Yours truly is sitting on the bed in casa Strachan’s spare room as I commence this monologue. My current domain, the smallest of the three upstairs chambers gracing my humble abode, which doubles as a man cave and occasional panic room.
Its use as a panic room ordinarily manifests from a need to hide after forgetting to record cable TV shows for my wife. Either that or from incurring her wrath after eating all the ‘good’ biscuits, leaving her with only digestives or malted milk cookies. Her complaint in those circumstances of “You always leave me the ‘rubbish’ biscuits, Gary!” puzzles me. After all, it’s a conundrum very easily resolved by just not buying rubbish biscuits!…… Or am I looking at that too simplistically?!
My current locale could, I suppose, be counted among the clichéd sanctuaries oft embraced by fellas of my middle-aged vintage. These spaces sought when, generally in our 40’s, our Y chromosome develops an urge to evade the spousal monitoring we’d previously lived with, but now deem overly invasive.
Hidius From Missius, or man caves or they are more commonly known, allow guys the quiet and environment to embark on self-indulgent pastimes, or chase lifelong aspirations. Projects like building a space-shuttle from egg boxes, constructing bird boxes from spare wood, or merely using the otherwise unused family telescope to spy on Julie Chutney at number 109 on Gregstone Lane…….. And yes, the authorities are aware of it and will be in touch shortly, Bert Cladback!!
Unlike today, ordinarily when in residence of this den I rarely put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard – The bedroom’s lack of desk rendering it less than ideal for indulging in a spot of creative writing. My usual motive for entering either to seek a period of contemplation during troubled times, retrieving clothing from wardrobes, or to unceremoniously throw washing into the laundry basket.
During the times of reflection, I oft acquiesce to memories of youth evoked so vividly by the sporting memorabilia residing upon and almost completely enveloping these four magnolia coloured walls and drawer units.
Amongst these trinkets football pennants and signed photos rekindling the childhood joy bestowed by the then imperious Leeds United football club. Also present the gongs from my own much less spectacular, yet still pleasingly evocative, sporting achievements in the 1970s/80s.
Additionally incorporated within my sentimental haul, collected over many decades, are a bunch of caps and scarfs of my lifelong sporting loves. Along with further memorabilia paying homage to Leeds United’s FA Cup win in 1972 and England cricket team’s 1981 Ashes win.
The latter achievement orchestrated by one Ian Terence Botham of Somerset county. The belligerent all-rounder whose heroics with willow and ball during the series’ final four Test matches pivotal in sending Kim Hughes’ Aussie team home without the urn.
Heroics ironically undertaken directly after being robbed of the team captaincy due to poor form personally and team-wise. The Wirral-born cricketer’s response of 100’s at Headingley and Old Trafford, along with 5-wicket hauls at Edgbaston and The Oval Tests a metaphorical two finger salute aimed at the hierarchy of English cricket. The irascible, straight-talking Botham and the stuffed shirts from cricket HQ (Lords) never the most comfortable of bedfellows.
As I bring this narrative to a close, I’m looking up at sportsman from different eras that at some juncture on this life odyssey bestowed periods of sheer and utter joy.
Amongst them the great Leeds United team managed by Don Revie whose names still slip off my tongue nearly half a century later. From numbers 1 to 11:- Harvey, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles and Eddie Gray.
Footballers who, along with the likes of Madeley, Bates, Cherry, McQueen, Jordan, Sprake and Frank Gray, ensured my Saturday tea-times in the early to mid 1970’s were generally enjoyed in high spirits.
The warriors in white’s victories perfect aperitifs to an evening whose main course menu included The Generation Game, Two Ronnies, Morecambe & Wise, Mike Yarwood, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak and Ironside.
The dessert if still hungry, and more importantly I was allowed to stay up that late, Match of The Day which invariably broadcast video recordings of events that started those utopian Saturday evenings…… Ah, memories!!