowhere to be seen, although there was definitely someone lurking in the shadows; turned out to be Charles Green asking me if I wanted to buy any deeds.
Next day I bumped into Bomber Brown. That’s when my hair started to fall out.
It was obvious I needed a fix of some kind. Something to get my teeth into. Something big enough to do more than just take the edge off my rattling but not so big that I wouldn’t find my way back in time for the new season, should it ever come to being.
I’d like to say the eureka moment came while I relaxed in a warm Radox bath but only Chantelle was allowed to use the hot water back then. But when the moment finally arrived I kicked myself for not seeing it sooner. Unfortunately, when Chantelle saw me kicking myself she bottled me for hitting her boyfriend. You got to love that kind of love. I mean, the scars will heal over time, won’t they?
Anyway, the clues had been staring me in the face all the time but I’d refused to see them for what they were in case the task proved too much for my fragile mental health. The truth was I kept seeing Charles Green and Bomber Brown everywhere I turned. They had to be omens, of sorts.
Perhaps on a subliminal level my conscience was warning me to steer clear because no good would come from it. It could only end in tears. Undeterred I decided to utilise my limited internet access to research what would prove to be an explosive project.
It’s fair to say the implosion of Rangers didn’t really grab my interest at first. To the casual observer it was just another tale of corporate greed gone wrong. I’d had my fix of those tales of woe from watching BBC News24 hour after hour when in the secure ward.
However, there was nothing else happening, and after one day’s research I was hooked. For a news junkie it was a wonderful story, full of twists and turns, bad guys, badder guys and baddest guys, and more laughs than a box set of My Family.
I could get a news fix with a football angle at the same time. The best result I could’ve hoped for.
I was so excited I told Chantelle I could kill two birds with one stone.
Not one for metaphors she thought I was talking about her and her mate so she took proactive action. She culled my internet access by taking the wireless router to work with her and hid the bag of green.
But it was too late. To an addictive personality the seeds of an obsession were sown and sprouting faster than a potato left in the sun.
Once allowed outside I took to the streets with renewed vigour, stealing glances at other people’s newspapers, fancy smartphones and iPads. Piece by piece I put together various parts of the massive jigsaw of the Rangers corporate collapse. It had evolved into a saga with more legs than the dwindling numbers attending the annual cultural heritage marches.
Turned out there were two conflicting stories on the streets.
The first one, peddled by the mainstream media, spoke of doom and gloom and, dare I say it without fear of being struck down by the Lord, Armageddon.
The second story, mainly on Twitter, fans forums and various blogs spoke of fans reclaiming the game from corporate bullies, liars and cheats.
Being a devoutly religious man I knew the seriousness of Armageddon and spent many an evening persuading Chantelle to stock up on tins of soup, baked beans and Fray Bentos pies. Unfortunately, my persuasive powers were no match for her physical strength and sexual appetite, so the cupboard remained bare apart from her Slimfasts, double chocolate muffins, cases of Red Bull and enough Kamagra to stiffen the sinews of an army.
Even when I told her someone of the stature of James Traynor had predicted Armageddon she still scoffed at my concerns, kicked me in the shin and told me to stop being obsessed.
That was the first time I’d been called obsessed since leaving Lochgilphead secure ward.
I took a step back after that but couldn’t get images of Armageddon out my head. I saw hail storms where over-pumped Mitre balls fell from the Heavens killing anyone attempting to header one. I saw corner flags spearing mothers as kids tried to catch the pretty flags fluttering in the bereeze. But worst of all, I saw a salivating James Traynor beat a Lambeg Drum with legs of lamb while riding a golden chariot pulled by Chick Young, Keith Jackson and what looked like a million sheep. I tried counting them, but my insomnia was no match for Traynor’s flock.
Something had to be done.
I made a sandwich board and walked around the streets of Glasgow shouting, “The end is nigh! James Traynor has spoken! Repent or die all you diddy clubs! Repent!”
