The Beginning. Happy New Year!
The Joy of Painting (and simultaneous overthinking)
For some time, I have been thinking of painting a collection of pieces of, and about, Upton Park.
Partly therapy, partly commercialism, but wholly for the sake of everything or anything that is good about West Ham United.
You see painting is peaceful. It's not like making a film or a cartoon. They can both be fun, but they aren't peaceful, and you can't reflect or think about things whilst you create them. By god, we all deserve some peace.
So following the positive reaction to my last article I thought I may do more, following a theme. Paintings of significant images, and the thoughts I have whilst painting them - so here goes...
The Boleyn Castle (Green Street House)
The internet can be cruel to history. If you enter the phrase 'Green Street House' it will direct you toward the scene of The Enfield Poltergeist in the mid 70's - which consequently is still the only unexplained poltergeist encounter ever known. I digress.
So from here on, let me refer to the image above as The Boleyn Castle. Let me also refer you to my shop, which will contain absolutely everything in the article (and possible future articles) available for purchase as prints or paintings. Oh the joy of painting. Plug over. Back to East London.
You may already know a little bit about the story of The Boleyn Castle. You may know that legend suggests that it was the 'digs' of Anne Boleyn, whilst Henry VIII was courting her. Although, there is no evidence of this, just remember, this is a creative studio and I don't need evidence of anything - just a good imagination...
See. A little imagination can take you to a happy place.
Now, an easy link right now would be the execution of David Moyes. But I really would like this project to be something a little different. Something than can only really exist here, produced by a professional storyboard artist, and not just someone with an opinion. But I may revisit an execution later on...
Just imagine if there was evidence of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII at Boleyn Castle.
I also want you to imagine that the Luftwaffe didn't bomb the castle buildings too, and they were still standing.
Could you imagine walking through the castle grounds to the match in the 1990's?
Imagine the (extra) intimidation for the away team, knowing they were playing in the grounds, famed for our blood-thirsty King?
Our ground could have been majestic. Somewhat like the Holte End at Villa Park.
The Holte End 1982
There is no way on earth that Villa fans would leave Villa Park. I think this is the point I am taking you toward with some imagination.
When we left Upton Park, a fair argument was the comparison with Trigger's Broom. All four stands had been replaced from the original configuration. I fell from this comparison at the time. What we did was turn loveable Trigger from a Road Sweeper to a Traffic Warden tough. He still walked the streets, but for a different purpose, a purpose that we just couldn't admire - despite the financial rewards.
If this Royal history was there, and the turrets still stood, there would be no way that we would have left Upton Park. You can imagine that the club would be merchandising Henry and Anne to death though.
Here's the therapy bit of the project. I should have gave my season ticket up when we left Upton Park. I regret following the club as a Season Ticket holder to Stratford.
This is why, this season more than any other, I couldn't bear to see us get relegated. I would hate to feel, or anyone to think, this is why I am giving up my season ticket. But this is what I intend to do this year, and it has never had anything to do with the form of the team.
People who know me already know that I intended to do this last year, but one or two people talked me out of it. They have already apologised for this.
I can't bring myself to paint the 'new gaff'
Say what you like about Henry VIII - but it sounds like he was a passionate bloke. There isn't too much passion in Stratford. It's a purpose built cash machine of a place. Before the argumentative few tell me about the European Nights and the Chelsea/Spurs/Liverpool game - these are golden stitches in a lengthy tapestry of durge!
These are just my thoughts of course. My thoughts while painting the grounds of where our old ground stood. A ground full of memories.
But we've moved on. The castles went first, then the stands, then the sense of our own history. It's all gone. So let's cheer ourselves up with a good old execution!
One of the cynical transitions of the move is that the people of the club saw it as an opportunity to make changes. Changes that brought West Ham Utd in line with modern football.
The pointless media team are dreadful. The amount of times that they need say or do nothing - then commit themselves to a cringe-fest of ridicule is worthy of a gallery of it's own.
The latest installment is the completely unnecessary YouTube 'Club' interview with Club Captain Declan Rice after the home loss to Brentford. This interview invariably happens after Declan has already made his two or three appearances to the 'real' media. The one's that actually know what they are doing.
The Club interview is held, I understand, by a Spurs supporting employee who sugar coats questions, with a double spoonful of 'we were unlucky' to Declan - who is completely unprepared for the lack of pertinence to defend. We weren't unlucky, we got exactly what we deserved. Nothing.
If you know about body language, Declan gives LOADS of 'tells'. The frequent hand to the neck is a stress reaction, which is probably down to trying to say the right thing to the club representative.
"What would be your message to the fans after this loss?" asks the two-bob employee, masquerading as an interviewer. Foolishly assuming that he represents the fans.
"Just stick with us..." replies Declan, deeply wishing the idiot never asked him to address the suffering fans.
Of course YouTube can be a cruel platform. Firstly, barely anyone watches content like this on it. Secondly, it gives fan's the opportunity to comment - and comment they did.
"Are you sticking with us then Declan?" was a typical response from the fans, under emotional circumstances. Well, of course he isn't. He's a professional, destined for better things.
I can't say the same about the staff interviewer. Off with his head!
That's enough for my thoughts whilst painting my first piece of the year. Now bow down to Henry VIII, the king that, regrettably, never went to Upton Park - and please leave the castle via the gift shop...