Monday, 15 May 2017

TODAY - 14th May 2017

Today was a grand day.

It started early – I woke up at about 3am and then turned over and tried to sleep but I only dozed and then became fully awake when I thought I heard someone other than me breathing in the room.

I got up and watched the repeat of “Match of the Day” from the night before. It was a little taste of what was to come later, the match against Manchester United  - the last ever game at the old Tottenham ground at White Hart Lane. My beloved Tottenham.

My wife wasn’t feeling well and so she couldn't come to the Forum Discussion event at the Montefiore Hospital as part of the exhibition of “Over the Hill”. In the meantime, I ironed a shirt and got ready to go. It had rained during the night and early morning but, as I stepped out of the house, it was sunny and everything felt fresh and clean and washed as I drove to the Hospital. I parked outside and was about to cross the road when I was tooted by Julia Horbaschk and her husband, Mark in their flash black 4x4 which they had been given as a courtesy car whilst their own car was being repaired.

I love Julia. She can be wonderfully loud and outspoken at times but it all comes from a good place as she is a very warm, gentle and caring person and very funny too. Mark is a very lucky man and I am proud to call them my friends. I entered the reception area of the hospital and the photographs looked good – some of the frames and labels were slightly wonky but, for some reason, I did not want to straighten them up.

Julia, me and Katariina

I was met by the lovely Tom Collins, who has been so helpful in preparing and hanging the exhibition, and he had already started moving the sofas to clear the space for the discussion. We gradually got everything set up and Nicolas Laborie arrived looking very handsome followed by Cathy Pyle, looking very beautiful. Gavin Weal, the hospital’s commercial manager, stopped by to say a quick hello. He had not intended to do so but I suppose he couldn’t help himself. He looks after the place very well.

The discussion went very well. Not all the people who had booked came but that meant it was an intimate chat and between I guess about 16 or so people. Each of the photographers spoke about their experience of working with me and it was then that I began to feel awkward but nicely awkward. I felt that a fuss was being made about me and yet it was the work of the photographers which made the project what it was. We ended the discussion with the slideshow of the images set to Madness’ song “House of Fun” and everyone applauded. It had been a lovely couple of hours and in some way, validated my decision to end the project. I said earlier that I wanted to put it into a box, tie ribbon around it and put it up on to a shelf and then bring it down every so often to wonder at the lovely times I had had with these people. And today was just such an experience. I opened the box and the magic created by the project burst out and sprinkled over the audience like fairy dust. People said some very kind things but I could not have done it without them.

Me and Viveca

Viveca Koh had come and thought that I had not recognised her but I had and she joined us at the pub later with Katariina Jarvinen, Julia, Mark and the Wares family (Dave’s photograph is in the show). We had a drink and chatted about this and that and then went out separate ways. I returned to my car with Viveca and she gave me the warmest and huggiest of hugs. I drove home feeling wonderful.

Then I sat down to watch Spurs and, as usual, they put me through the ringer. They played pretty well but almost let United come back from the dead but, in the end, they hung on. . The noise made by the crowd was deafening and then, at the end, the pitch was invaded and it took some time for the fans to be persuaded back to their seats. Then, as the rain poured down, they announced a long line of former players, Berbatov, Hoddle, Steve Archibald, Garth Crooks, Tony Galvin, Terry Dyson and Terry Medwin (both of whom I have interviewed) Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean, the Allens (Les, his son Clive and his nephew Paul), Pat Jennings, Erik Thorsvedt, Gary Mabbutt, Mike England, Phil Beal, Ardiles and Villa, Cliff Jones, Jimmy Robertson, Joe Kinnear, Alan Neilsen, John Pratt, Mark Falco, Justin Edinburgh, Micky Hazard, and loads more. I called my wife into the room as a tenor began to sing ”Glory, Glory, Hallejuliah” and the crowd joined in as tears ran down my face (as they are doing now as I write this) and I said my own goodbye to this wonderful ground, where I have had so many happy times..

But the day wasn’t over yet. It finished with a speech at the Bafta TV Award ceremony given by Joanna Lumley who was awarded the fellowship. She had been preceded by some lovely contributions by Michael McIntire (who seems to have a genuinely nice and happy soul), Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Sarah Lancashire, who in her speech thanked her fellow nominee, Claire Foy, for giving her the best ten years underneath the duvet. But it was what Lumley said and the way she said it which made my day. She brought the whole audience together in her arms and said “I love you”

And, as my character, Alice from Paris says, “When people ask me what is the greatest thing in life, ‘Love’ is the answer”.

Yes, it was a grand day.

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