Seasonal greetings and keep the faith!
Watch out Jack Reacher!
Its been a great week for Villa fans after some superb results created a total Villa love-in amongst the punditry. Even Robbie Savage withdrew his ‘Villa for relegation’ taunt, as the Villa faithful lay back and luxuriated in the warm soothing glow of optimism, which has been as knee-jerk and as over the top as our doom-mongering was, only a few weeks ago.
The magic Christian Benteke has ignited the imaginations of the faithful and it seems only a matter of time before he earns cult status amongst Villa fans and is immortalised by his name being given to a character in one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher crime novels.
As all Villa fans know, Lee Child, aka Jim Grant, adorns his thrillers with Villa names, like Ian Rankin uses rock lyrics, and for any Villa obsessive, it creates an additional tension in the plot, when some British bad guy is called John Gregory and has a partner called G. Taylor, and he keeps you waiting to see if it is who you think it’s going to be (The Hard Way).
All the icons are there to be found and savoured – Savo, Withe and McGrath etc etc. And it is all rather cosy and amusing to think of the millions of readers across the globe (especially those Americans), who read of the adventures of Jack Reacher and are totally oblivious to the delight of these Easter eggs. And it is far from certain, whether even British readers will get every reference because some names may not be Villa or football related. The fictional village south of Norwich called Bishop’s Pargeter, which appears in one book, seems more than likely to be named after the retired Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral in Brum, Bishop Philip Pargeter.
Whether Monsignor Pargeter, who still lives in Sutton Coldfield, is a Villa supporter or not, we’ll have to leave to those who plan a thorough exegesis of the Lee Child canon.
In the meantime, we must wait to see whether Benteke will attain the iconic status necessary for him to find his way into a Lee Child thriller. I am sure it would be a great name for a character called Reverend Christian Benteke, in a Jack Reacher adventure, involving an African church in New York, in a book called, Cross Purposes. And, should Jim Grant really be in need of a name with both a Villa connection, and which would work as a character in his books; what about Jonny ‘maddog’ Fear, a gang-banger from Spanish Harlem, in a book called Mexican Take-out?
Sadly, I am blessed with neither the necessary iconic Villa status or an interesting enough name to make the cut. My name can be reversed to make quite a convincing American name, but Wade Stevens sounds like a character who might be a filing-clerk for the bureau. Ever since Eddie Izzard named the manager of the canteen, on Darth Vader’s Death Star, Mr Stevens, it has lacked a certain appeal.
So it looks like I am destined for ignominious obscurity, while Jonathan Fear can at least cling to the small hope of reading of his namesake, sleeping with the fishes in the Hudson river like Luca Brasi.
Setting aside all fantasies of Jack Reacher getting his ass kicked by theReverend Christian Benteke, it looks like I must get back to more mundane football matters and the prospect of Christmas. What with Villa taking on Rafa’s Chelsea, who are fresh from mauling Leeds United in midweek and my general prejudices against Christmas, I can’t decide which is the more daunting.
I can’t say I was very impressed with Chelsea’s performance in Japan and they are very inconsistent in the league but even if they don’t quite add up to anything equal to the sum of their parts, they are still a formidable team on paper, with individuals capable of playing football to make you swoon. It represents another massive test for Villa, who have created a bit of pressure for themselves by their recent excellent performances.
If Villa were to put on another show like they did at Anfield and beat Chelsea, I would probably see it as a sign that even if the Mayan apocalypse did not happen, then at least something massive has shifted in the Villa cosmos. But as that is rather unlikely, I will be perfectly happy and will be definitely full of seasonal chuffedness if they bring home a point.
Things are looking up for Villa and just as with Christmas with the family: every year it is the same; just when I…….
Seasonal greetings and keep the faith!