Saturday, 24 January 2009

Desire Paths

What was I saying about being the happiest I've ever been?

This week, I've been reading The Selfish Capitalist, a readable work of popular psychology in which ranting psychologist Oliver James has some agreeable things to say about the link between excessive materialism and mental illness.

At the moment the only paid-for product I'm coveting is an internet radio, so that I can listen to wonderful programmes like this sans laptop in the kitchen, before realising - inevitably - that good radiophonics only happen at stupid o'clock.


Today delivered the mighty Quakers to the Midlands, through the medium of Shrewsbury Town. I felt moved to go. I'd never visited Salop's new stadium, though I knew that it couldn't match the cobbled-togetherness of Gay Meadow.

So, I abandoned my car on a link road between the Park and Ride and Sainsbury's. The Meole Brace area of Shrewbury harbours an enormous retail drag-net that conceals the adjacent football ground. In these places, all roads really do lead to nowhere, unless you're looking for a parking space.

It seems that with no obvious pedestrian access to the rest of the world, the disenfranchised fan must find his own path. The New Meadow was clearly built for the car but features pre-bought permit-only parking. The developers were also keen to force pedestrians to circle the stadium at a distance before the pavement descends and sweeps towards gates at the far end.

None the less, just as at the 'pioneering' Sixfields, real people have forged 'desire paths' between foliage and on either side of crash barriers, and by eking out treachorous footholds on deadly-looking slopes.

I like this - the map would probably suggest that a giant octopus had fallen roadkill to a large alien spacecraft. The [relative] directness and occasional daring append some downtrodden humanity to an otherwise aseptic scene snapped together in fresh concrete and perspex.

Believe it or not, I do acknowledge - whilst casting around nervously - the superior and onobstructed views in these new stadia, with their echo-free PA. Guilt. Must spend evening flogging self in penance.

So what did we learn from this game? Rob Purdie, he's important. Franz Burgmeier can play. As can Pawel Abbott - so skilful, so slow, so good to see him back. And Ricky Ravenhill, there's a ball-winner who at best plays like the pimped-up progeny of a mini motorcycle and a combine harvester.

And that, moreover, I don't believe in fate - but fate trumps form, every time. The latter-named fellow was shown the red card amid a 20-man brawl, a good 77 minutes after the Shrewsbury winner that all seasoned Darlo fans know we never come back from. We're always crap at Salop - but at least we played football this time.

Later, as I stared hard and close at newly-pointed breeze blocks following the final whistle, I could only wonder why the urinals are always seeping over, even in grounds with such recent plumbing. I don't know the answer, but I'm sure as dammit that it's a significant motif.

Homeward bound. The skies darkened around Market Drayton, and a Spanish radio broadcast bled into Five Live - it was a phone-in on the subject of La Primera Liga, of which I am ignorant. There were grumbled cliches worthy of Lawro himself: witness, "futbolistas que jugan por la camiseta" (or better-rendered, better-remembered Spanish to that effect).

In Sainsbury's, I had bought hot-cross buns. In the one-basket queue I overheard a shopper confide to his companion that, "they don't know what eventually killed her." But me, I'd hazard a guess - and venture a few quid on a season ticket at Leek Town or Kidsgrove into the bargain.


Shane said...

I had a foray into Wolverhampton today (Dunstall Park - the racecourse). It was cold, not massively busy, and it delivered a £10 profit. I noted the following: (i) In areas not far from the racecourse, there were many signs of people wearing their Sunday best (cf. Christianity in Africa; cf. subcontinental search for the good life; cf. The Wolverhampton Alternative), (ii) My brother is an idiot (cf. how to bet... badly), (iii) Not all racegoers are attractive. Or even broadly sane, (iv) To the West Bromwich Albion and occasional England fluffer-of-balls, Scott Carson, a £200 bet is par for the course (that hosts a 6-race meeting).

Here, you may not be seeing the link to your Salopian adventure, however, feel no distress, for there isn't one.

I was a bit disappointed for Darlo, but it seems to be a division in which very few teams are prepared to make bold bids for the step up. At Vale, Shrewsbury looked distinctly average - despite their summer spending. With games against Rotherham, Daggers, Bradford and Wycombe upon us, I feel the fog and fug of the 08/09 season are about to clear for the Quakers.

Meanwhile... said...
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Meanwhile... said...

Cold and not massively busy, eh? A recommendation of the highest order, I feel!

Likewise, without the fog and the fug it just wouldn't be the same - but even a £10 profit won't buy partial obscurity in the Marches.

Hence, I must find alternative fug at a level sufficiently removed from "League Two" not to compromise absentee relationship.

I have no idea why besides.