One of the things I love most in the world is my music collection, and there are some curiosities in there as anyone who ever had to listen to my varied tastes will confirm. One of my particular choices baffles most people, who don’t hear any redeeming merit whatsoever in the band. They are called The Magnetic Fields.
One of my favourite tunes from the band forms the title of this piece, or the second part of it anyway.
The lyrics, like all those Steve Merritt writes, are wickedly funny. That particular song, You Must Be Out Of Your Mind, is about someone who wants to turn the clock back and be forgiven for a transgression, whereas the narrator isn’t interested.
“You think you can leave the past behind? You must be out of your mind. You think you can simply press rewind? You must be out of your mind,” goes the chorus and I get the sentiment. I appreciate, and even admire, the sentiment because of its honesty and its failure to compromise or pretend things could go another way. Some things, you can’t forgive or forget. Some things are consensus busters and deal breakers.
Once they happen, there’s no point in trying to put things right because they never will be again.
This, of course, is about Brendan Rodgers and his interview with the press today which the media is spinning as his attempt to build bridges between our fans and those of a certain other club, and at the risk of spoiling the honeymoon I’m about as interested in that idea as the narrator is in getting back together with his ex.
Harsh? I prefer to think of it as brutal truth, and I will take that over lies any day of the week.
I think most of us would.
When Brendan is finished here, perhaps he intends to go and try his hand at Hapoel Tel Aviv, and solve the Israel-Palestine issue whilst he’s there. Seriously. Forget football management, travel the world as a peacemaker and sort all its problems out.
Or, and this is just a suggestion, maybe he should leave that stuff to other people and stick to the day job.
That’s what I recommend.
The only legacy that counts is the one he earns out on the pitch, and the development of our club.
Nothing else matters to us.
I got annoyed reading that stuff this morning, in part because of the exaggeration in it, which the media is more than happy to amplify for their own reasons. I’ll get to them in a minute. But for now, I want to tell you that I reject, utterly, any notion of Scotland as being a place where hatred courses through the population.
There are haters out there. They do not merit this attention or some big “hands across the divide” response.
Those people are beyond reach.
The utopia, where Celtic and Sevco fans live together in harmony and get on with one another … well, Hell, you know, I actually thought that was the country I was living in already, and had been for … well, since I was born actually.
I don’t think comparing Scotland to the North of Ireland during the Troubles is accurate or particularly helpful either.
There are things I get sick writing, and one of them is about just how much hatred there is out there.
I wrote the following paragraphs in January 2015, and I can’t believe I still need to repeat this stuff, over and over again:
“The extent of that hate is largely a myth. In fact, it’s a downright lie. I know all about “the enemy”, from living here, at close quarters with them.
I have worked with the enemy. I have drank with the enemy. I have family members on the enemy side. I have dated, and even fallen in love with, the enemy. I have spent many good nights in their company and consider any number of them good friends.
Two years ago, my family held the wake for my granddad Shug – himself one of the enemy – in one of the most notorious bars of the enemy in all of Glasgow. Inside that bar, his glass is still up on a wee ledge beside the whiskey, and there’s a chair not far from it which carries a plaque with my gran’s name on it, the place where the two of them would sit and drink every weekend. There, surrounded by some of the hardest guys in the city – all of them on the enemy side – she would slag off everyone within earshot about how “you’ll never beat the Lisbon Lions.”
She died on Christmas Day, eight years ago. The pub emptied for the day of her funeral, so they could all turn up. One of the regulars helped me and my old man carry the coffin. Yes, I know all about the enemy, at close quarters.”
And that’s not an original story; that’s just the city I live in.
Don’t get me wrong – and before the hysterics start to wail because I don’t agree with every word that comes out of the manager’s mouth – I understand exactly what Brendan was actually saying. He’s a Good Man, and his comments come from a place of decency and respect for others.
If we did actually live in a sectarian cesspit then I would lend great weight to his words and his effort at draining the poison somewhat, but in fact it’s less intense but more complicated than that and it brings me back to the old horror.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out how these comments will be spun.
I hear the echo of “Old Firm” in them.
Once again, for the record; I think I can speak for the vast majority of our supporters when I say that I want nothing whatsoever to do with any “rivalry” with that club, in any form whatsoever. The day my club starts to promote it I’m done with them.
No partnerships, no community initiatives, no commercial deals, no alliances of convenience. We stand or fall on our merits, we make our own way in the world and we treat them as we would any other club, only with a more careful eye on what they get up to, especially whilst this board is in place.
I don’t care who promotes the view that we should climb into bed with them.
I cannot accentuate that point enough.
The idea holds no interest, or value, whatsoever. If Brendan Rodgers brings the European Cup to Glasgow and the following day makes this suggestion I’ll dismiss it as I do now, only probably in harsher language for having had to do it twice.
No-one will convince me to embrace the Old Firm tag.
No-one will convince me to kiss and make up.
As The Dixie Chicks say in another cracking song, I’m not ready to make nice. Too much water has passed under the bridge and forgiving and forgetting presupposes that people are sorry, that mistakes and past behaviour has been acknowledged and apologised for and none of it has. The bigotry, the cheating, the odium that still pours out of sections of their stands, the photo-shoots with Loyalist bands, the Britishness days, the embrace of militarism … when there’s been atonement for misdeeds and a change in other areas we’ll see where we’re at … and only then provided they ditch the Survival Lie and we come to some agreement on what happened in 2012.
Hey, I’m all for reconciliation … but that would involve communicating with the dead in this case. As I said to one idiotic Herald writer the other day, what he’s talking about isn’t survival at all, it’s resurrection and that still qualifies as a miracle, doesn’t it?
The media’s reaction to this is obvious.
Woe betide our club if this an effort to soften us up. If Celtic thinks it can push Brendan out in front of us and ask us to get past certain things, they better think again.
The club is going to have to make a very clear-cut choice about their own response when the moment comes.
Fence sitting isn’t going to cut it this time. We’re not going to have another Resolution 12 where the matter is left to the fans whilst the board does damn all. If a court declares EBT’s to be illegal that’s the ball up in the air and Peter Lawwell better be ready to grab it when it comes down.
Bottom line; I don’t accept that we live in a place riven by hate, but there are people in it who do live in the gutter and I don’t particularly want to “come together” with those who want to be up to their knees in my blood. Save that stuff for songs around the campfire.
I have no interest in seeing our club get involved in promoting a rivalry most of us loathed before it was consigned to the grave.
I have no interest in founding a new one with a NewCo born amidst the promotion of hate, the by-product of a fraud, which embraces sectarianism and division and which hasn’t had a single board in its five year history on which there wasn’t at least one crook.
The press loves all this, because it tees them up for the coming debates over title stripping and the other issues that we need to get sorted.
“Even your own manager wants to move on,” will be the cry.
And you know what I say to that? One day he will, he’ll go to another club, because that’s what managers do. That stuff is temporary.
What’s in the record books, what’s in the history, that’ll stay permanent unless we get it corrected.
Nobody is “moving on” whilst the “official record” remains a pack of lies.