I love Nick Hornby’s books. I’ve read four of them and loved them all dearly. And I don’t mind football. I mean, I’ll watch it and enjoy it and I semi-grasp what’s going on, but I’m not crazy about it. So I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do.
I have come to the conclusion that I understand Nick Hornby completely. In his novel, he incredibly honest. He talks about how quickly his mind jumps to football – within the first 15mins of waking up he is already thinking about it.
“What are you thinking about?” she asks. At this point I lie. I wasn’t thinking about Martin Amis or Gerard Depardieu or the Labour Party at all. But then, obsessives have no choice; they have to lie on occasions like this. If we told the truth every time, then we would be unable to maintain relationships with anyone from the real world. We would be left to rot with our Arsenal programmes or our collection of original blue-label Stax records or our King Charles spaniels, and our two-minute daydreams would become longer and longer and longer until we lost our jobs and stopped bathing and shaving and eating, and we would lie on the floor in our own filth rewinding the video again and again in an attempt to memorize by heart the whole of the commentary, including David Pleat ‘s expert analysis, for the night of 26th of May 1989. (You think I had to look the date up? Ha!) The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron.”
I understand this. Not about football, but about music. It is my obsession. Wherever I go I always pay careful attention to what is playing and what i know about the artist. I read blogs, magazines, follow people on twitter and listen to jjj. I listen to my iPod whenever I travel on public transport, when I walk anywhere, when I study, before I go to bed. I have the radio on jjj at work. The majority of my money is spent on CDs and gig tickets. I CRIED when I heard that Franz Ferdinand were coming to Melbourne. I get giggly when I imagine The White Stripes announcing a tour. The idea of missing out on Radiohead tickets makes me incredibly nervous and panicky. And they are not even touring Australia any time soon. This is made up panic.
Nick also describes the agony of a Grand Final. He does not enjoy it. He feels completely nauseous at the prospect of it. This I understand also. I get incredibly anxious about listening to a new album of a band I love. When I was collecting my Radiohead albums, it took me so long to listen to my new ones because I was terrified that they wouldn’t be good and it would ruin my love for them. That was ridiculous of course, Radiohead are brilliant, but there are a few cases where I have been sorely disappointed. One of these cases was Arctic Monkeys most recent album, Humbug. Before this, I loved them. I knew all the words, I had dug through the internet to find demo tracks and B-sides and live recordings. I read magazine articles about them. I checked their website everyday. The routine was facebook, email, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, The White Stripes, jjj music news etc. But Humbug was a tad disappointing. They went in a little different direction and it just wasn’t as good. I still own the album. But every time I hear ‘Crying Lightening’ it ironically makes me a little sad.
The ridiculous thing is that if they released a new album, I’d still buy it. Even if I didn’t like it I’d still buy it. It’s Arctic Monkeys. I am remaining fiercely loyal to them.
Nick also talks about his wanting to know everything about his team Arsenal and how strongly he dislikes it when someone tells him something he didn’t know. Like Nick, I feel incredibly annoyed when someone tells me about a band that is touring or a new album. I take great pleasure in telling people about these things and any other sort of news attached to a band. in fact last night at book club last night, I explained this and about 10 mins later I exclaimed, “Did you know that Ben Folds and Nick Hornby are collaborating? Nick’s writing the lyrics and Ben’s writing the music!” I realised that I had been holding onto this information for sometime, just waiting to tell everyone. I amuse myself.
“As I get older, the tyranny that football exerts over my life, and therefore over the lives of people around me, is less reasonable and less attractive. Family and friends know, after long years of wearying experience, that the fixture list always has the last word in any arrangement; they understand, or at least accept, that christenings or weddings or any gatherings, which in other families would take unquestioned precedence, can only be plotted after consultation. So football is regarded as a given disability that has to be worked around. If I were wheelchair-bound, nobody close to me would organise anything in a top-floor flat, so why would they plan anything for a winter Saturday afternoon.”
What will happen when Radiohead tour and a friend is getting married on the same day? I don’t know. And I don’t want to think about that until it happens. It’s making me nervous just thinking about it.
I know this obsession is a little unhealthy. But I don’t know. I love it. I love how it can make a bad day a good day. I love the little bit of secret happiness I get when I look at my upcoming gig tickets. I love that whenever I listen to Black Francis, it sounds like everything inside of him is coming out vocally. I love that whenever I feel sad, Thom Yorke will always be there to be sad with me. Music is excellent.