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04 Hat-Trick

GustRB on June 21, 2013 21:28

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    4: Hat-trick

    Dead referees wait in the rain by Holloway Road underground. Romance is drained away, only its dirty tideline left behind. A frail Victorian cravat dropped in the twentieth century muds and swiftly trampled under. Its optic phantoms exorcised, Highbury runs on tabloid time. If it’s not in the papers then it isn’t there. Celebrities, sex, football, murder… and the crowd goes wild. In 1919 Arsenal boss Sir Henry Norris, an Edwardian Robert Maxwell, bribes his way into the first division, waves aside the roars of protest. 1925, the FA Cup with Arsenal drawn against West Ham in the first round, their manager is desperate, can already hear the West Ham balls hitting the net. A Harley Street physician offers a solution. What the boys require is something in the nature of a courage pill. They do no harm, and merely tone the nerves. The tablets, being neither toxic nor illegal, the team necks them just before the game, unfortunately cancelled due to fog. The disappointment of the players is palpable. Eleven men with dreadful haircuts and amphetamine psychosis, bloody murder getting them back on the bus. Like trying to drive a flock of lively lions, says their manager. Then there’s the disco thirst, gulping back too much water. Same thing happens at the replay. Courage pills are taken, fog descends, the match is cancelled. Finally they get a game. They’re too loved up to score, too paranoid to pass. They scrap the pills, their role as clubland pioneers; baggy shorts, whistles, kicking it large. Bad electricity, sour sweat, leaning back in the showers, letting it all just sluice away. And two years earlier in 1923, just down Pentonville Road, they’re carrying Edith Thompson, heavily sedated, from her cell into the special hidden room beyond. The thick rope gently links its fingers there behind her neck, just like a partner in a waltz. Holloway prison, the old building a converted castle from a sado-masochistic fairytale. Oscar Wilde’s here, awaiting bail, with Lord and Lady Mosley. Suffragettes dragged in and force-fed by the truckload. Ruthie Ellis kicks her shoes off, dancing with a stranger. 1967, here at Highbury Corner is the Tempo Club. Eastend lad runs it, Freddie Bird. Dorothy Squires in residence when in comes Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie. Dorothy’s drunk, her husband Roger Moore sits by the dressing rooms, disowns her. Jack shouts ‘What’s he like in bed, the old sucker?’, drops his pants, the place erupts. The twins feel bad, an entertainer of that calibre. The Hat’s already on a warning. Ron and Reg have Tony Lambrianou ferry Jack around to Blonde Carol’s for a quiet word. When it’s all done, Tone scrapes Jack’s liver up onto a shovel, throws it on the fire. Jack the Hat’s buried out at Greenwich. Underneath the dome he dreams a new millennium. And in 1842 a bricklayer from Clerkenwell named Thomas Cooper run afoul of the same frazzled energy, looses it big time in a public place. He shoots dead two policemen, wounds a baker. Run to ground with both guns blazing near the Highbury Barn, a cul de sac, an open sewer section of the Hackney Brook known as the Black Ditch, Cooper stands knee deep in rusty water, fumbling. They bring him down while he’s attempting to reload. It’s all concluded here. The social venoms bled into the Black Ditch, scabbed to future harms. There’s no way out except for up. Implacable, the mortal fumes close in.

    Released by: RE
    Release/catalogue number: PCD03
    Release date: Jul 31, 2000

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