Latest ink. All about my first love. UTA
Tune in your eye-mouths & feast on words based loosely around the greatest club. It's a feast for your brain. Mmm, tasty Arsenal anecdotes.
Latest ink. All about my first love. UTA
Upon first viewing the first half of our match Vs Everton, you initial impression would be one of negativity and a head full of questions. Why was Ozil on the left? Why did we play 4-1-4-1? Why when Lukaku was once again targeting Monreal on our left hand side did Wenger not play someone who tracks back with better effect to aid our Spanish defender? I imagine that most of us have been chewing upon our misgivings since the match finished. It’s one hell of a mouthful.
I think there are a few variables at play here. Santi being woefully off-colour is just one. I reckon he will start Vs Besiktas but I also think AW recognised our diminutive Hispanic dual-footed genius is still a bit off the pace and is costing us with misplaced passes. Ozil is a talented enough footballer to play anywhere across the forward line though. With his touch and vision, he would impact from anywhere. At least if it wasn’t his first game back. He didn’t really connect not only with the game, but with team-mates. This didn’t just occur to him however, but all across our attack. The stark contrast between the 1st and 2nd half was rather startling and served as a pertinent reminder how important Giroud is to our most effective system. Wenger has a point though.
Why shouldn’t the cream of Europe be able to slot in where required? Surely if their chief attributes fit, then they can adapt as necessary? If you play on the left in our team, you have free reign to cut-in and cause merry havoc around the opposition box. That sounds like bliss to Mesut. The problem though wasn’t with him, it was a lack of cohesion that will be ironed out as the season progresses. Hopefully it won’t take too long as the League has a non-stop, frenetic pace that is unforgiving to slow-starters.
It is well documented that our current hero, Ramsey, was utilised on the wing. Wenger has often spoke about our players getting a thorough education of the footballing varety and implemented Ramsey out wide on a few occasions. What raised an eyebrow was at the time our Welsh demi-god was going through a crisis of confidence and form. Fans were heckling and pundits were sharpening their already keen knives. Wenger caught the flak as he insisted on playing him. Look where we are now. Wenger’s stubborn refusal to give in to the nay-sayers has paid off massively. Ramsey aids us in all areas of the pitch and, seeing as he has gone through the darkest of dark days with form and still played through it, can influence a game even when not at the height of his powers, as evidenced in the last two League games. If Ramsey can do it, why can’t Ozil, Jack and Sanchez?
The short answer is they can. Ozil in the World Cup played wide when needed and had impact. The system has been well laid for all the Deutschland players so they are familiar with most roles and what is demanded of them. There was a bedding in period though. Germany had to start from scratch and put down blueprints for all levels of their players, from U16 to Die Mannschaft. Surely then, we shouldn’t judge a player and his ability to play in a position after 45 mins of a game where the opposition got their approach spot-on?
We do though. I happen to be a strong advocate of Ozil occupying the No.10 position and never straying from there. He is arguably the worlds best there and should have that nailed down. It doesn’t mean that he can’t play where required. It is all about the team. Jack has all the tools necessary to play further forward, an auxiliary No.10 if you will. I happen to be of the opinion that his partnership could reap huge dividends if allowed to blossom. More on that in a later blog. The real issue though, was the reaction to Sanchez.
Sanchez was subbed after 45mins in the Toffees game. His movement was exemplary as ever but his attempted forays into the box were quickly snuffed out by a stifling Everton defence. Our forward line were static at best. He ploughed a lonely furrow in that painful half. He was hooked in favour of our handsome, yet maligned Frenchman. Cue judgments from fans who were of the opinion that Sanchez cannot play that role. After one half where the whole team were decidedly poor. Really?
Sanchez didn’t have one touch in the Everton box. In a vain attempt to see more of the ball, he dropped deeper and a little wider to kickstart an ailing strikeforce. In a game where we aren’t exactly at the races and trying out a system, Sanchez gamely battled but it didn’t work out. That falls on Wenger’s shoulders. He CAN play there though.
Sanchez at Barca was often deployed on the shoulder of the last defender. See his stunner Vs Real for more info. He sprinted away and once you see his heels, it’s curtains. If he is employed in this manner, then the same outcome is odds-on. In the Everton game though, he didn’t have a fully firing outfit behind him giving him ammunition to let fly. We were disjointed and jarring. Thus, apparently he cannot play there again.
I just think we are too quick to judge. I did the same when watching it initially. As aforementioned, if the tools in a players skillset are beneficial to a certain position, then they should be able to adapt. these players are far from neanderthals just kicking a ball around a pristine pitch. They understand tactics. A period of acclimatisation would be nice, but such is the nature of our money-driven game, this luxury is often not afforded to them.
Wenger has excelled in seeing players key attributes and finding a better position for them in order to fully exploit the players adroitness. Lauren, from a holding midfielder to rugged RB. Petit from CB to holding MF. Henry from the flank to a King. Even an aging Bergkamp in the Cup Final in 2005 was used as a lone ST. It wasn’t pretty but we should remember that these player’s have a brain. If Wenger thinks they can play in that position, then he usually has a point. Ozil must start in the hole though.
Ollie changed the game on Saturday. We reverted to our trusted formation and we laid siege to the Toffees backline in the last 20 or so minutes. Going back to this system also meant Ozil returned to his natural position and his touches and vision were a joy to behold. Sanchez however, watched from the bench.
Once we click, once we have a well-oiled team and a fit Theo, Sanchez will blow all doubters out of the water. I happen to be of the thinking that we will see him gain some much needed confidence in Europe first. A more tactical approach from the opposition could see Sanchez once more used up top and if we play on the counter then watch Alexis fill his neon boots.
The moral of this blog? Don’t eat yellow snow. Also, have a little belief in the intellect of our players. The start of our season has been dogged but it will sharply improve. Keep the Faith.
My debut writing for the Official Arsenal Website!!!!
Picture the scene; I was ambling along my routine days path, sipping on a jug of gravy whilst ruminating on whether or not I could get away clean from a heist on Piebury Corner, when an unremarkable man clad in a trenchcoat and shades sat next to me. No words. I was startled but my needy nature meant I was more than pleased to finally have a companion to exchange opinions with and train my hamster army. The clandestine man put a briefcase on the table, the metal clasps snapping open efficiently. He removed a padded envelope with no markings on it whatsoever. It was at this time the enigma uttered his only words. ” The Red Fox only consumes the contents of a single wheelie bin “. With this, he closed the case, stood up sharply and left the scene abruptly, rendering me quizzical but also slightly sad that my potential Sargeant of the 1st Corps of Hamsters had gone. What might have been.
