Our fragile dreams..

I decided to leave an industry event, convinced it was another futile exercise in self importance / promotion where I was pandering faintly pathetically to much more important people with much more important things to be doing.

I slumped off to random soho pub to find Chelsea disappointingly 1-0 up on Barcelona, but having seen a replay of the goal and despite hating Chelsea, I couldn’t begrudge them the lead.  It was a simply beautiful goal from Michael Essien which gave them their slender advantage.

I pondered my first freelance job, wondering if the contact hadn’t just extended it to me as a kind of favour.  A big favour I welcomed nonetheless.  I wondered if my self employment would be sustainable, how much more I’d have to do.

Didier Drogba dramatically went down under a challenge.  It was difficult to say if his grief was justified.  If he got hit by a lorry and sprawled theatrically across the asphalt, you might still suspect that he’d dived.

I hope I’m not too much of a charity case with competitive rates, and am, as he has said, actually someone he rates.  My nervousness centres around producing the goods, securing them what they want, not screwing up.  Being given your first job feels a little like being given a small baby to cradle for the first time.  Not quite knowing exactly what to do but knowing you should seem firm and assertive, and as if you know what you’re doing really.  Even if you don’t.

I got chatting to a northern fan who wouldn’t initially admit he supported Man United, who the winners of this game would play in the Champions League Final.  “Is it Barnsley?” I asked. He was actually interesting to chat to, for a United fan.  Knowledgeable and interested, favouring Chelsea in the game we were watching because he preferred United to play them in the Final.

The bar was populated with a sprinkling of Spanish fans, not to be unexpected in a central London bar, who cheered on their team with a predictable vigour.  Chelsea seemed to be being declined penalty appeal after penalty appeal.  Even if most are sketchy appeals, if you have about four you’ll usually get one given.

They didn’t.

So many nerves and so much paranoia about starting up alone, while still having an eye out for full-time employment opportunities.  If one of those came along, I was offered and accepted a role, would I feel as if I’d bottled the self employment thing?  Let myself down by not actually trying?  Perhaps.  Cross that bridge if and when it arrives.  Is my reputation and my will to aggressively self-promote strong enough to secure enough work to live off? Who can say?

Still 1-0 to Chelsea, the game almost over.  Barcelona, now with only 10-men, still bravely pressing in West London.  The Manchester fan was an amiable bloke. His companion a rotund, older Leeds fan, who I figured must be a colleague.

Yet more intricate Barcelona passing on the edge of the box, next to no time left to play.  The ball dropped to Andres Iniesta, who picked out a stunning top corner finish, squaring the game and putting Barcelona ahead on the away goal rule.  The catalan guy in front of us exploded into hysterical raptures, leaping around and jolting my pint. I joined him in his celebration, heartily shaking his hand, positive in my hatred of Chelsea. The Manc seemed genuinely disappointed, if mute.

As the tube stops at Fulham Broadway little under half hour later, the packed platform of football fans leers into view.  A girl opposite me baulks, realising the imminent deluge and we share a brief exchange of forboding before the doors ping open and the carriage is flooded in royal blue and white.

I’m still as pleased at their defeat as I was in the bar, even among all the condensed glum faces, many of them suits – those who can afford seats at Chelsea-Barcelona.

Where did my human sense of empathy go?  For a feeling of defeat I should know only too well?  Why do we grow such unhealthy, quite ostensibly despicable antipathy for rival teams?  Was I an extremely unpleasant person to be enjoying their disappointment so much? Enjoying the misfortune of others while I could?  Before my own hope disintegrated?

Only when I saw a younger fan in his early 20s and apparently without company, still shaking his head, did I feel a mild twinge of sympathy. I do hate Chelsea but this must be particularly gauling, a semi-final Champions League defeat, especially after last season’s defeat to Man United in the final.  Perhaps it was because the fan was so lost in himself, alone, desolate in a crowd, uncaring about his appearance in the loss of a dream.


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