Right that’s it, I’m off. I’m not renewing my season ticket and I’m leaving Newcastle altogether. Not my usual idle threat at this time of year brought on by the shit weather that this country calls a summer, or this year in particular by the shabby way our club is treating darling Joey Barton. The car is sold and our belongings are packed into boxes, flogged at knock down prices, given away or spread into our neighbours’ wheelie bins (in the dead of night) throughout a half mile radius.
I sit beneath a teetering cardboard mountain in the hope that the malicious f***ers who are digging up the bastard pavement right outside my house don’t cause enough seismic disruption for me to be buried alive. To die under an avalanche of my unsold books would be more appalling and ironic than to be struck dead by an errant golf ball. Turns out Joey Barton plays golf and I thought we would become such firm friends (“go on Joey mate have a pint, what’s the worst that could happen?”) – f***ing golf; we crawled out of the spawning pools for golf? I want my gills back dammit.
Leaving Newcastle is hard, there is much we will miss, the kindness of people for a start: folks have been falling over themselves to assist in our world tour and not just the mates who are looking after all the crap we leave behind either; strangers recommending destinations and drinking companions around the globe. Exactly how many of these “good mates” turn out to be “sadistic mackem cannibals” will at least make for interesting reading back at Mag HQ.
I have been forced to go cold turkey on the Playstation just as LA Noire comes out, I’ll miss that, along with Springwatch and Dr Who. I’ll miss The Damned performing The Black Album in its entirety at the O2 and I’ll miss The Computers at the Cluny in July. I’ll miss my garden table – I do so like to stand in the house watching the rain bounce off it throughout June and July.
I won’t miss my job (despite my plummeting bank balance) damn thing tried to kill me, then send me mad, then they tried to sack me. It had reached the point where I was wary of punching a member of the general public in the face ever again. I won’t miss The Kings of Leon’s North East show either; we have seen KoL seven times across three continents in the last two years and along with The Jim Jones Review, The Silversun Pickups and Rise Against they form the bedrock of the World Tour playlist but we saw them in Sheffield in December and Jesus H Christ on a bicycle? Somewhere along the line they became the band of choice for inbred slack-jawed chav-scum. “Eeee me sex is on fire” – that would be the clamydia dear, try not to give it to the dog. Where is it they are playing again? Oh sunderland, perfect. So being away I won’t have to see another series of articles on the local news about how well sunderland is doing to be attracting the most popular of artists to their stadium. “People have travelled from all over the world…” yes to Newcastle, to stay in Newcastle and to eat and drink in Newcastle if they have got any sense, sunderland is little more than our scabby function room. (My mate Paul gave me that line – I promised to credit him.)
Most of all I won’t miss being a Newcastle fan in Newcastle during the summer.
The summer used to bring little but thrills at Newcastle United; once we had come to terms with the fact that Robert Lee would not be leaving (the media ran with that story every year for 9 years), it was an excitable crescendo of team improvement, giddy delirium when the season ticket eventually dropped through the door and gleefully committing to memory an entire new fixture list.
In recent years, and long before the arrival of Mr Ashley, it has been a terrible decline into self-loathing. “Who would want to come here?” we all secretly think. We long ago learned not to expect any reliable reassurance about the quality of players arriving and now expect nothing but to be lying on the floor forlornly clutching for the departing coat tails of our better footballers.
For the last two summers it has been foretold that all our players would be gone by August, except for the crap ones nobody wants. Rather brilliantly (in hindsight) that didn’t happen, we got rid of a lot of expensive dead wood and kept a determined core. We can all see that adding to that determined core (you know who they are) would make us a pretty formidable football team but how many of us have got steel lined concrete where our belief should be? Who knows, perhaps Mr Pardew (seen drinking with Mr Ashley in Mayfair only last week) has got a sizeable budget and a plan but so far the players we are linked with are worryingly French.
If you are a supporter of Newcastle United the only way to stay sane at this time of year is to ignore Newcastle United altogether and the hardest place in the world to do that is Newcastle upon Tyne.
It is now officially too late to come with me so look after the place and don’t make a mess or do anything silly. I’ll be in touch.
Follow the Billy Furious World Tour at www.billyfurious.com or at billyfurious1st on Twitter. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or anyone you know is flying the black and white flag in Memphis, Nashville, Chicago, Denver, anywhere in Costa Rica, Santiago in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina, anywhere in New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. And thank you very much to all of you who have done so already. Barry in New York – I’ll hopefully see you next week.