The Return of Gaz Mastic

2017-12-22 12.51.14

I enjoy a stroll down the cut. The fact it’s cut into the geology around here tends to muffle the ambulances, fire engines and Feds that scream up and down the Lichfield Road 24 hours a day. I enjoy the bird life and the ducks. In the summer you can see Perch and shoals of Roach, the occasional trio of Bream chilling out in the sun dappled puke green canal water. After the recent postponement of the Reading match and the rigors of a day on the piss regardless it was good to be out with the dogs. Alcohol was nearly expunged from the system, I still felt positive and there, poking their little heads above the rapidly thawing snow was a bunch of Snowdrops. Beautiful delicate things. I stooped down to look at them and even the dogs stopped pulling for a few moments. Beauty and delicacy, simple stems, those drooping white flowers nodding as if they are ashamed at being so beautiful.

Suddenly I was jerked out of my Spring reveries as a steel toe capped boot appeared and crushed the delicate plant. The boot was a paint splattered thing. The leather that old it looked like mummy skin, brown, split in places. A work boot from the past. No breathable textile upper here. This was War-boot shit. It was attached to a thin ankle. Flapping Umbro tracksuit bottoms flapping around those spindly fucking legs. The trackie bottoms were covered it idly wiped mastic and yes. There on top of that body that even a crackhead would be ashamed to own was Gaz himself. For the love of Christ that face. Those missing teeth. Skin like a tourist camels hump. What teeth he did have left reminded me of an old graveyard in a Western flick. The lips were moving but I was still in the moment. The dogs looked at him as if he was some errant happening.

‘…Nuno you see? I don’t even know where to start Mikey but….’ he said. Hello Gaz. For it is you is it not? Fucking hell, here we go. Yes, Nuno. What about him? Some more angst to pour on the fire Gaz? Some of that Northbank ire maybe? Gaz has transferred from the Southbank to the Northbank you see. He liked to check his bets and sit down after being on his feet all day. Now the Northbank was the best thing since sliced bread or roll your own fags. That cheap Polish tobacco he bought. Those nicotine lips that yammered. His hat looked like misshapen black fungus, a fucking toadstool of a woolly hat…

…’ I knew Benik would be shit back here and I said to me mate ya see, I knew it. If I knew it why day Nuno? He’s paid a lot more fucking money than me ay he? All that skill and it means fuck all. It’s a great view up there in the Northbank ahk, you can see everything. I saw him mate he was shit. Fucking Costa as well the knobhead. What the fuck is he about?’ Gaz pontificated. I hadn’t even said hello to him yet.

‘Mar fucking dog ‘ud knock Costa over, and I said to mar mate he should be fucked off and Doherty and fucking Ruddy, he ay done anything of value ‘as he Mikey? He ay done anything. Lambert wouldn’t have put up with that shit..’

Gaz is the black cloud of despondency and of misery. He talks and he waved his little spindly arms around. On the one wrist ‘Wednesfield Skins’ done in Indian ink and a needle wrapped in cotton, probably done over the Sneyd or Rough Wood., names of some of his kids too, a Wolves wolf head that looked like it had  a stroke and not in a good way. Ah Gaz. He had moved out of the way a little as he went mad and I reached down and tried to straighten the bent stems of the Snowdrops. One was ok just a little mangled but three of them were fucked. I had felt bad about the Reading game being abandoned but hey ho. The weather was awful and I had seen a few old ‘uns tumbling over. Why do old people go out in the snow? One of them had a carrier bag that had nothing but Jaffa cakes and a pack of butter in it. Couldn’t they just chill for a moment? How fucking bad do you need a pack of Jaffa cakes? I know a lot of oldies go to the match and I had a gnawing pain of worry that Saturday morning as I looked out of the window at the weather. I was thinking about fractured hips and pneumonia. Flowers spelling out ‘Grandad’ up Bushbury Crematorium. All for a fucking football match. For fucks sake what’s wrong with me? A day in the pub would be better. I was thinking about doing a podcast in there but there was too much noise and too much angst. And it was a bitter wind that blew around town that day I’ll tell you.

Gaz was spitting a bit’…Fucking Chinesers mate, wim going the same way as Blues trust me, fucking Norwich was an eye opener for me ahk, I knew it was all going bad ten matches ago, bloody Swansea, I got a stream day I? Crystal clear, the son in law bought us one of the them Firebox sticks ya plug in, fucking brilliant, all the channels mate all the films, I watched Predator and…’

It has all been a little too much lately I suppose. I have logged off Twitter and Facebook. I didn’t want to read the bullshit and the bile about the team. I wanted to keep a positive mindset, I wanted everything to be under control and the best way I knew how to do that would be to ‘trust in Nuno’ and self censor the opinions that were rife on there. I can’t deal with it at the moment. Turn it off.  It’s all I can do. This season has exhausted me. The beautiful football. The crushing defeat at Fulham. The away days. The drinking. The drugs. The dynamics, Neves curling passes, Benik trying hard, Leo seeming as if he was the world on his shoulders, Jota looking more like a punchbag as the games carry on….all of it was making me tired and I daresay it’s making everybody else tired too. Judging by the social media madness it was doing a little more than that. You see Gaz only has a Facebook page so he can keep up with what his Missus is doing probably. I know it’s on his phone because I was behind him in the queue at Tescos 24 hour One-Stop the other day as he was buying a fucking Easter egg for Gods sake.

