When I was growing up, I remember amongst the family memorabilia was an illustrated log book that my father had worked on during HMS Victorious’ journey round the globe in the 60’s. His natural talent had been spotted at some point by Her Majesty’s Navy and, instead of merely caricaturing his ship mates, he was asked to keep a log of the trip.
He was completely self taught and, I’m proud to say, really very good so there were some marvellous illustrations. What I remember at this point though, is that as it went on it clearly became an onerous task, that he either didn’t have the time for or grew bored with, because he began to draw himself under pressure to complete the work. He would appear bent over a desk scratching his head or some officer would be asking “How’s the log going?” Being a lowly matelot I imagine he felt under some pressure to please his superiors. I bring this up merely because, when I haven’t written a blog for a while, it’s a memory that returns.
You’d think I’d have a ton of photos after such an absence but, through indolence and ineptitude, good stuff has been thin on the ground. I could have recorded rain falling this Summer or Olympic triumph on the TV but, when the creative mood took me, I instead plucked a guitar and sang redemption songs full of searing social commentary. These nuggets only met with requests for me to stop tapping my foot. Realising I needed to break the lethargy I decided to end my exile from Plymouth and, despite little prospect of victory, head to Home Park.
My wife had been thinking of cancelling my paltry life insurance this week but on informing her of my Saturday trip to the West Country she said “Maybe I’ll wait till Monday”. On my demise I like to think it’ll actually be quite expensive to find someone to empty and fill the dishwasher while also keeping the Wi-Fi going.
I set off through the storms, some of them around me, but others pretty firmly established around the Director General of the BBC. I had a new car to enjoy after the 10 year old Skoda Octavia Vrs had been traded for a new model. The digital radio in the old one used to signal that I’d crossed the Devon border by giving up the ghost, but now it was crystal clear all the way to Plymouth. Of such small technological improvements, the happy life is made. As I sped through the torrential down pours, on the radio the DG also floundered.
The fall from grace of Plymouth Argyle has meant that about 10,000 people no longer go to watch the beautiful game as presented in League Two; so parking is now a doddle. This was my first game in this division, my first in 18 months and the most obvious absence was the line of burger trucks leading to the ground, although the man selling pasties out of the back of his van has survived. Plymouth, the largest city in England never to have had a team in the top flight – what were you thinking Dad? Still, it could have been worse, he might have taken me to Portsmouth or to Elgin City, the drive to which would be an heroic outing.
Having only followed Argyle’s fortunes on internet football forums, I wasn’t expecting much, but as with all things cyber there’s an awful lot of tosh. It was like watching Brazil at times and defensively Langley Primary U11’s, but against the top of the table it was a mighty impressive performance. Carl Fletcher, the manager whose shifty ‘can’t look at the camera ‘ interviews do him no favours, clearly has a soft spot for Barcelona or Ajax because his team makes the most delightful patterns when observed from the back of the main stand. You have to be disappointed with a point but heartened by the manner of it.
It’s a while since I’ve left happy from a trip to Home Park but as I moved through the crowd down an avenue of coach tail lights I felt pretty contented. My father would have enjoyed the football as a Spurs man and, as for his career as an illustrator, well the Navy clearly liked what he did for them because he turned pro when he left in the 70’s and ended up with a comic strip in the Navy News called ‘Jack.’ He used the name ‘Tugg’ because that is what Willson in the Navy is named, after the captain who made the seaman tow his ship with a rowing boat when becalmed. When Dad died in 2006, the Navy organised a Memorial and a fly past, not bad for a seaman who was once on a charge for ‘smoking in the magazine’.
Thanks for Plymouth Argyle, Dad, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Pictures below shot on Fuji X100.