I picked up the padded envelope gingerly. Who knew what would be inside? Could it be the rhythm I was promised that would finally ’ get me ‘? Could it be my wife’s Dear Jok letter? It was none of these. I will divulge the contents to you now. It was an excerpt from Carl Jenkinson’s Diary. Hold onto your hats and other assorted clothing accessories, for it’s going to get rather gusty…….
24th July - Training at 10am. Bouldy took the warm-up, but it’s never easy when he’s got the reins. I was sweating by the end of it. Jack had to stub out his fag halfway through the ten laps of the pitch. Abou joined in but collapsed a lap in ‘cos he stubbed his toe on the grass. Gaffer says he’ll be out for six weeks. Gutted for him. The new guy in my position, Matthew, seems a nice fella. He’s copied my haircut though. Alex has given him a nickname, it’s ‘LadyGarden’. Something to do with his surname? I don’t get it. the gaffer made us play a few 5-a-sides and then we all packed up. Mum was waiting in her car to take me home. We went straight to the cinema to watch the Lego Movie again. That’s 12 times I’ve seen it! Mum bought me popcorn as well, but I didn’t get to eat it, Bouldy was hiding behind us the whole time and kept knocking each piece out of my hand as I went to eat it. I know he’s looking out for my fitness but I really wanted that popcorn, it was caramel and everything. Went home and mum had cooked me favourite, Turkey dinosaurs and spaghetti hoops. Lovely. I was going to have ice cream and apple pie for afters but Bouldy had followed us home and was giving me the death stare through the french windows. I’m in bed now, the new Arsenal bedspread mum got me is the nuts. Tomorrow is training again. Still can’t believe I’m playing for them. My dream come true everyday.
26th July -It was a bad day today. Yesterday was brill, we all had epic BANTZ with Yaya, Nacho and Santi when we kept trying to make Alexis do rhyming slang, seriously, it was some funny stuff. Today though, just as Bouldy was ordering us to do 50 squats, the Gaffer invited me to his office after training. A cold chill swept up my back. what have I done? My fitness is around the best at the club, I’ve stopped nicking branded stuff from the canteen and I’ve left Charlie George alone for at least 6weeks. What could he want with me? Training dragged after that, not even Theo’s impression of BFG could cheer me up, though it was much BANTZ. Training ended and I trudged off to the Boss’s Office. I sat down in front of him and he told me he had high hopes for me. My heart sang right there. Something by Drake probably. He then said he’s sending me on loan for the season to see how I get on defensively. I didn’t hear anything after that, I ran out of the office in tears. I went straight to mums car and wept in her arms. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She took me to crazy golf, she let me win as well. We then went to GAME and she bought me another Skylanders figure. It cheered me up for a bit but I just wanted to go home. I went straight to my room and watched Fever Pitch on loop. I was getting texts from the boys, asking if I was alright, plus a few banterous ones. Jokes them boys. I couldn’t reply. I’m going to miss them so much….
29th July -I had a day off yesterday, me and dad closed the curtains, locked the doors and watched the Anfield ‘89 DVD and ordered pizza. Bouldy was at the door, looking through the keyhole, but he couldn’t get in. It was just what I needed. When I got to training today, after polishing all of Bouldy’s medals and boots as punishment for the pizza, The Boss took me aside halfway through the 5-a-side. My team were winning 2-1 and I’d only been nutmegged 3 times by Santi. It was good times. The Boss told me it was a choice between Hull and West Ham. I said to him that I’d prefer West Ham. It’s closer to my family and they have more Nando’s down south. The Boss said it was a good decision as West Ham place emphasis on defence and it would give him a chance to see if that side of my game gets better. He patted my back, scruffed my hair and gave me a gold star. I was top of the class again. He really made me feel better. I went home with a spring in my step. Out of my pocket money I bought mum and dad takeaway. I was going to have some dumplings but when I was at the counter Bouldy was there and ordered for me. Plain rice is nice too.
31st July -In the morning I had a car pick me up from home. Mum and Dad wished me luck and I got inside. It took me to West Hams training ground. It’s going to take some getting used to. It’s a bit rough but the boys seem to have perfected their banter game. I had a right laugh. Training was different too. We were all at one end and there was Lawrence Dallaglio at the other end. He was hurling balls from about 70yds away and we all had to see who could get the header. The last one to win a header had to buy the Gaffers monthly supply of chewing gum. I was about fifth. I outjumped James Collins, who wasn’t too happy about the new boy beating him, but I gave him some BANTZ about his baldness and he seemed alright. I finished training and mum and dad had come to the ground to pick me up! Legends! We went straight to Nandos. No Bouldy in sight! I tucked right in and told mum and dad all about my day. They seemed really chuffed for me. I’m chuffed as well. This could be good for me, though the only place I want to play is at Arsenal. I’m going to get better and come back and nail down a spot in the team. I’m going to show the Boss that I’m ready. I can do this. Dad told me so. Watch out Premiership, Jenko is coming for ya!
That was the end of the piece I had received so cloak&dagger-like from the mysterious man. Explosive stuff. We now know Jenkinson will be playing his little heart out for the Hammers with the aim of being better for us. We knew that anyway to be honest, he adores our Club. We adore him too, he has achieved the dream of all fans, to play for the Club. I don’t think he has finished with us though. I genuinely believe he will have a part to play.
I’ve got to go. A bald man in a trenchcoat is eyeballing me as I down the last bites of my fried hamwich. He looks rather intense. Must dash.
My normal approach to blogging is somewhat akin to throwing darts at words that are written on scraps of paper and placed randomly on a dartboard. I’m then blindfolded. Then spun around 13 times until nausea kicks in. This story I’m about to tell you though, deserves better than my meandering prose. Those that are familiar will realise it is ironically just as much about missed chances as it is chances taken. Those that are not aware of this tale of glory and utter tragedy, like myself before last week, I hope to enrich your minds and raise awareness of a player that never got the opportunity to flower into the wonderful talent he so clearly evidenced. This is about the book ’ Stuck in a Moment: The Ballad of Paul Vaessen ‘.
