A day with the Seagulls

Inside the Amex

Hugo is writhing in agony. He’s in the net – as is the ball. Within 3 minutes of kickoff, an innocuous-looking cross floated in from the left. It’s straight at the goalkeeper. Hugo jumps for a comfortable catch. He drops the ball, falls backward, and the Brighton forward nips in unchallenged to head it into the net.

Henry leaps to his feet cheering. He can’t believe his beloved Albion, having lost 6 league games in a row, have taken the lead against the mighty Spurs after 3 minutes. A few moments of nervousness in case VAR wipes out the goal. But then the replay of the incident on the big screen shows no infringement and the goal stands. More cheering and delight from the home fans and the Amex stadium is alive with waving blue and white scarves.

Sitting next to Henry, I get to my feet slowly to see what’s happened. Hugo is now receiving medical attention. A long delay before he’s carried off on a stretcher, and replaced by our substitute goalkeeper. I feel sick – not for the injury but because things seem to be going downhill for Spurs. Sure enough, we concede 2 more goals, fail to score, and play without motivation or quality against a side we were expected to beat comfortably. Only later do we discover that Hugo has dislocated his elbow, and will be out of action for several months. A miserable week for our goalkeeper and captain, after giving away a goal last Saturday and then conceding 7 against Bayern on Tuesday.

Why do I do it to myself? Why invest so much emotional energy in a football club?

My friend Terry is a season ticket holder at Brighton and got me the ticket as a present for my 70th birthday a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to get it. I don’t get to many games and really looked forward to seeing Spurs play live. A day out with the Seagulls.

As I sat between Terry and Henry, surrounded by Brighton fans, my main concern had been to make sure I didn’t jump up and cheer when Spurs scored, and incur the wrath of their fans. No need to worry on that score (excuse the weak pun). Nothing for a Spurs fan to cheer in that game. When Brighton scored their third, a really good goal this time, and Terry and Henry leapt to their feet again, I also stood up (a little more slowly) and clapped. It was an effort to join in with the celebrations, but from what I had seen the Brighton fans were OK, and Terry and Henry had treated me well, so I tried to be happy for them. I did draw the line at joining in with the chants of ‘we want seven’ and ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning.’

After the game I thought to myself I must try to apply a little mindfulness to my Spurs habit. But now it’s Tuesday and I find myself browsing for any stories about Spurs. Will Poch be sacked? What are the players saying on social media? Any new transfer rumours? How are my fellow sufferers coping?

Maybe writing a blog post will help …

Love thy enemy?

On Tuesday we had what I thought was a momentous decision by our Supreme Court to declare the governments pro-rogation of Parliament illegal. But now our Prime Minister seems to be carrying on as normal. Parliament is back sitting again, but Boris Johnson and co will not admit they were wrong. He and Geoffrey Cox went on the offensive when Parliament returned on Wednesday, in probably the most angry Parliamentary session we have ever seen.

I am a member of the Labour Party, but not a very active one. Our political system is so adversarial. Brexit has made it much worse. Hate crime is rising, fuelled by right-wing politics. But should we respond to anger and hatred with more anger and hatred?

Our garden

We have had a lot of rain this week, and our garden is looking a lot fresher. It’s a bit overgrown. Chris is right, too many plants, too much growth, not enough space. I need to make some changes, maybe move a few plants or trim them back. I hate to dig them up or destroy them. Best to wait till it gets colder.

I turned 70 this week. Big milestone. Family weekend in Eastbourne, and then celebrated with a meal with Chris at the Duck and Waffle, on the 40th floor. Great views looking down on Tower Bridge. That’s what’s made me start this blog. After 70 years, I should have something to say?

View from the Duck and Waffle

There is a practice in Buddhism where the idea is to wish all beings achieve happiness and freedom from suffering. We are encouraged to think of different people, including our enemies, and wish them happiness and freedom from suffering. So as my enemy I have chosen Boris Johnson, and as part of the practice say such things as ‘may Boris Johnson know happiness and the causes of happiness’. It might stick in my throat sometimes, but if he is happy and free from suffering, he would not be so angry, would not be so driven in the pursuit of power, and not be fuelling the reactions of extreme Brexiteers.

Could you imagine a Labour Party conference where delegates took some time to wish happiness for Boris Johnson? Maybe not, but a little bit of compassion and respect for those of different views could be on the agenda.