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Soup of This Day #144: There’s More To See Than Can Ever Be Seen

February 27, 2012

Toulouse-Latrec's The Bed
Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Bed. It looks comfortable. Bet they’re not missing the football – Image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Early in 2001 I had a chronic back ache.

I knew the cause of this ailment – I was sleeping on a cheap fold-up bed, that had an inch of foam separating me from springs that weren’t designed for someone who weighed more than hamster. It could have been worse as 12 months previously I was wrapping up a 5 month stint sleeping on the floor of a cramped, poorly ventilated room through the height of a Perth summer.

When you start complaining that the carpet is too worn for sleeping on then you have a problem.

So the fold-up bed was a step up and for a time a welcome improvement. But then my ungrateful back started complaining and to be fair it had a point.

So too, unfortunately, did the bed. It had lots of points. And lumps. And knobbly bits that were somewhere in between points and lumps. What it didn’t have was anything approaching positive lumbar support.

It’s ineffectiveness was highlighted 1 night when a friend slept on the bed and complained the next morning that it had made her blind in 1 eye. Which is weird because I’d been told that something else could do that but not just lying in a guy’s bed. Particularly when the guy is not there with you but instead sleeping on a beanbag across the room.

For the record I had a good sleep that night.

Despite all of this I persisted with the blinding bed of torture. At least until it screwed with my sport-watching ability.

The key turning point came at the 2001 League Cup Final when Liverpool FC faced up to then-Championship (2nd-tier) Birmingham City FC. The Reds hadn’t won a Cup Final since 1995. Actually they hadn’t won anything since 1995 so this was a big deal.

As befitting such an occasion I trooped off with my brother to an all-night pizza café that was showing the game on a big screen. We got there not long before kick-off to find the place was packed to the seams and a fair bit beyond that to boot. There was the café part, with a long counter and kitchen and then there was a separate room with the large screen and seating for around 100 patrons. For the overflow, the end of the room had a large portal, a window out on to the sidewalk. You could stand out there and see down the length of the room to the screen. That’s where we ended up.

We were lucky. People who arrived after us ended up on the street. Which is technically a highway. At 1 point late in the game a police car cruised up, causing the crowd to instinctively compact up on to the sidewalk. 1 of the 5 cops in the car wound down his window, pointed at me and beckoned me over to the car. I nervously lent down to the car, expecting a bollocking for standing on the edge of a busy road.

‘What’s the score?’ he politely asked.

‘Ummm… 1 all,’ I tentatively provided.

‘Cool,’ he said, ‘We’ll be back.’

And they were. I’m pretty sure that there were 5 cops in a car doing block runs so that they could find out what was happening in the football. Maybe the desk sergeant wasn’t big on the football being on in the station.

Meanwhile the game dragged. Liverpool scored 1st on 30min via striker Robbie Fowler. Birmingham levelled on 90mins via a penalty converted by Darren Purse and extra time was invoked. That turned out to be 30 minutes of not much and a penalty shoot-out followed for the 1st time in a major English Cup Final (League Cup or FA Cup). Liverpool had led that penalty contest 3-2 after the Midlands team had missed their 1st penalty but when Didi Hamann missed the Reds 4th, Birmingham’s Stan Lazaridis, a lad from Perth, Western Australia, levelled it up at 3-3. In the end though Liverpool prevailed 5-4 with Andy Johnson missing the crucial spotkick for City.

I looked the detail around that last bit on Wikipedia. I didn’t actually watch the final part of the game. So bad was my back that, after 2 hours of standing on the sidewalk I could take no more. I ended up curled up in the back of a small hatchback while my brother provided representation at the café.

Fast forward 11 years to last night. Liverpool were again in the League Cup Final, this time against Championship side Cardiff City. Like in 2001, it has been 6 years since Liverpool last won a trophy so this was a big deal.

Unlike in 2001 Liverpool did not score 1st – Cardiff’s Joe Mason netted the opener against the run of play on 19 minutes. Martin Škrtel equalised with a close-range tap-in on 60 minutes and with neither side able to add to their tally in 90 minutes, extra time was needed once more. This was not to prove scoreless, with Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt scoring a scrappy goal in the 108th minute, shortly after coming on as a substitute. Then, 2 minutes from full-time, Ben Turner bundled the ball over the goal-line and the Bluebirds were level. Liverpool could not find a response in the short time remaining and so a penalty shoot-out was on the menu again.

The Red’s talismatic captain Steven Gerrard missed his spot-kick and even though Cardiff’s Kenny Miller missed as well the momentum was with Cardiff when the normally reliable Charlie Adam missed Liverpool’s 2nd penalty. Cardiff though could only succeesfully convert 1 of the next 3 attempts though, while Liverpool knocked in their next 3. This left Cardiff’s Anthony Gerrard, Steven Gerrard’s cousin, needing to convert the Bluebird’s 5th spot-kick to keep the Welsh side in the game.

He missed.

And so Liverpool had won their 8th League Cup, extending their own record in the competition. Aston Villa have won the 2nd most League Cups with 5.

Back to 2001 and dejected at missing my beloved Liverpool holding aloft that year’s League Cup I went out and bought a bed. I used a newly acquired credit card to buy a queen-sized bed rendered in Tasmanian Oak and with a mattress that could have put an insomniac to sleep in minutes. That mattress was replaced late last year after 11 years of dutiful service but the bed frame remains. Even more critically the girl who lost the sight in 1 eye is now married to me and occupies that bed alongside me pretty much every night.

She only lost her sight temporarily – Don’t worry, she didn’t marry me half blind.

For all that I missed the game last night. It was just too late and with a pregnant wife I have responsibility for the late night and early morning wake-up duties for The Noah. Since the dude called out for Mummy and Daddy a little after 1:00am last night I spent the remainder of the night and most of the match sleeping on a mattress on the floor in his room.

It’s the circle of life.

There’s More To See Than Can Ever Be Seen

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