Final-ly

Okay, let’s get this out of the way.

On Tuesday, Liverpool, who my best friend Llŷr had literally supported all of his life, performed a miracle, and managed to beat red-hot favourites Barcelona 4-0 to reach the final of the Champions League for the second year running.

At full time, I found myself more emotional than I’d ever been at the end of a football match – certainly not at one that didn’t involve my team, Tottenham Hotspur – shedding a tear in joy and sorrow that my old mate wasn’t around to have seen it.

The only thing that could possibly top that would be if my lot managed to overturn a first leg deficit on Wednesday and join them in the final.

I’d been at the first (home) leg, where we had been terrible for much of the first half, and marginally better in the second, fortuitous not to have been out of it by the final whistle.

But there was hope. Just a 0-1 away goal deficit to over-turn in the second leg. It seemed do-able. To Dream is To Do.

But after ten minutes, and another goal down, it seemed much more unlikely.

And by half-time, and at 3-0 down on aggregate, I almost turned the TV off.

But then….the unthinkable happened:

I’ve watched the highlights each night since, and still I can’t quite believe it.

When Tottenham and Liverpool reached the semi-finals, Hel – also a life-long Red – and I pledged that if both teams made the final, we would watch it together. Not just because of our own fandom, but for LlÅ·r; he can’t be here to witness it, so we were going to make damn sure we were together. Because whatever the result, he’d be happy: gutted if Liverpool lost, of course, but happy because he’d know how much it would mean to me.

And obviously, the same applies in reverse from my point of view.

Within minutes of the final whistle on Wednesday, my eyes still full with tears, we’d made concrete plans.

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Kings of Tomorrow (feat. Julie McKnight) – Finally

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who got emotional when that final whistle blew on Wednesday night:

So, y’know, this:

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Teenage Fanclub – Tears Are Cool

More soon.

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Finally

You’ll forgive me this self-indulgent post, I hope.

Regular readers will know that I’m a long standing, long suffering fan of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. You can read about how this love affair started here, if you like.

We got knocked out of the FA Cup last week (by Chelsea) , and currently sit 2nd in the Premiership (with only Chelsea above us).

It would be easy to focus on Chelsea as the enemy right now, and they are, but there’s another team which deserves that attention, for the moment, at least.

For the last 22 years, our bitterest rivals, North London invaders Arsenal, have celebrated “St Totteringham’s Day” – the day when it becomes impossible for us to overtake them in the Premiership.

Yesterday, we played Arsenal, and beat them 2-0. That leaves us 17 points ahead of them, with 5 games to play. 3 points for a win means it is now impossible for Arsenal to catch us.

You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to type those words.

For whilst we might not manage to catch Chelsea, and Arsenal may still win the FA Cup, yesterday’s result leaves it impossible for Arsenal to overtake us in the one that really matters: the Premiership.

That’s the first time that’s happened since the 1994-95 season. 22 years of hurt and, finally, after many a close call, we have bragging rights over our (not really) North London rivals.

Ten years or so ago, I entered into a bet two seasons running with an Arsenal friend of mine: £50.00 says we’ll finish above you.

Whilst I know the official club message is that we’re still in the hunt for the Premiership title (which we are, just), you’ll forgive me if, £100.00 poorer, I’m in the mood for some gloating; I’ve waited a long time for this moment.

I wish I could think of better, more relevant songs than this to mark the moment, but what the heck:

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Hard-Fi – Hard to Beat

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Kings of Tomorrow (feat. Julie McKnight) – Finally

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Ce Ce Pensiton – Finally

More soon. Next season, for example.

The Sample Life

This post started off as being the next in my Late Night Stargazing thread, but as I was writing it, it struck me it would be much better served resurrecting another old thread.

I think we’ll start by breaking this one down into it’s composite parts.

Firstly, the main vocal part of the tune is provided by none other than Miss Nina Simone, the song lifted from her ground-breaking 1961 album “Forbidden Fruit”:

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Nina Simone – Rags And Old Iron

Next, the bass line is stolen from this bunch of wonderful nerdos:

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Devo – Mongoloid

In the words of a now disgraced and imprisoned antipodean, can you tell what it is yet?

It’s this:

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Layo & Bushwacka! – Love Story (Original Version)

Anyone who thinks DJs, remixers, call them what you will are not talented musicians in their own right need to have a word with themselves. It takes a very special creative mind to hear a Nina Simone record and think “You know what that needs? A bit of Devo, that’s what!” and then to pull it off with such aplomb. Chapeau, Monsieur Layo et ton ami Monsieur Bushwacka! (No idea where the French accent has come from, by the way. I seem to have come over all ‘Allo! ‘Allo!. Their real names are Layo (no, really) and Matthew, which doesn’t really have the same impact, even if you do add an exclamation mark after it.)

Anyway, released in 2002, “Love Story” takes me right back to a club in Cardiff that me and my buddies used to frequent. Now closed, due, I think, to some alleged misdemeanour over fire regulations, The Emporium to my mind was the best club in the city. Not especially big, but just dark and dingy enough that you could get lost in it – or lose yourself in it, if you prefer – it was spread over two floors and three rooms; as you entered there was a funky little bar, which by the end of the night had inevitably turned into a chill-out area; in the corner was a spiral staircase leading up to The Attic, where things usually got a little harder and faster, across to the opposite staircase, stopping only to warn those on the way up to “Mind The Step” (right at the top there was one step which was slightly higher than the others, and it was a rare event when you walked up or down it that you didn’t see someone trip over it and end up spread-eagled on the floor outside the Ladies – not a good look), and into the main room.

The great thing about the main room – well, one of the many great things about the main room – in The Emporium was that it had a sprung wooden floor (the club itself was situated above a row of shops, so we’re actually on the first floor now) so that when the bass kicked in on any particular tune you could really feel it. Often the combination of that and the crowd going mental meant that you were, literally, bouncing, almost to the point where you began to fear the floor would give way and we’d all be hurtled down into the shop below. At which point you’d realise you were heading into a paranoia hole and decide now was probably a good time to pop another pill, sniff another popper, or whatever your stimulant of choice was. After all, they’d never survive the fall, would they? Best make the most of them now, eh?

“Love Story” was most definitely one of those tunes, especially if the DJ knew to crank the bass up just as it kicks back in at the 05:40 mark.

A year later, “Love Story” took on a whole new lease of life, when Tim Deluxe did one of them there mash-up things, taking this:

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Kings of Tomorrow (feat. Julie McKnight) – Finally

and added it to “Love Story” making this:

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Layo & Bushwacka! – Love Story vs Finally

Much as I love that version, it’s the original that does it for me every time.

Guess I’d better go and dig something out for the Late Night Stargazing thread then, hadn’t I?

More soon.