I was given the opportunity to attend the launch event for this book by a friend of mine who is a wonderful writer. He knew I would enjoy learning more about the rich history of our wonderful Club and gleaning it first hand from ex-Gunners always makes the tutorial more enjoyable. I leapt at the chance but felt strangely guilty as the player that the book centred on, I had little recollection of. My memory of Arsenal pre-1989 is hazy at best. Seeing as I was born in 1983, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing! I do try and read as many books, articles and blogs that explain and recount our humble beginnings and formative years. I see these events as our foundation. The annals of our past is as rich a tapestry as you’ll find in the entire sport and we are rightfully proud of them. Bastin, Brady, George, Mclintock O’Leary, Davis were all names that even Gooners with birthdays after the millenium would be aware of. Paul Vaessen however, escaped my knowledge.
I had heard of his name in conversations that skirt the memory, but remain in the background. This elusive name raised questions that I had to answer. I couldn’t very well go to an event housed at the Home of Football if I didn’t know who he was! If I’m honest with myself though, I was also frustrated at my own ignorance. A book had been written about this man, how do I not know of him?!
Upon commencing research, within about half an hour, realisation as to why Vaessens’ story needed to be told dawned upon me coldly. If you aren’t familiar, I’ll attempt to portray it as well as my vocabulary allows. I’ll start with the dazzling moment that Vaessen spent his life trying to recreate.
Paul Vaessen came to prominence on the 23rd of April 1980. It was a Uefa Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final at the home of Juventus. Juve were hot favourites, but seeing as we were the opponents, and of our constant disregard of stacked odds, we took the fight to them. Juve were filled with gems in their team, an XI that was peppered with class and nous. Zoff, Gentile, Prandelli, Bettega. It seemed that The Old Lady of Turin had plans for playing for the draw, seeing as a 1-1 draw and a vital away goal earned at Highbury would mean progress for the Turin side. The script was set for Italian progression, and much of the game, despite litres of sweat and elbow grease from our boys in yellow and blue, portrayed the Juventus approach. Each team had chances, but the game was agricultural to say the least.
A spritely Barry Davies made reference to the robust defensive nature of both teams and the cagey approach repeatedly. It seemed that even he thought it was written in stone that we would be eked out of the Tournament by the Italians with the swagger and gamesmanship. No one could envisage what this game, that had so far been turgid to watch, had in store.
The 78th minute saw the arrival of the fresh-faced Paul Vaessen, in place of the hard-working but ultimately futile David Price. No-one expected anything from Vaessen, to me it seemed as though Terry Neill was throwing dice on the craps table and hoping for 7’s. The goal was when Terry Neills’ gamble paid off in a big way.
At the launch event, the writer, Stewart Taylor, had tracked down a copy of the match in Turin, from the British Film Institution. It is the last copy in known existence. Audio sets a scene but seeing something paints a picture that can’t be matched. My thanks to the author for this, as the goal was special.
As mentioned previously, the game was a snooze-fest. seeing as it was a high-profile European game, with high stakes, the thought of losing another goal reigned in our attacking instincts, even though we were known for our defence back then. The match as a spectacle was a non-event. In direct contrast to that, the goal, set against a backdrop of scrappy play, seemed to have been derived from a higher plane. Vaessen had been placed wide-right and to pose a threat when crosses came in. The move started with a one-two between Graham Rix and Frank Stapleton, with Rix scampering away down the left after the only flowing move of the game swung open the notoriously rusty hinges on Juve’s backline. Out of view, no doubt Paul Vaessen sees that Rix is going to put in a cross. He must’ve bust a lung to get in the box. Acting on his Gaffers orders to get on the end of wide deliveries, he is in the box. The ball is distributed by Rix. It looks too high at first. The imperious Dino Zoff in the Juventus goal no doubt thinks so too, but it dips rapidly and Zoff comes to claim it. The ball that was swung in by Rix is also fast and powerful, quite a heady mix for a cross. The combination does enough to befuddle one of the games’ greatest Goalkeepers, who attempts to pluck it out of the air but gets caught underneath it, one glove excruciatingly near the ball but not close enough to divert its course. Its path was always meant for one man. Behind the flailing Zoff, is the opportunistic Vaessen. He nods it in on the 88th minute. It is enough to send the shellshocked favourites Juventus out of the Cup and enable Arsenal to progress to the Final. Pure Hollywood for the teenager. Roy of the Rovers-esque. What a beginning to what will hopefully be a fruitful career. The fruits did not, unfortunately, drop from the tree, instead they hung alluringly close yet out of reach.
Paul Vaessen retired from football in 1982, before he was 21. A serious knee injury abruptly ripping away any dreams Vaessen had of making a career of being a pro footballer, undoubtedly the only dream he had. In the book, the physio at Arsenal at the time, Fred Street, said that the injury was bad. Cartilage, mediate and cruciate were all done for. Nowadays, those words still strike fear into a fans heart when heard in conjunction with one of our players, but we are aware that the expertise that is at the Club is more than ample to not only maintain a career but to also curtail any absence to its minimum. Back in 1981, when the tackle that primarily started his sorrowful slide took place however, these sorts of ailments were unfortunately vocation-changers.
I could wax lyrical about the rest of the story regarding Vaessens’ catastrophic fall from grace, but the book illustrates it better than I could hope to. The Launch event for the book also gave me some insight and some answers to a few nagging questions I had burning away. Hopefully the Ex-Gunner panel that was present and fronted by the always affable Tom Watt would prove to be the balm that would soothe the irritation caused by my ignorance.
The Suite that was to hold the event was suave and classy, resembling a West End Wine Bar. My friend and I exchanged a few pleasantries with others and hastily took to the rows of seats, in Arsenal Red of course. The panel didn’t disappoint. Steve Walford, Brian Talbot, Graham Rix and Paul Davis. I won’t apologise when I say that when I met Paul, I had a slight fanboy moment, but he took it in his stride. Even when I forced a camera lens upon him, he just amiably smiled, his eyes screamed in cold terror though. Probably.
We watched the last 15mins, the most pertinent of the game, of the Arsenal Vs Juve game, and was then treated to the panel answering questions posed by the unflappable Watts. The usual soundbites were uttered by the players but a sadness that couldn’t quite be reached, tainted each response. They say that there is not much worse than talent wasted, but for that talent to not only go unflourished but for the rest of his short life to be mired in sadness makes it so much worse. It was great to hear from ex-players about behind the scenes back then, such as when Talbot stated that managers had an obsession with getting out their Best XI, regardless of knocks or niggles, with Talbot himself regularly needing cortisone injections and playing whilst not 100%. He also revealed that, during that 1980 season, due to the influx of matches Arsenal were playing due to Cup runs, training took a back-burner and the squad just focused on the next match. Can you imagine Arsene letting that happen now?! Can you even comprehend Diaby having a cortisone injection?
