Sunday 16th May 2004

‘God Is A Gooner’ read one of banners at Highbury yesterday afternoon as Arsenal went into the history books by going the full Premiership season unbeaten. There has already been the discussion of whether this team deserves the title of greatness. I am not going to give an unbiased opinion here, but let me add something that has been missed from the debate so far. If you go back to 1996, and early in that season, which saw Arsene Wenger’s arrival you must have seen. Seen the transformation that has taken place, of taking the team described for decades as being, “boring boring Arsenal”, to a squad of players, playing silky one touch football with interplay unrivaled by any other. High paced counter attacking football played with a telepathy between the players, which makes them conscious of each other’s positions. Breath taking, truly breath taking. They have just been amazing to watch over the past eight years. This title is the end product of all those years of hard work that the backroom staff have put in. My only regret is, that yet again, I have not been able to witness this historical triumph. Two years ago, I was also in the midst of the exam period, and my thoughts were more on the forthcoming World Cup. I continue to promise myself that one day, I will go to an FA Cup final to watch Arsenal, or at least manage a league or cup game. So far I have only managed to see Arsenal twice. A Premiership game game against Derby County back in 1997 and an FA Cup match against the minnows in 1999. Rather pathetic for someone who calls themselves a Gooner.

With South Africa being awarded the World Cup in 2010, I was imagining how important it would be for me to go. To see a continent I have yet to experience, a culture that has yet to touch my soul. But my dreams are closer, in terms of time and place. My dream is to see England beat Germany in the World Cup final, in two years time. A dream? Perhaps but I am going to do my best to make sure I am there. Particularly if the concept of each continent hosting the tournament once, before it moves onto another continent kicks in.

I have been offered on more than once occasion, a bootleg copy of the final Friends episode. When I decline this offer, there is a pause of uncertainty. I will freely admit I am not a fan of the show. I would even go to the lengths to say that I have not seen a single episode. Shocking to many perhaps. Not to me. I would also state the fact that I avoid such mainstream programming. I do not know why. There was a time, that I would say to people that I watch Friends, purely on the basis that other people watch it. Of course, that was never the case and I never see myself watching a program purely based on this fact. However, having said that, there is a long list of programs that I have not seen at all. They are all popular shows, particularly with people in my age group. Now I have to go back and purchase the DVD’s and force the habit of regular viewing upon myself. I feel some regret that I never watched a single episode of 24, particularly when I had amble opportunity to catch the series. Now on it’s third series, I have some serious catching up to do. There are other shows to, such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Perhaps not the best example, but a friend of mine at college was a fanatical fan of the series. Not exactly sure why, but again, whom am I to criticise when I have not seen a single episode. More recently Channel 4 has started airing, The OC. Again a show, I know if I got into, I would enjoy. However, the fact that it is on around 6.30pm on a Sunday does make it awkward viewing for me personally. I have been trying to work out why I have been unable to keep up with the viewing habits of my peers. When a new show starts, there is a fear. A fear that you may miss an episode. This then has a domino affect on the viewing of subsequent episodes. There are people out there, who have this uncanny ability. They can sit down, twelve minutes into a soap and pick up all the stories lines, all the trivia and hidden secrets.

For me, it is not and never has been this simple. I have to watch a program from the beginning and emerge myself in the experience. This will be somewhat explained in the following. Do you remember the animated cartoon series, with a band of young adventurers? Back in 1982, Mysterious Cities Of Gold aired on BBC One. I caught one of the repeated airings early in my childhood. The only cartoon series to remain transfixed in my memory for the rest of the life. This was an adventure, which my sisters and I enjoyed watching, every single installment bringing with it excitement, joy and sorrow. For many years I tried to find out more about the series, but to no prevail. Before I came back to Uni for my final year, I searched a few websites and re-lived my childhood. Happy to discover that other children had grown up with the cartoon and now too, were in their twenties. My housemate Paul had obtained a handful of episodes, via some of his worldwide online contacts. However his collection was incomplete and the quality on some of the files, patchy. A DVD was not available at this, so I took the step and ordered a VCD version. Not ideal, but better than nothing and until I could obtain an English language DVD, this would be more than satisfactory. The collection arrived for me before Christmas, 2003. I was pleased, but I didn’t watch a single episode. My patience could hold for slightly longer. For my housemate, was the complete opposite. He needed his fix. I went home for the weekend after my last exam on Friday 23rd January 2004 and left my MCoG pack with my trusted housemate. He then went on to deprive himself of sleep for the next 30 odd hours to watch marathon style. Wow! Nav called the entire event a wonderful experience and he was glad he had decided to watch the adventure in it’s entirety non-stop. I am at the other extreme of this strange view. I am not going to watch a single episode, until I secure a full time job. Then, once I have a job, the show will be shown every Wednesday evening at 6.30pm. It will take me 39 weeks to watch the entire series, so if I start on Wednesday 8th September 2004, the final episode will be shown on 1st June 2005. What my dear friend Naveen, needs to learn is that good things come to those who wait. Why rush the memories of your childhood?

Those that know me well, know that there is only one television show that I never miss. Eastenders has always been a personal favourite. Although when I first started University, back in September 2000, there were a few months when I had to go without my weekly dosage. I then successfully converted several of my friends to watch the show too. They still watch it now, almost four years on. The other show which I watch, tends to be much more on an ad lib basis. Mainly due to the fact Channel 4, schedule Hollyoaks at an awkward time so early in the evening. Also it has lost some of the magic it had when it first started, back in 1995 would you believe? So ten years already clocked up and it has survived to battle Brookside. That must be some achievement.

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