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Soup of This Day #362: These Old Tomcat Feelings You Don’t Understand

February 19, 2014

Sphynx cat
A hairless Sphynx cat. This is a breed not often featured on sporting club crests – Photo: The Pug Father, 2008. The Pug Father is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I have a weird smell that has been following me all day. Which probably means that it is coming from me, or more precisely my clothes. This isn’t a cause for panic – I’ll figure it out when I get home. For now the folks around me are just going to have to live with occasional wafts of something that they’ll not quite be able to work out.

This is a triumph for me. Not that I have acquired eau de something, but that I’m able to just carry on without getting freaked out. Partly this is because of medication, but also it’s because I’ve grown and I’m more capable of discerning what’s important in life. For instance I’m not in a job that requires a heap of contact with others – If I was, I’d have a spare shirt on standby in my office.

I think I’ve narrowed it down to the back of my shirt.

But I don’t have a spare shirt and so I recognize that there is nothing I can do about this smell. Also, I live in a house with 2 small kids, a puppy and 2 cats. Finding weird stains on my clothes is not something I bat an eyelid at any more. Quite frankly if I can get out the door in the morning and I’m able to identify the source of that squishy purple bubble in my shoe, then I’ve had myself an ok start.

This smell though is enigmatic and it has an edge to it that is a little sharper than a blueberry-tainted sock.

I kind of think it might be a small patch of cat urine.

That I ironed into my shirt this morning.

Yep, I’m getting occasional bursts of an odour that is like I imagine cat urine would be if you reduced it in a hot pan. I guess that this doesn’t immediately read as a good thing – It probably makes me seem like 1 of those weird cat people. This though is the beauty of having ironed cat urine into your shirt, the pale yellow lining if you like – I feel remarkably free because of it.

The limits of society have been already stretched for me so I now have more latitude in which to operate. I can now spill relish on my shirt front and that’s relatively ok. I can sing Tom Waits’ numbers to myself in public and it’s eccentrically acceptable. I can even ramble barely coherent sentences at colleagues, suggesting for instance, that our organisation is a little horse that is competing against Jaguars. As in the car brand.

Like Chelsea FC manager José Mourinho did.

Now I don’t imagine that José’s cats took a leak on his attire. I’m not even sure if José is the kind of guy to own cats – If he does I reckon those hairless 1s would be his type as that would eliminate the danger of an errant hair being out of place on his person. José you see, is 1 snappily dressed dude. Immaculate and fashionably black turtle-neck jackets seem more José’s style.

Yet José feels unconstrained by society’s mores – When discussing his team’s title chances, as opposed to those of Arsenal and Manchester City, he can explain that the triumvirate are made up of:

‘Two horses and a little horse. A little horse who needs milk and to learn how to jump’

Chelsea are the little horse who needs milk and to learn how to jump. Presumably the milk is for calcium to strengthen bones, while the jumping is because they are vulnerable at set-piece attacks.

Then, less than a week later, he can announce that, no, Manchester City is no longer a horse. Instead, that rival club is:

‘…a Jaguar. You cannot put an ‘L’ plate on a Jaguar.’

Presumably he’s referring to a Jaguar that has no need of milk and that has learned to jump. Although why you’d want a car that runs on milk and that jumps is lost on me.

As is a lot of what José has said, including that you can’t put learner plates on a Jaguar – I’m sure I’ve seen that. He can say nonsensical things like this though and nobody, even the confused me, will do more than chuckle at him. There will be no cat urine and no recriminations, because José is a modern football manager, doing what modern football managers do – He’s stretching the limits of what society expects so as to give his team more latitude in which to operate.

It’s more than giving them the freedom to spill relish on their shirt-fronts though – Take his ‘little horse’ analogy. This is patently wrong – Chelsea is not Seabiscuit, the unlikely equine champion of the people. No, Chelsea is War Admiral, the big money favourite of the well-heeled crowd. The Blues are 1 of the English Premier League’s (EPL) big 4 clubs – They are backed by billionaire Roman Abramovich and have at their disposal a frankly ridiculous amount of money, some of which has already been parleyed into a conglomeration of some of the world’s best players. Today, they’re about as closely related to Seabiscuit as I am to fresh-smelling clobber.

José knows this and he knows that we know it too. What he’s doing though is getting us to focus on the silly thing that he said, while creating the freedom for his team to believe that they are Seabiscuit. It’s not a new strategy – EPL managers have been using it for a while, most famously Sir Alex Ferguson, formerly of Manchester United, who frequently suggested that his club, arguably the largest in the game, was just a small outfit taking on the world. He launched tirades against the referees, the media, the EPL, FIFA and whoever else happened to wander vaguely into the bellicose Scot’s focus. All of this gave his team the freedom to believe and almost all of it was a load of cock and bull.

And Sir Alex has an archetypal disciple in his heir at Manchester United, David Moyes. The current favourite of David is to vehemently deny all of the evidence that suggests his team was not the best 1 out there. Moyes will in fact utter illogical praise of his side, even when they have been comprehensively beaten. In doing so he might seem like a clueless idiot, but that will be the story – His players meanwhile will be shielded to some extent from the potentially wounding realisation that they have in fact been playing like clueless idiots.

Belief in your self is a valuable commodity – It’s how you turn from a horse into a Jaguar. Apparently it’s also how you wean, which may be a surprise to millions of breastfeeding women but there you go, because José managed that transition in a week. He even went so far as to start off the press conference, at which he described Manchester City as a Jaguar, with a brutal dismissal of the horse talk:

‘It’s time to kill the horses.’

I hope he was being metaphorical and I’m almost certain from the resultant chuckles that he was – He was merely announcing that the horse claptrap had outlived it’s usefulness – It was in danger of becoming a pastiche and so was metaphorically run over by an F-type Jaguar.

I can be specific about the model of Jaguar because José was the guest of honour at the launch of the F-type scant days after his reference to the car-maker and he subsequently became the 1st in Britain to own the much-hyped coupe. The timing is uncanny.

The good news is that Chelsea are themselves not a literal Jaguar – Either the brand of car, nor the cat. If in fact they were to be a cat, they’d most likely be a lion, as that is the symbol on their crest. Even that is just a symbolic link though – Lions are not native to London and they don’t do so well at soccer. Soccer is just not what a lion is about.

They are about taking a leak from time to time though and I’m wondering if 1 of the big-maned cats in the crest relieved himself on José Mourinho’s branded club jacket. The garment would be fashionably black so you’d hardly notice and so I reckon the smell could’ve been unwittingly ironed in.

Happens to the best of us.

These Old Tomcat Feelings You Don’t Understand

  1. I imagine that it’s very difficult to stay in one piece or as you intended when each day begins. Just me and the wife so we keep ourselves intact, clothes clean, etc. That being said, we have a tendency to wear black and with all the snow and salt on the roads and our cars, we sometimes look like zebras. By the way, we have started to thaw and melt here. And, I actually watched some cricket on my phone the other day in honor of Longworth 72’s passion for the sport. I still have NO idea what’s happening but I’ll get there.

    • Good to hear that it’s warming up there. To be honest I’ve never experienced snow or ice in any quantity sufficient enough to warrant salt, so it sounds novel to me. I’m guessing it gets real tiresome quickly though and you’d be looking for warmth as much as we’re looking for cooling down here.

      My only advice for the cricket is to suggest that it is best viewed with a beer and some salty snacks, while lazing on a couch. It will make sense then.

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