Paul Davis, the man, the Legend, revealed that he played football with Vaessen at youth level when Vaessen was plying his trade with Blackheath. He used to operate in the middle of the park, but it wasn’t until he came under the watchful gaze of Roger Thompson ( who was also part of the illustrious panel ) youth team coach at the time and mentor to many Arsenal household names, Davis among them, that his aerial talent and hold-up play was utilised correctly. Davis, in fact the whole panel, was in unanimous agreement that the boy could play and would have had a long career in football if his knee hadn’t have been brutalised in a reserve match against spurs. Graham Rix mentioned that, no matter if you’ve retired from playing in your late thirties or if you’re forced to give up the game you adore by the medical professional hired by your Club at 21, the buzz you get from the camaraderie of a tight-knit squad, the high you get from running out on the pitch in front of thousands, is something you will always attempt to replicate, but never will. Like a tired boxer stepping into the ring way past his ‘Best Before Date’, it seems the bright lights and adoring fans are an experience that is nigh-on impossible to recreate, leaving the rest of your life seeming to pale in comparison. What a horrible thought.
It was so insightful listening to these players talk about their past experiences and, more importantly, their memories of Paul. After hearing what they had to say, I felt somehow connected to his tale, much like if you hear his name in conversation, you will feel an impulsion to reveal what a dramatic riches-to-rags story Vaessen had.
After the panel had fielded a few audience questions, we all had an opportunity to get our books signed. I once more pestered Paul Davis like a human mosquito, his repeated attempts to ignore me were in vain. I got his signature, another photo and a personally autographed restraining order. After queuing up to gain endorsements from the rest of the panel, we left the lavish suite.
I noticed a few parallels that eerily cropped up whilst eagerly listening to the valuable anecdotes from the ex-Gunners. Last minute goal sends us through against the much fancied opponents, who had a team that were studded with world-class stars. Rix said no-one gave them a ” snowflake in Hells chance “. Juve were unbeaten at home against English opponents, so that’s one amazing home record. Premonitions of Anfield ‘89 anyone? Like I mentioned earlier, we never had much regard for fancied adversaries or huge odds.
I could go into more detail, like how Juve were on massive money to win the game, how on the comeback trail from injury Paul was singled out by an unforgiving crowd, how Vaessen, all 6”2 of him, had the ideal frame and quick feet to succeed, how after his career was chopped mercilessly at 21 he found himself on the wrong end of the law, or how if Sporting Chance, the charity and clinic for struggling footballers and ex-pro’s had existed back then would Vaessen have successfully battled his demons, but that isn’t for me to surmise nor present to you. Not when the volume penned by Stewart does it better than I could ever hope to.
I implore you to read his story. I urge you to dig a bit deeper. Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, Tony Adams and countless other leading lights of The Cannon, all have their story and achievements mentioned and shown to all and sundry. Rightfully so as they contributed so much. The career of Paul Vaessen could have been mentioned in the same breath. We will never know. For one moment though, a sliver of time that is hazy in hindsight, Paul will live on as a Gunner that lived the dream and made fans delirious with pleasure. We can thank him for that.
My thanks to @plasticspam and @RoyalArsenalMRA for filling in my cerebral blank spots and giving their views. Invaluable stuff and a pleasure to meet you both.
I hope I’ve written at least a part of Paul Vaessen’s story with the integrity it warrants. I also wish that you enjoy reading my blithering musings.
"WHEN YOU LAST TUNED IN, OUR DASHING HEROES WERE DELVING DEEP INTO THE SORDID UNDERBELLY OF STAMFORD BRIDGE ON THE HUNT FOR THE NEFARIOUS MISCREANT WHO HAS BEEN SPINNING A WEB OF TRANSFER SPURIOUS-NESS!!
THE TWO WONDER-DETECTIVES HAD BEEN COWARDLY KNOCKED OUT COLD BY AN UNKNOWN ASSAILANT!
CAN OUR AMAZING DUO ESCAPE WITH THEIR LIVES?
CAN THEY FOIL THE DASTARDLY PLAN OF THE TRANSFER SHIT-SPREADER?
WILL I EVER STOP TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS?!
IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT FOLKS! IT’S THE THRILLING CONCLUSION TO…….
' THE ITK ALWAYS RINGS TWICE!!!! ' “…….
When finding yourself in a squeeze tighter than a pair of Bee-Gee’s slacks, in my experience hunting justice for the common man, I’ve realised one thing: avoid them. Nothing good can come of a lack of choice and being caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s god-damn uncomfortable and you can never reach your lighter for a smoke….
So here we are. The last thing I remember before awakening to a feeling of being bound was the lift doors opening and what seemed like metallic computer mice launched toward my noggin. Not just me though, Gunnersaurus as well.
Upon opening my groggy eyes, I see that I haven’t been moved that much. Tied up, bound to a surprisingly comfortable desk chair, complete with wheels on the bottom, and put in the centre of a semi-circle couch, which currently housed about five heavy-set guys who seemed intent on at some point finding out whether my ribs can contort. It doesn’t seem as if they’re here to play Backgammon.
The room is rather large, exposed brickwork giving it a feel of intentional decay, much like a modern club. Never liked those places, give me a smoky gin-joint any day of the week. The whole area had an aura of crimson, probably from the red neon bulbs overhead. Leather couches lined the edges of the room, sat in these couches were skinny girls wearing a variety of gaudy leather-wear and other things that would make their parents blush and say Hail Mary. Their attentions however, were all on the centre of the room.
In the centre of the room, on a floor of polished steel it would seem, were four desks, all aluminium. They had been pushed together to form a square. Atop these cold items of furniture were what resembled computers with huge flat-screen monitors. The screens must have been 40inch or you can call me PeeWee. The PC’s looked like futuristic beings from another planet. I’ve always been a luddite, favouring the HB pencil and notepad, GS was always the computer whizz, but even his computer wouldn’t recognise these monsters if they bumped into each other at a PC Party. They glowed green, with circuit boards and wires coming out of the yazoo. It was like a scene from a sci-fi movie. Not a particularly good one because I had the headache from hell and the lighting was exacerbating it. What was this ear-bleeding cacophony being filtered through the speakers in the wall? No….It can’t be. Say it ain’t so. Not Beiber…..
A chorus of ‘Baby Baby’ laid assault upon not only my eardrums, but my mind as well. I struggled against the binds, but they were fine straps that resisted my best attempts. I hear a high-pitched mewling to my left, I see my good buddy GS in the same boat as me. Strapped and in music hell. His struggle and fight were far greater than mine but to no avail, the straps held tough. The music was growing louder now, I don’t think I can t….
