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Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Pas De Deux Milles

Hey folks

With everything so quiet on the Arsenal front, discussion on the Arsenal Mailing List turned to the good old fashioned 2-3-5 formation of yesteryear, back in the days when players wore 1 to 11 and the shirts on their back indicated exactly where they played on the park. Someone (considerably older than myself, I might add!) was drawing comparisons between Alexandre Hleb and George Eastham

I only have genuine memories of watchng the likes of Geordie and Terry Neill from the team of Eastham's era, as they were still around when I was first taken to THOF in the late 60s. I know I saw Ian Ure play a few times, but in truth my memories of the big blonde centre back are probably more associated with his distinctive photo in my collection of Soccer Star stickers (I imagine pictures of Ure were amongst my huge bundle of "swaps", as one of the many players whose appearance in ones pack would ellicit derisive moans of "not him again" when searching for that elusive photo to make up a full team).

I'm aware that Ure's poor performance was largely deemed responsible for our embarrassing Cup Final defeat to lowly Swindon but in truth my childhood memories of this traumatic experience are related to our 'drawing a day', grey exercise books from school, where aged only seven, I was already a revisionist historian, having spent all of a Monday colouring the faces of a Wembley crowd watching a triumphant Arsenal victory.

I also recall that back in the day when we had a few quid and we were privileged to travel on the Exec trips to European matches, there was this old boy who, when he discovered that I worked for the ballet, began telling us how he'd grown up in Finsbury Park with the founder of our company Dame Alicia Markova. Apparently, prior to adopting the airs and graces of a high society ballet dancer, she had the far more mundane moniker of Alice Marks. It seems that when the old boy invited his old flame to a footie match, having watched the Arsenal play, unbelievably she suggested that of all the athletes in the Gunners side of the day, Ian Ure, the big blonde lummox at the back, moved most like a ballet dancer!

These days I am merely most grateful to be able to afford our season tickets and I've been more concerned than ever this time around, as the struggle to pay for our renewals is rapidly becoming an increasingly impossible feat. Rona proposed the preposterous suggestion that, in light of our precarious financial plight, perhaps we'd be better off using the money for her ticket to pay off a few debts. However even if the idea of giving up one of our seats merited consideration, we couldn't manage it, even IF we wanted, because we've swapped seats and would therefore be giving up the seat in the name of the person we swapped with.

Mercifully, thanks to being able to "put the squeeze" on those friends and family who appreciate quite how much the Arsenal means to us, I was able to roll up to the Box Office this morning, with a couple of grand burning a big hole in my pocket (roll up being the operative word, as roadworks at Finsbury Park are to be avoided like the plague at the moment, as it's absolute mayhem around here, with traffic backing up the entire length of Drayton Park and every other route out of the area).

I've been fretting ever since the Friday deadline that our seats might get thrown back into the system at the click of a mouse and I was dead anxious to get it sorted, both before we ended up losing them and before some other fiscal panic impinged on my wedge. If it wasn't for this and the thought of being caught in that awful gridlock again later in the day, I might have driven on when, to my disappointment, I saw the one person at the Box Office window who I would've most liked to have avoided. I'm familiar with many of the Box Office staff who've been working there for a while and this surly git is just about the most unhelpful of the lot.

Our renewals were probably more like a month overdue, than a mere four days, when I went to pay a couple of seasons back. But with a pal working in the Box Office back then, I knew that our seats were still safe. For similar reasons, worried that the money might dwindle by Monday, I was relieved when I walked around to THOF and discovered the Box Office open, but then disappointed when I eventually saw that it was this same miserable bugger behind the window.

Thankfully I knew better, as otherwise I might have had a heart attack, as he took some sadistic pleasure in telling me "You are too late!" I was about to walk away, thinking I'd better let my mate sort it out on Monday, when he tapped on the window to advise me that he'd relented, as if he was going to do me the massive favour of relieving me of nigh on four grand (for our old West Upper seats).

By contrast, he was relatively genial this morning, until I pulled the envelope from my back pocket and produced the readies, at which point he advised me that they no longer take cash! Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? He didn't have to tell me that there was no box to tick for cash on the renewal forms, but I'd assumed this was merely because they didn't accept cash through the post. It's downright bizarre for him to suggest that they don't accept real money over the counter! I stood there, dumbfounded for a minute, hoping he'd come up with a suggestion, whilst wondering whether I might be able to obtain a two grand postal order at the post office, as I couldn't bank the cash and pay by cheque, as most of it would have been swallowed up by my overdraft in the interim!

Then again, as had been the case previously, I was about to take my leave, in the hope of coming back later and finding someone more helpful at the window, when he indicated that he'd show me some mercy and make an exception! I just couldn't believe that this bloke had once again attempted to put the mockers on the unconfined joy felt at eventually managing to pay for our renewals, with the relief of knowing that I've secured our seats at the Arsenal and another season of viewing.

I suppose his sadistic party piece is intended to leave me feeling grateful to him for being so kind as to agree to take my two thousand pounds! Actually it was 1980 quid to be precise and he would only take it on the proviso that I had the exact money. What a complete tosser and it was a total contrast to my visit to the Box Office on Friday, when I was made to feel a small part of the club I love by the fact that the smiley young lass knew me by name.

His no cash and exact money rules were totally ridiculous because I then proceded to buy tickets for the tournament in July. I happened to pay for these with my Switch card (having spent all my money!!) but it occurred to me this evening that he must have been accepting cash for these tickets and I doubt very much that many punters would have the precise payment!

For your information, having gone on general sale, there are apparently still plenty of tickets for the two games on the Saturday, 28th July (Arse v PSG and Inter v Hamburg) but naturally the games on Sunday, 29th (Arse v Inter and Hamburg v PSG) are rapidly selling out. So you'd better pull your finger out if you fancy watching what I hope will prove to be Paddy's return?

Only the Arsenal could employ a person to deal with the public who's capable of taking two grand from me in such bad grace!!

Big Love


Anfield89 said...

Bernard, Why don't you let K Edelman know how wonderful your 'customer experience' at the box office felt as being a so called 'top retail executive' I'm sure he'd like to know how his 'customer' plans are progressing.After all you gave the club the largest amount of money they can take from you in 1 transaction...