So yesterday was a quietish day; two walks with the little fellah whilst Elliott, unusually, had an afternoon nap. This gave me chance to watch Man United take on Celta Vigo in the semi-final of the EUFA cup, a fixture manager Jose Mourinho described in his pre-match comments as the most important in the club’s history. Well only since he’s been there to be more accurate.
Anyway ManU had a 1-0 advantage from the away first leg and were further ahead mid-way with a goal from our most intelligent, graceful and cultured midfielder Fellaini. Surely with home advantage that should be game over. For any other side that would be true but ManU have a history of doing things not the simple way. There’s always a drama. That’s why Mourinho suits – he’s the ultimate drama queen.
And so with ten minutes to go the substitutions began as we gave up the game plan which had worked fine to that point and went all defensive. Well it worked ok for about 10 seconds until Celta scored a deserved goal. Then tempers flared and in a late melee we had our best defender sent off along with a Celta player. It took ages for the ref to get play re-started and with only minutes left of regular time, the assistant held up his board to declare that there would be 6 minutes of extra time to be played. Ouch.
Now the problem for United had suddenly become that if Celta scored again – they would go through to the final on the away goals rule. So it all got a bit frantic. The minutes went by and United were holding out. Down to the last minute – surely we’d be safe now. And then a very late attack down the right from Celta. Oh lawd. The ball gets passed into the middle where their main striker (an ex Man City player) is unmarked. All the fates were lined up; he had to score. But the good Lord, who is clearly a Reds fan, must have been looking down and he made the guy swivel and completely fluff his shot. OMG phew. Final whistle. United win hurrah!! Huge relief all round, not least from Mourinho, who had just had his job saved by divine intervention.
Now that’s doing things the ManU way. Redemption at the last second. Nerve jangling.
Well what has this to do with living in NYC? Not a lot.This city is very dramatic in its own way but you’d expect me to come up with a more interesting link than that. You see as the match finished I checked into my FB account to catch up on news and there was this posting from my old university. Don’t ask me why I get postings from them, especially since they are always rubbish and never worth reading. Until I received this one yesterday…
It’s not terribly interesting I can hear you scream. You’d be right too. But this was the first time I’d been reminded of the subject of Agricultural Economics since I’d left Aberystwyth university back in ’75. You see I went there to study Economics and had to elect 5 other supporting subjects to study in the first year. I picked some modern history and politics courses and was having trouble fitting a final subject into my schedule. The only one that was relevant to my main subject and could be accommodated time-wise was Agricultural Economics. Whatever that was.
So anyway off I toddled for my introductory lecture which was led by a woman dressed in ill-fitting cords, lumberjack shirt, trail boots and cropped hair. Umm. She had a voice gruffer than Lee Marvin’s. You could tell she wasn’t a hairdresser. I was intrigued by her and didn’t notice much of what she was rambling on about – it was all admin type stuff. Then the fire alarm bell sounded off. It wasn’t a drill so we headed out to the evacuation area and the lecture was abandoned for the day.
The following week I went to the same place for the lecture only to find nobody there. Unbeknown to me the lectures had been moved to a different venue because of the small fire damage to the building. I mooched around only to find the new venue just as everyone was piling out.
The third week’s lecture was cancelled because butch Betty was ill. I had to miss week 4’s lecture because of a field trip on another course. The rain the following week was absolutely pouring down. We lived in the bottom of the town and the campus was high on the hill behind the town. It was a good 30 minute walk to this lecture facility and I didn’t fancy getting soaked and sitting wet through through Betty’s talk. Come on, we were students after all.
Week 6 was a problem for me because by this stage I was playing football for one of the university teams and we had an away fixture at Bangor uni necessitating an early coach trip.
By week 7 I had absolutely no notes nor concept of just where the course was at and I was beginning to think that Agricultural Economics and I weren’t meant to be. So I figured that the best thing to do was to hook up with somebody on the course and copy their notes etc and catch up once I was up to speed. The trouble was I never met anyone who admitted to being on the course. As the weeks turned into months I just sort of forgot about the course and let’s face it nobody from the Department seemed bothered about chasing me up either. So we sort of left each other alone in a state of mutual indifference.
This was fine until it came to the first year exams and it was made clear that achieving at least a pass in all subjects would be essential to being invited to stay on for the second and 3rd years. Oh lawd. It wasn’t like I could spoof the exam through my wider knowledge. Agric Econ was as alien to me as Mandarin. To compound things Carol and I were engaged to be married during the summer break. I had to pass this bloody exam to ensure I didn’t begin married life as a failed student.
Always the bloody drama eh. It’s just like watching ManU. Maybe that’s why I continue to be attracted to them. To resolve things I went up to the Department to meet the Deputy Principal, figuring that the Head of the Faculty would be a miserable unsympathetic bugger. I don’t know if he/she actually was but the deputy just seemed like a really decent guy who was absolutely chuffed that someone had made an appointment to consult with him. I got the impression it didn’t happen very often.
I introduced myself and he said Leonard, Paul Leonard that rings a bell. Then he flicked though his file and looked up to say Mr Leonard we’ve been expecting to see you since last September and famously you haven’t made one lecture. I told him that wasn’t exactly accurate because the one I did make with butch Betty had to be abandoned after 10 minutes because of the fire. Still 10 minutes wasn’t much of an appearance record over a whole year Mr Leonard. True I replied but I explained the problems over the first 7 weeks and said it was like a fate thing. He just smiled and asked how he could help given that the end of year exam was in two days time. I thought nothing ventured nothing gained and asked if he could recommend a book or something I could read to help me pass the exam, given that my impending marriage probably depended on it. He gave me that Cool Hand Luke smile again and said I had some front but I think he liked my hywel as the Welsh say. Then he pulled a green book out of his drawer said if I read the first 6 chapters I might just have a crack at the exam.
There you go.
If you’re interested in the outcome, those first 6 chapters contained the answers to 4 of the questions on the exam paper. Would you Adan and Eve it! From memory I was in the top 5 students that year in the Agric Econ exam. Not that I’m boasting because it’s not really the way to do university kids. But without a little drama in your life you end, well, supporting Arsenal.
There’s a little postscript to this football/drama-based tale. My eldest grandson, fabulous Sammy, signed a contract overnight to join Luton Town Academy. He has worked incredibly hard and played beautifully to get this far into a professional career. He’s still a couple of years off becoming the next Rio Ferdinand at ManU but we are so so pleased and proud of him. Good luck sunshine
Back to NYC later.
Flukey Bloody Paul