Do you recall when I told you that our chances were slim and none? Well dollface, it seems ‘slim’ just left town…..
At that moment, the music cut off. Thank Dennis Bergkamp. All the stragglers and idiots with the nifty haircuts were silent. Lights focused on the four desks. At each desk now sat a figure. One stood up…..
"I see you’ve awoken from your impromptu slumber fellas! How nice! Let me introduce myself. How can we expect to have a conversation when you can’t address me properly!"
The figure, now in full view, began walking toward me. He was wearing a stained t-shirt that was two sizes too small for his burgeoning gut. He had hair of no discernible style and wore Umbro tracksuit bottoms with an elasticated waistband that was already screaming in submission. In one hand, he brandished a box of MicroChips. Not the technical variety, the cardboard potato variety. In the other was a jar of Hellmans Mayonnaise that in pauses between his sentences he dipped his digits into and slurped off. If this guy ever saw daylight, let alone speak to the fairer-sex, then I’ll be Bendtners Uncle.
He stopped just short of me. His stench was reminiscent of unwashed geriatrics and forgotten cheese.
" I believe you know me as IndyKalia, but we are known by many other tags. We have been named many but what we truly are…."
All of the supposed followers of this cadre stood up as one. All straight as an arrow, backs unyielding…
" WE ARE LEGION ". All in unison, like a Hammer Horror version of a Choir.
" Thank you, my pets. Now. I believe you’ve been digging, haven’t you naughty boys? You have been looking for the source to all those awful transfer links that seem to be doing the rounds like some terrible smell? Well. I can tell you this, DETECTIVES. You have found the hands which typed them, but I can’t reveal my sources…."
That meant this ran deeper than Chuck Norris’s beard. I looked at my old pal GS. He wasn’t writhing with customary anger now. He seemed tranquil, if anything. No, not tranquil. Focused. He was up to something. Think back to our original encounter when we had our feet up in our office. Damn, right now, I miss our office. Anyway, When that porcelain-faced Damsel bust not only my door but my heart, GS had been ready to file his deadly claws. Maintenance, he liked to call it. Well, he never quite managed to carry out that safety procedure, did he? Thank Bergkamp he didn’t. He was busy using those sharp utensils to rip through the fabric that currently had his hands behind him. You beautiful Green Bastard. Still, even with a raging dinosaur on my team, we were ridiculously outnumbered.
Indy snapped me out of my hopeful reverie.
" WHERE, ARE, MY, MANNERS!! Would you like to meet the rest of the Doomsday Team? Do you like our name? Too apocalyptic? Ah, who cares what a goody two-shoes detective thinks! It’s Fabulous! "
The figures who were at the central desks waddled forward, aside from one, who dragged what should have been a limb, behind him.
" Detective, I give you…….
AND OUR SPECIAL GUEST, DRIPPING WITH EVIL….IS SALOMON KALOU!!!
The guy with the floppy leg was Kalou. the other two were as greasy and as corpulent as Indy. They revelled in my apparent hopelessness and it would seem that Kalou was there to act as their abhorrent muse. Dressed in a patchwork quilt of football jerseys, ranging from my beloved Arsenal to Evian, from Malmo to Morton. He danced suggestively in front of the filthy rumour-mongers. It was evident that the dancing ‘inspired’ them, as their fingers twitched as if typing an invisible keyboard and their Umbro trackpants developed a small dark pattern at the crotch.
A small chink of light appeared on the far wall in the corner. A head popped out of it. a voice from the bright aperture uttered, ” Indy, Sir, your mum is on the phone. She wants to know if you want turkey dinosaurs or chicken nuggets for….”
Indy went apopleptic ” TELL HER IT’S ALWAYS TURKEY DINOSAURS! I’M BUSY DOING IMPORTANT WORK AND SHE STARTS TO CA…”
" She wants to talk to you ". The voice, the chink of light then disappeared sharply.
Indy fished out a mobile phone from his no-doubt disgusting pocket.
" Muuuum, I told you I was busy doing important eeeevil wooorrrk….Yes……Yes….I know……But I……Yes mum……………………..Love you too "
I looked over at GS. This was our chance. All of his gang were staring at Indy and sharing his awkward moment. GS had freed both gargantuan hands and was now free to rip open the straps tying his feet together. It took a second.
With that, GS leapt off the chair that had been keeping him captive. To this day I still have never seen him as angry. The nearest is whenever John Terry comes to the Emirates but my faithful green friend that day allowed me to be privy to a raging ballet as he tore into the ITK’s faithful henchmen. They were still in a semi-trance from that shameful phonecall. The next thing they knew was a 4inch sharp claw had rendered their insides as external, gory decorations. From person to person he attacked with roaring glee. The red mist had not only descended, but he was surfing on a crest of a bloody wave.
GS found himself near my position and handily freed me of my bonds. A curt nod was enough to acknowledge my appreciation.
All that was left was about three of the following and Indy, Ben, Wayne and Salomon. GS bared one tooth, growled what must’ve been the infamous ‘Brown Noise’ because Ben and Wayne simultaneously shat themselves and ran for the exit.
Indy roared……” BRING OUT THE GIMP!!!! “
A large wrought-iron cage came crashing down from the ceiling, directly hitting the space between us and our vile enemies. It was empty. A scutter could be heard revertebrating around the room. It was out there…..
Just then, it came into view as it launched itself at GS. GS struggled to stay on an even keel, but I identified it. It was Yann M’Vila. So that’s where he has been hiding….
Kalou then sought to protect his leader. He cartwheeled toward me and flung his limp limb toward my head. It was a lax attempt at inflicting pain. I caught his foot, it felt completely boneless. I wrenched it toward me, so he was close enough to smell my fist. He did. ZONK!!! It was the last thing he did before blissful unawareness hit him. He crumpled to the floor.
I looked to my compadre, who had everything under control. He had gotten Yann into a headlock and booked a medical with BUPA for him. That was all he had wanted. The animal Yann had become quelled instantly. He shook GS’s ample paw and made his way from this now redundant hovel. The other henchmen, witnessing their primary weapon being disarmed so easily, turned on their cowardly heels and fled. Pity, I had a taste for it. I took a step toward Indy, whose abundant paunch now quivered like a startled jelly.
" Pleaseplease, I can’t get into a fight. If my mum finds out she’ll ground me for weeks and take away the WIFI, please don’t hit me my mum can’t know!!!… "
I feinted a punch halfway toward our timid wrongdoer. It was enough to send him to his knees.