‘The assistant at the till asked him, ‘Would you like to donate an Egg to a Childrens charity you see…’ He cut her off. ‘No I fucking dow’ and paid for his egg and fucked off without noticing me thank God. But he was checking his Facebook for sure and it looked like a Fart porn page. His missus messaged me on it once and said she was settling down with a few cans of dark fruits and had a pizza on dial up. I knew his dog would be prone on the floor fast asleep, till the pizza came and I knew the can of dark fruits would soon be kicked over and that sticky liquid would join the Pollock inspired fast food and tea stained canvas that was his £3.99 a square yard cord carpet from Mr Carpet. I deleted her from my friends list. I haven’t got time for that shit. I’d rather read ‘Dingles ay we’. The Tesco check out girl said ‘It’s like the Walking Dead in here sometimes’. I nodded and smiled.

Yes, the season feels like the siege of Stalingrad to me. Endless and cold. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel the sun on my face. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to win a game. Walking out down the subway singing. Lately its been walking down the subway looking at the condensation dripping off the ceiling and tripping over the homeless and the ubiquitous Staffy looking pissed off and fat. Standing in the pub listening to people tell me about positivity even if they don’t believe it themselves, they know that’s what I want to hear. Thank fuck these players have a good coach and a professional mindset. I hope they do any way. I’m glad the sun is starting to feel warm on my head as I still kneel looking at the crushed Snowdrops. I think my knee is soaked from the slush and I want to cry a little I think as Gaz Mastic waxes his bitter lyrics.

But that sun does feel warm for sure and it’s the first time I’ve felt it this year and I’m a bit shocked if I’m honest. I look up into the sky and Gaz is in silhouette looking like a shadow puppet of a fucking deranged scarecrow and yes, it’s there for sure. Definitely and it is hot on my face. That sunlight. Peeking through the grey clouds.

Maybe the season is about to turn for us. Maybe the solar magic will do something to the team. Steve Bruce said ‘wait till the winter’ and at the time I felt he was a total deranged fucking fool. But now at the arse end of it I feel like old Brucey needs at least a nod of agreement. We haven’t been firing it’s true. Swansea. That fucking storm. The bitter cold of Barnsley and Sheffield. Am I moaning too much? We have big games to come. Villa and Leeds. Teams that will regard our position, strong as it may be, as not unassailable at least. Teams now have scented blood and regard every game against us as a ‘cup final’ for sure. No Neves for Leeds but that’s cool isn’t it? We aren’t a one man team for sure…are we?. But I thank fuck I’m not Nuno. Thank fuck I’m not part of the whole merry-go-round that is the Wolves experience. I’m not strong enough to deal with this angst. All I can do is support the team. Be positive. Stand outside the pub trying to keep my roll up lit in the bitter East wind that always blows through Town, up Broad street, past the Hogshead, past the Royal London, past the University, getting through every hole in your clothing.

We aren’t the greatest fans ever I suppose. We have our moments of madness when the team isn’t doing too well…if you can say nine points clear on top as not doing well maybe. But I have to stay out of the arguments and the angst, the tweets and the statuses, the forensic analysis of who is doing shit and why, the graphics of the team selections, the targeting of a certain player. You look at who posted it and it’s an account that has no face, maybe a Wolves head or a player, or a foggy out of focus phone shoot of a bald headed fat bastard on Holiday with his weird looking kids and he’s called ‘Where I Live Wolf’ insert area. And he looks the same as everybody else and the faces and accounts all blur into one and it’s sad and I feel a little weird for stalking those accounts whose bile exceeds their wit.

‘…Fulham were great, I watched it on a stream, I’ve got one of those Firebox sticks our Wayne bought it for us for Christmas, crystal clear, all the channels mate, fifty quid a year and…’ Gaz goes on. Gaz always goes on. I stand up straight and my knees crack and my back is killing me. My kidneys are hurting from too much beer the previous weekend. The sun shines. It always gets better some how. Everything comes out in the wash. Out of darkness cometh light and I’m smiling to myself a little bit. The son of Gaz is called Wayne then? I’ve been calling him Shane for years.

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