Saturday, April 7, 1984

Minions of the state

Robert drove over from Dearnelow and he, Dad and I went to see Athletic play Hatherseats. The kick off was delayed fifteen minutes to allow the crowds to get into the ground. Hatherseats were easily the better team in the first half and outplayed Easterby completely: Ben Tester scored from a deflected long-range shot three minutes before half-time.

The seats in the Three Locks Road side were filled with Hatherseats fans and when Tester scored they erupted into cheers and clapping; as they did, the half-dozen Athletic thugs in front of us snarled with rage and swore and shouted at them, pointing at selected victims with clenched fists, telling them that they were “dead” afterwards. They spent the remainder of the game infiltrating the stand and drawing closer and closer to one unfortunate, their faces black with anger, their eyes blazing with murderous intent.

I felt separate from them.

It seemed certain that Easterby were going to lose, but after halftime they came out and took Hatherseats apart. Four goals in the last twenty minutes silenced the massed ranks of red on the Kop and I was glad.

Grant rang later and said he had just got back that teatime, so I arranged to meet him in the Woodhead Hotel at Lockley. He spent a lot of time telling me about a play he took part in last term at Gloucester in which he played the role of Moors Murderer Ian Brady. It involved a lot of direct interplay between audience and cast, and he said the former were transfixed in their seats, not daring to move. I should think he made a good Ian Brady.

We walked up to the Magpie and I felt oddly weary amd unable to pursue lines of conversation with any thoroughness. I couldn’t reach across the gulf between us with my words. I told him everything was the same since this time last year and I didn’t know what path to pursue, and he admits to being in a similar position to me. We talked about political violence as an escape from the numb passivity of life, the IRA . . . He said they are after power: “In a role reversal they’d act just like minions of the State. They all desire Power.”

I sensed the gulf between us once more.

We left the pub, bought a curry, then I caught the bus home, my head full of all the old things.

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