Of course, I was laughed at, ridiculed and warned to go home by everyone who noticed I needed a good wash. I told them I had no time for soap. Immediate action was required to save the country from death and destruction and no telly deal for the SPL.
I don’t know what effect my campaign had on the powers-that-be; those pillars of our society who sit around smoke-filled rooms while barbecuing sacrificial lambs for their packed lunch.
In the end Armageddon was avoided. It turned out SKY and ESPN weren’t too bothered about succulence or the backstreet tea-leaf readings of mystic James Traynor and his fellow churnalists.
Like a thirsty lion in the African Savannah I, and many others, had made it through the parched dry season and rejoiced as the first goals of the new season fell upon us like Scottish summer rain, bringing joyous life and renewed optimism for what challenges lay ahead.
Things were going to be different from now on.
The mainstream media had been exposed as second-class fiction writers; Booker Prize wannabes who could only string a sentence together if it had been provided to them in the form of a Press Release. To even change a comma would’ve proved too much for those poor souls who had lost their way navigating the changing contours of the media landscape.
The demise of the mainstream media, though still in its early stages, isn’t going away. James Traynor still sits like King Canute attempting to stem the tide, but his scoffing at those who seek to expose and usurp him increasingly makes him look desperate and dated.
But the most important thing I learned about my summer of love, or obsession, is that the object of my, and perhaps many others obsession, wasn’t, as some would believe, Rangers Football Club. For during this whole summer they never played any football. Anyone who thinks I and others are obsessed by that club is, how you might say, deluded. That new club means nothing to me. Dare I say it; they’re not even in the same league as my team.
No, the object of my obsession was Rangers the company. You know, those rogues who have been providing a great deal of fun and laughs since Valentine’s Day. To be honest, I didn’t previously disassociate the club from the company. I thought they were one in the same. Just shows you how little I knew, and provides a caveat for believing anything I write. But, no thanks to those loyal fans of the club who have forever failed to hold their owners to account, or, to give them their preferred name, the people, I’ve learned many new and wonderful things about their club, sorry, company.
But, like all topical news stories, it lost its sparkle and eventually got replaced by something else: Real football.
If you’re a New Rangers fan, don’t panic, I’m sure many SPL fans will pay your new club some attention should their team draw you in any of the cups.
Maybe New Rangers will be in the big league one day, whether they take the high moral road and climb through the leagues on merit, or the low moral road and hyperspace upwards through league reconstruction.
In the meantime I hope the new club’s fans enjoy their travels around the hedge-strewn grounds of the lower echelons of the Scottish League. I also hope they don’t embarrass their new club the way they previously embarrassed the old club. We all know what they’re like once the wine kicks in and the old Billy Boys tune pops into their heads.
Hopefully we all learned something this summer. We learned not to believe anything printed in the papers by certain journalists, or churnalists, or lamb-eaters, or whatever pet name you’ve given them. I’m sure we all have our favourite term to describe those whose time has passed.
But we mustn’t leap from the frying pan of regurgitated press releases into the fire of fantastic imaginations and believe everything those pesky bloggers write either. No, we must read widely and be critical of every source. Only then can we build a truer picture of not only how we see the world, but also how the world sees us. Learning from others with differing points of view can be painful reading sometimes, but it is crucial to enlightenment.
As an example of how bloggers can distort the truth and lead readers down wrong paths let me say this: I could never attract a member of the opposite sex as sophisticated as Chantelle in real life, but in the land of words on a screen, he who writes gets the girl.
“What’s that, darling Chantelle? Yes dear, after my bath you can shave me anywhere tonight. Yes, even downstairs. Sounds like fun. Mm, what’s that you have there? After-shave. Smells lovely. What’s it called? Oh, I see. Are you sure Calvin Klein Obsession is appropriate for this occasion? Oh my, you are a little minx.”
Well, must dash, hope you all enjoy the new season whatever team you obsess about or support.