" OKOKOKOK, please, don’t hit me my mum will kill me!!! "
" Reveal your ‘sources’ to uz. Eef you do, you can walk out of ‘ere now. "
His answer froze GS and chilled my blood……..
We raced out of Stamford Bridge and West London without speech. Cigarette after cigarette was smoked. No words needed to be exchanged between us. We knew we had to end things. We knew where we needed to go….
A Plush, expansive apartment overlooking the Thames. A knock on the door, polite but with intent.
The inhabitant walked toward the door, clad in nothing but a pair of designer pants that were clearly too small for him but he was of the opinion that this was fashion. The smell of cooking bacon fillled the living space.
As the mystery man attempted to utter a querying greeting, my fist met his jaw as the door was opened. Fury coursed through my veins. Fury borne from betrayal.
" ‘Ow could you do zees, afterr everyzink I ‘ave done for you, that Arsenal ‘as done forr you. Why spread zese liiieeess?"
My pain leaked across my words. My pain was apparent.
A thin curl of a smile poked itself across Niklas Bendtners now spoiled mouth. He wiped blood from his leaking lips. It smeared across his visage and teeth.
" It was clear you were never going to make me the ‘New Henry’, even though my talent deserves it. You loaned me out, they didn’t like me, so I came back. I was too big for Arsenal and YOU didn’t like it. So I used my superior intelligence to pull the rug from underneath you. If my talent couldn’t beat you, then I would make THE FANS hate you. I recruited computer geeks with too much time on their hands to concoct transfer links. Transfer links that would serve only to infuriate the fans as it makes it seem as if you’re not active in the market. How can you sign someone who isn’t even in talks with you? So the fans would turn slowly, until they realised that you were too small-time for the Club. But you had to go spending and snooping didn’t you! You couldn’t keep recruiting youngsters on the cheap! You had to get Ozil! Sanchez! Chambers! Then you had the audacity to try and send me to PALACE!!! I should be gracing the Barcelona teamsheet, or Real!! How DARE you treat the Royal Prince of Denmark this way!! I will build up my network of ITK’s again! We will dethrone you Arsene!! I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you and that pesky dinosaur!!! "
I took him by his ridiculous ponytail. With excessive force. He yelped but I had no time for his voice, or his procrastinating, nor his protests. I had given him everything he had needed to make it and it still wasn’t enough to please him. sometimes, you have to realise that, just like with Anelka, you had to cut your losses and start afresh.
" That iz enough from you. You will be going farr away from ‘ere, Niklas. No more connections wiz us, no more trouble. Go lay them at anuzzer clubs doorstep. I ‘ereby terrminate your contract. "
Bendtners eyes widened. He sank to the floor.
" What do I do now? Do YOU HEAR ME?!?!? What do I do now? "
GS threw a Huawei mobile at him.
I said to him ” Florentino Perez is on ze uzzer end of ze phone. Why don’t you ask ‘im? “.
GS and I left the apartment, and our Danish failure, behind. Permanently.
The drive back to the office was silent again. A sense of moroseness settled over us like an invisible blanket. What a waste of resources. Of talent. If only he had applied himself like Ramsey….
As we pulled up to HQ, the Dame who yearned so desperately for our help at the beginning was standing at the doorway, just as breathtaking as before. She was holding what appeared to be tickets. She walked elegantly toward the driver window. she waited for the window to lower and I obliged. She bent down and her gaping blouse hinted at wonders I could only envisage in my fantastical daydreams.
In a suitable husky tone she said ” I know what you’ve done for me, both of you. I can never repay you for ending my torment but, as a start, hows about coming with me to Brazil for a sunny break? All the beach football and secret negotiations you can shake a stick at! “
GS and I exchanged a glance. Such was our rapport we oft never needed words. It would seem that we were beach bound. I hope we get some good snaps…….
It was hot. Damn hot. Hot enough to cook eggs on the hood of your Buick. The weather forecasters hadn’t seen the heatwave coming, now the rush for air conditioning systems, icecube trays and Rocket Lollies was incessant and a necessity.
It was also quiet. Off-season had left Gunnersaurus and I with time to kill and cigarettes to smoke but not much else. It would seem there wasn’t much demand for football gumshoes when football wasn’t being played. I should’ve seen this coming. My time in Brazil working under the guise of a pundit had gotten me a good suntan but in terms of evidence, I had more chance of signing Bouldy and Ivan up to be stunt doubles for the Mitchell Bros than lining up Blatter for the Judge’s gavel. I don’t enjoy injustice so leaving the home of Samba with nothing was like a slap to the face.
Feet up at my desk, cigarette smouldering in my hand, I considered the merits of closing the office and taking that canal boat trip in Norfolk Gunnersaurus and I had always batted around but never took the leap. Surely it would be better than just sitting and waiti…..
The door to the office had my name and my esteemed reptilian friends, in that order ( it was always a case for heated exchanges but I always reminded him that if he was the leading name in the company then he would be the one who got to deal with the regular sales calls from the plethora of double glazing companies. That always diffused his riposte to such a degree he just let out a resigned mewl ). At that moment whilst I contemplated a summer break boating in the Norfolk canals with an inebriated dinosaur, the door with our names on the frosted glass swept open with a gust of fresh air and a fright for Gunnersaurus, who was clipping his generously grown claws. He dropped the secateurs with shock and his tail, in one movement, swept the numerous empty coffee receptacles onto the floor with a smash. This only added to the rising sense of drama. The real curtain raiser was the person responsible for such a break in the tranquility.
This broad was made of pure dreams. Her hair was as chestnut as my nicotine-stained lungs. Her lips were made for luring. She was dressed in a pencil skirt that told you her curves were weapons that were holstered. Her crisp white blouse hinted at perfection. The cheeks of her alabaster complexion were flushed, either with using the stairs or a story yet to be told. I guessed at the latter.
" Please, you have to help, this has to stop you see I can’t deal with this anymore I really can’t stand the constant rumours they are leaving me with…"
Gunnersaurus, ever the social expert, had moved close to the mystery dame whilst I sat entranced, my cigarette now just a burning nub housed by my frozen digits. Noticing that she hadn’t taken a pause nor a breath during her flustered outburst, Gunnersaurus slapped her briskly across that flushed red cheek. The silence, in stark contrast to the whirlwind of noise that had accompanied her harried entrance, was deafening.
