Marylebone Barber Shop.
January 16th, 2009.
Sadly, my barber friend is feeling the pinch. A few weeks ago my usual opener ‘how’s your week been?’ was met with a tentative ‘not great, but can’t complain.’ Now when I give him my usual opener the response is a touch more frank: ‘bloody awful.’ Haircuts, it would seem, are not recession-proof.
Football clubs aren’t either, according to Arsene Wenger. Except Manchester City, that is. But Manchester City aren’t really a football club anymore, are they? They’re a football club in name only. What they are is a bizarre mass of money and talk, making bewildering noises that football purists can’t believe, but which the money-men can’t get enough of unsurprisingly.
So my barber friend is justifiably pissed off that when he makes 500 quid a week doing something useful for society – short-back-and-sides keeps crime down, true story – footballing no-hoper Kaka gets 500,000 quid a week to kick a ball around and reveal that he ‘belongs to Jesus’ all the time. That is, of course, if City get their way.
‘This is the end of football…’ he sighed, trailing off under the drone of the clippers. ‘Kaka…Man City…this sucks.’
And there you have it. Is it just me, or has my barber friend quite perfectly summed up the ridiculousness of this entire saga? Our footballers, and our teams, are supposed to be our heros: we revel in the joy they bring us in tough times, in the moments they make us forget that the world outside the stadium is relatively crap, and in the fact that they fight for the club we believe in so desperately. Now they can crash a £200,000 Ferrari and not really worry about it, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to find common ground with our heroes. When you can’t find common ground with your heroes, you start to forget why they were so heroic to you in the first place.
At this point I fell into a ponderous silence, afraid to say anything positive about football lest it be misconstrued as a defence of the indefensible.
Then my barber friend said ‘I can’t look at the football pages anymore.’ He paused. ‘Page 3 is the only thing that makes me feel better.’
And then I felt a flood of relief. Thank goodness, I thought, at least the recession can’t make us hate everything that’s good in the world.