Hope, that’s the last thing I need right now. While my life increasingly resembles a mash-up of the plots of any number of soap operas – East Enders, Holby City, The Next Step – there would be some solace in knowing that we all, inevitably, go a bit Phil Mitchell in the end. (Or maybe the full Danny Dyer? Speaking of Danny Dyer, here is a video of Danny Dyer’s reflective haikus: trust me, it’s worth 90 seconds of your life.)
It’s hope of escape from oblivion that is making my football team’s – Leyton Orient – current travails compelling to follow but also, in turns, excruciating. The O’s, London’s second oldest club, are currently second to bottom of the entire English football league. And there are several reasons for this. First, for many years, we unsuccessfully deployed the surprise tactic of playing a long ball game with a 5’2″ centre forward. Opposing teams found this surprising but, ultimately, eminently assailable. Second, there has been managerial turnover that would make even Sports Direct seem like an employer invested in its workforce; nine managers in the last two seasons. And third, the club now faces a winding up petition from HMRC. The person perceived to be most responsible for this financial position is the club’s owner Francesco Becchetti, an Italian who had made his fortune in the Albanian waste management and recycling industry. Don’t roll your eyes, Albanians need their waste managed and recycled too, you know.
Albanian waste management… and LOFT (The Leyton Orient Fans Trust)
The hope in question came in the form of Orient’s 4-0 away win yesterday. Yes, 4-0 and away as well. And that comes on the back of a 3-2 away win, a couple of weeks ago, at “highflying” Plymouth. Highflying and Plymouth are words that are rarely seen together although I have nothing against Plymouth and, in fact, spent a very interesting evening at the Barbican there several years ago before just catching the overnight train back to London. I like overnight trains, there is something romantic about them.
Anyway, enough! Let’s get back from the (south) west to the Orient. A win was much needed and Orient seem to like going west because yesterday’s success was at Newport County. What takes the edge off that victory, however, is that Newport County is the only team below Orient in the football league and so, technically, the only team worse than them. The O’s still need to win at places like Hartlepool – 70% Brexit country, where they hung a monkey in the 19th century because they thought it was a French spy – if they have any hope of avoiding the ignominy of the Vanarama league next season. Here’s hoping that they do.
I have it on very good authority that with the arrival of Iain Duncan Smith in 2010 at the Department for Work & Pensions a message was hung in the entrance foyer reading, “Purpose is Better than Hope”. Doesn’t that just say it all about Tory attitudes (and Lib Dem, never forget that) on welfare reform… the pesky, work-shy proletariat? My son, I am sure being ironic, has written this in large letters on the whiteboard in our kitchen. (Yes, we have a whiteboard in the kitchen. It’s a military operation in there). And of course he is being ironic and is correct that it is an hollow precept because purpose is utterly useless without hope, just as hope is utterly futile without purpose. Purpose without hope is, by definition, pointless. The two are intimately interdependent.
But at least with hope alone you have that; you can begin to think about starting; you can generate purpose. I am not sure whether East Ender’s Phil Mitchell has great purpose to his life – the scriptwriters have not been kind enough to bestow on actor Steve McFadden a character on the sweeping scale that, say, Ibsen or Dostoyevsky gave to their protagonists. If he does have purpose, from what I can remember (I don’t watch East Enders any more), it’s probably something to do with “fam-lee” or people not showing enough “respek”. Leyton Orient’s pressing purpose is to ensure survival by getting the round object into the netty thing where the other team’s goalie stands more often then it goes into the netty thing where their goalie is standing. Oh, and to find around £500k to repay tax to HMRC. But Phil, Orient, and all of us have hope. So, for an upbeat ending, click on the ant!