She cradled her cheek with one immaculately manicured hand. Her eyes looked up at the dealer of the blow, each iris wide and inviting. Her voice wavered but was now at a regular pace. ” Thank you, I needed that “. Gunnersaurus didn’t flinch, he just lifted an empty coffee cup. ” Oh, OK, “. With that she started making the coffee. With this mind-numbing task, the therapeutic nature enabled her to tell her story. It was more enticing than this lady’s looks. You gotta hand it to my green friend. His really is a good reader of situations.
As she prepared our coffee, she recounted her tale. It would seem that her levels of tension and drama were to do with the constant stream of transfer stories that involved our wonderful Club. As a Gooner, she couldn’t visit social network sites, she couldn’t talk to fellow fans, she couldn’t even read a newspaper without being affronted by another story linking us with another player. It was all too much for a lady. Hell, it was too much for me. She came to the only people who could help. She came to us.
Just as she had armed herself with a duster and a canister of Mr Sheen, Gunnersaurus and I exchanged a look. We knew where to start. You start with a guy who knows things, whose nose is regularly rooting in amongst the bottom feeders of sports journalism, but always came up with truffles. I cried ” To the ArsenalMobile!!! “
The Sky Sports News Office. Broads and fellas dressed in powersuits rushed around pretending that the memo or file in their hand mattered a jot. GS and I sauntered to the lift, letting the security know we didn’t need an ID card round our necks, with a single grimace. If they attempted to stop us smoking as well? GS without tobacco isn’t a pretty sight.
The lift, mirrors encasing us, smoothly escorted us vertically to the 19th floor. It was a rapid transit. We stubbed our smokes out on the plush carpet, set the brims of our trilbies at a jaunty angle, and set off to the one office that had answers.
GS had enough strength to do the job but I planted my shining winklepicker flat against the office door with enough force to bust the doorframe and send the former door swinging into an armchair that was behind it. The scene was a habitual one when you were forced to deal with the slime that was in it currently.
Jim White, ‘Mr Transfer Window’, was snorting beak off one of the copious amounts of naked harlots that were stinking out the generous office space. The view was rather breathtaking, but Jim had outgrown such pleasures and his nosebleed was a speech bubble that screamed ” I’m desperate “. Unfortunately patience ran low within both GS and I when the scent of injustice was rife within our nostrils. GS slaps one of the prone hussies and sends her brusquely to make coffee.
No clothes hanging off his rather shameful lower half, Jim however, was pristine in appearance for his top half. Blue shirt with perfect creases, Bright yellow tie that contrasted the navy so well. The only caveat to this was the large and ever-growing bloom of crimson that acted as a spoiler to his look. He had his ‘habit’ to thank for that. Upon seeing me noticing his peculiar wardrobe choices, he slurred ” Och, that’s how ah rolle sun “. He went to amble off to the generously filled whisky decanter but I reached out one of my wiry liimbs and grabbed his well chosen tie. Jim let out a surprised ” Urk! ” in protest and swung round 180 degrees into my already clenched fist. Jim’s problematic nose was a bit more so now as a torrent of hot blood gushed onto his now sodden shirt.
" Feeellllas, c’mone! What do ya want now? Ah don’t know anythin, ah promise! ". This was uttered in a nasal whine that raised the heckles on Gunnersaurus’s tail and my already rising temper toward boiling point. GS let out a guttural growl that rendered Jims already peely-wally complexion a rather paler shade of white.
" Tell me leetle-beet what you know about ze Arsenal bullsheet. Don’t make me let loose ze Dinosaur… ". My hand tightened around the now puce coloured tie currently acting as an ample noose around Jims neck. He angled his head toward GS as I said this and my green friend bared one long incisor. With that Jim let loose the hounds of piss as rivulets of urine flowed down his legs and pooled at his feet.
" OK, OK, ah know a wee bit. Ma sources have told me that, along the foodchain, one o’ the links o’ that chain is Neil Ashton. Dinnae tell him ah told ye though, ma job is at stake, ah’ve got tae protect my sources! " I dropped his tie and with that, Jim crumpled to the floor that was now a unique mixture of his blood and urine. He snivelled worthlessly but he had given us what we need. He was now an empty Ribena carton in the wastebasket of life. He had served his purpose. We walked out of the office just as the clearly drugged Lady of the Night came to where the door used to be, holding two clearly piping hot cups of joe but so smashed out of her box that the newly developing blisters on her hands were of no alarm to her. We snatched the cups out of her lifeless hands and effortlessly lit up a Marlboro. " To the Arsenal Mobile!!! "
The office block that housed the filth-mongerer Ashton reeked of the mundane. A perfect way to throw the unsuspecting off the scent I supposed. No security greeted our arrival, no lamentable glances as we smoked our way through the building. An unassuming pine door with a small name plate indicated that behind this door was the one they call Ashton. No match for my size 10 winklepickers.
The door splintered upon impact. Like a curtain raised for the 1st Act of a gaudy play, the scene that assualted our eyes was nothing short of hideous. Emblazoned upon every square inch of the walls was sigils and images of tottenham hotspur, our mortal enemy. A smorgasbord of chickens sat atop basketballs and the gormless visages of Danny Rose, Adebayor and Dawson made this unassuming workspace a hovel of the destitute. At the head of the room, sat at the desk with a look of interrupted consternation on his annoying face, was Neil Ashton. Dressed entirely in the kit of his beloved spurs, his shorts had been pulled down enough to expose his vile member, to which he had been in the middle of choking whilst, by the looks of the computer monitor which faced him, looking at DVD’s of the last highlight that sickening club had had. A 2-1 victory over Norwich. in 1972. The whole assembly of nauseating factors was enough to blanch the normally strong fortitude of Gunnersaurus, who proceeded to let out a Banshee-type scream which cracked the computer monitor. He then ran straight through the office wall, leaving a Gunnersaurus-shaped aperture. There was no middle ground with GS. Looks like it’s down to me then.
As I walked menacingly toward the now visibly shaking Ashton, his horrid phallus shrunk within itself, leaving but a dimple of flesh. He grabbed whatever was nearest to hand, which was an offensively-sharp looking buttplug. He brandished the anal furniture detrimentally, waving it with an air of intimated violence. I continued my pace towards him despite the threat of being whalloped with a ringpiece toy. I ripped the hoop-filler from his clammy hands, then thrust my forehead into his doughy face. His immediate awareness of where he was vanished. This was a moment where you imagined little tweety-birds circling his dazed head. I shoved him towards the coffee-making facilities and informed him to make me a cup of java. Despite having an avian conga doing the rounds in his brain he brewed up a tasty concoction. I sat him down, with just a little force to remind him of his circumstances. He slumped into the leather chair. His body language gave off a languid style but he knew that my presence meant trouble. His eyes screamed panic. He knew this day would come.
" Before you even breach the subject, I have no idea where the stories are coming from " offered an already surrendering Ashton. He just didn’t know it yet.
" I didn’t mention any stories Neil. Why would you zink I came ‘ere to talk lies wiz you? Eez it because you ‘ave made a ‘andsome living from writing pieces that arre derogatory towards Arsenal? "
I had finished my coffee but I disposed of the porcelain cup in a rather more unconventional manner. My exterior was exuding the calm persona of a master tactician so when I launched the aforementioned mug whizzing past Ashton’s ear, it unsettled the already flinching hack deeply.
" FUCK!!! " He started to look around the room nervously, as if checking for an as yet unseen presence. He hunched over, as if to draw me in to a conversation regarding the most secret of secrets.
" I can’t say much. Just this. The Bridge. ". He whipped his bloody head around to look behind his shoulder, then again zipped his eyes round to the other side, toward to window. He was a marked man now it would seem. Or at least he believed so.
I stood up, informed him to move offices or countries, whichever suits. As I exited the pitiful excuse for a journalist’s office, I pulled out my phone and called GS. As soon as he picked up, a roar that told me he was ready to go met my ears. To the ArsenalMobile indeed!
We drove. We drove for miles. London was full of bridges. To search the entire collection would mean my green friend becoming my grey friend. We stopped for coffee. We sat in comfortable silence, aware of the cogs in each others mind crunching together in an effort to break open this quest for justice. Sporadically a questioning grunt from GS, follwed by a negative shake of my head. Not plausible. Tried that. That doesn’t work. Then, GS stood up, all 7ft of him. Bolt upright, he bowed his knowing head toward me and let his eyes do the talking. OF COURSE!!! Stamford Bridge!
By now the merciless sun was starting to beat a hasty retreat, leaving a temperature more becoming with London. We circled the ramshackle house of our rivals cautiously, not knowing where the threat was secreting itself. Unbeknown to us, which looking back on it now still surprises me as GS and his nose are famous for sniffing out nefarious types at varyingly dizzying distances, an unremarkable car had been following us. It tailed us at a safe distance but never quite let the rope loose enough to let us slip. As we circled the hellhole of bleakness, I pulled up at the filthy mouth of the stadium. Infuriated by our apparent reluctance to enter, I decided that all guns blazing, much like my heroes from the Spaghetti Westerns, would suffice as a tactic.
We left the ArsenalMobile where it was, enabling us to make a hasty retreat if our aggressive approach left us with no Plan B other than to haul ass. We knew that our chances of success were slim and none.
We sauntered up to the main entrance. A receptionist that looked like she had applied her make up with a shotgun didn’t greet us, but handed me a keycard and pointed toward the lift. The silence and the receptionists want to apply tarmac as foundation had lent my normally icy-cool demeanour a rather more sweaty tone. I tried to maintain my cool, if for nothing else than not letting GS know. If he realised I was worried then I was on my own. Another Gunnersaurus-shaped hole in the wall was likely. He liked confidence.
I placed the keycard in the appropriate slit in the wall. The doors of the lift immediately and rather too efficiently opened. Quick and efficient, with the minimum of flair. Much like the team that plays here, I mused to myself. No doubt GS thought the same. No love was lost there.
We entered without regret. The doors once more, seeming to sense our presence, closed with orderliness. Just as GS extended a clawed digit to nominate a floor on the button panel, a blue light appeared behind the button that indicated ‘Basement’. We apparently didn’t have a choice. The lift didn’t hesitate. It rapidly descended into the bowels of this arena, leaving the coffee we had imbibed floating precariously near our own exit.
The metal capsule that had so fast delved deep into the nether regions of our enemies lair sharply and unceremoniously stopped. We shuddered on our unsteady legs but kept upright. Just like Chelski on the pitch, the lift had got from A to B with no extra flair or filigree. Just orderly and quick.
The doors once again opened with a zip. The sight that befell our eyes everything that the dark side of our brain tried to conceal from us, but we would still sneak peeks of the gory sights, like a scrumptious horror. The next view we had was of a metal computer mouse hastily smashing into our temples. It would seem we were in trouble……
To Be Continued……..
This three-legged decorated war hero had one leg lost to surgery after taking four rounds from an AK-47.
Bad. Mother. Fucker.
Those eyes say “Pretend to throw the tennis ball. I dare you to only pretend.”
I think those eyes say a lot more than that. He’s seen more than I ever will, done more than I’ll ever do, and his war will never be over.He’s got Ranger scrolls on his collar. That dog is a god damn hero.
I just noticed the Purple Heart and that Scroll.
Wow. Just wow.
The picture alone, in all it’s detail says a lot of things. god damn.
I can’t not reblog this dog… his you
Eyes say so much
I’ve never seen a dog with such a face like that. Like an old man who went to war and if you ask him about he just stiffens up and face turns to stone.
Layka is a lady dog. Let’s remember that.
Now, it’s an understandable problem - our socialization instantly encourages us to see this rugged, sleek, military animal as a male. Three-legged hero dog with military decorations and stern-appearing eyes? TOTALLY A DUDE DOG, JUST LOOK AT HIM. It’s a programmed response, and nothing to be ashamed of - let’s just be accurate and note that Layka’s a female.
I’ve highlighted all the reblogs above where Layka is described as a hero, an old man, with male pronouns - rather than the fierce, charming heroine she is. It’s kind of a teachable moment: how does an image of an animal, displaying absolutely no secondary sex characteristics, instantly give us these fictional headcanons about its gender and gender performance? It’s an impressive demonstration of our ability to translate body language.
The photographer who took this compelling shot noted that Layka’s playful, bouncy energy made it nearly impossible for him to get a shot with her mouth closed! He ended up having to stop using the tennis ball he was using to get her attention, because it made her too excited and smiley. Based on the photos below, I think she’d have quite a sense of humor about the “where’s the tennis ball?” game!
Of course, the photographer did end up connecting with a fundamental aspect of Layka’s nature in the cover photo; her serious, soldier side. But that’s not all the animal is. Does the dog in the unused shots still resemble an “old man?” Is the dog in the unused shots male or female? Is it still a hero with its tongue out? Is it still admirable without a “face like stone?”
This is what I mean when I say that we have to examine the lenses of culture and society that we are always, always looking through when we talk about science biology.
Wow. Those fucking eyes. This dog is a role model.