Dear Hugh

Writer responds to readers who "took the time out of their no doubt busy schedules to post their reactions" to his previous article.

seth freedman 88 (photo credit: )
seth freedman 88
(photo credit: )
Dear, dear Hugh - where to begin? Maybe I should start by thanking you for making my day, as I can honestly say that you (along with the more anonymously titled MKD, Wibble and US Arsenal Fan) provided me - and my friends - with a great deal of pleasure through your posts on the JPost message boards. I feel that it is only right, therefore, to repay some small part of your kindness with a few words here…. [For those of you who aren't named above, this essay is the follow up to "World Peace Can Wait"- published on the day before Arsenal took on Barcelona in the Champions League Final in Paris on May 17th. The aforementioned foursome took the time out of their no doubt busy schedules to post their reactions to the piece on the JPost website. Set out below are their diatribes in full: Arsenal Hugh - UK 05/17/2006 17:04 Given the fact that you don't give a toss about the game why not give the ticket to a real fan who will appreciate it. Maybe it will help shrink your jet-sized ego. If there's any justice in the world you'll lose your ticket on the way to the stadium. Hope you and the team get stuffed. Pity, not envy US Arsenal fan 05/17/2006 16:54 It really doesn't matter that the author, Mr. Freedman, is well aware of, and even declares, his arrogance - he is still a first-class arse. Why is JPost publishing this nonsense? There is no insight into the fans or the game, just the bratty opinion of a self-confessed...brat. I'd say "enjoy the game, Mr. Freedman" but by your own admission you are incapable of enjoying any of the simple pleasures of life. I am an Arsenal fan, I too had access to tickets (but am not going, for family reasons), but I am looking forward to watching it in a local pub, and sharing the joy of the 'zealots'. I don't envy you, Mr. Freedman, I pity you - there you are, standing in front of the Mona Lisa (or the Taj Mahal, or the Grand Canyon...), but you are blind. Pathetic MKD - Israel 05/18/2006 00:13 Pathetic adolescent prose. Not satire, humour, irony or insight. As previously, embarrassing, amateur, juvenile drivel and hopelessly out of place in what is supposed to be a newspaper of national and international repute. What we don't want at football Wibble 05/19/2006 16:21 Sir, you're just the kind of smug arrogant ignorant prat that has ruined the atmosphere at football matches. In fact, I've never come across one piece that shows someone up on so many different levels as this. Why don't you give up your tickets at Arsenal and go to the Opera. You can be just as smug (and look just as stupid) boasting there Heady stuff, I'm sure you'll agree] My readers' spelling mistakes - which I have corrected - aside, my original opinions are nothing if not galvanised after reading the above responses. I make no claim to understand the underlying thought processes that drive people to reply to a newspaper column, but it is plain to see that I have touched a nerve, a nerve that - sadly - is not really worthy of the time and effort of leaving a two-line missive on the Post's website. Political opinion - yes; religious musings - maybe; a North Londoner's arrogant explanation of why he's going to the football - surely not. That said - they replied, thus I feel duty-bound to refer to their raging in my follow-up piece on the match and the experience of joining the Arsenal fans in Paris. First and foremost - to Hugh - Arsenal did, as you so eloquently put it, "get stuffed"- so your wish came true there - though, seeing as I had already professed my nonchalance as to who won or lost, I am not sure why that was the best vengeful thought you could come up with. As for whether I got stuffed - not really, I am sorry to inform you, though it depends on your interpretation of the phrase. My "jet-sized ego" is still intact, if not more of an Airbus-sized one now, and your suggestion of giving away my ticket sadly reached me too late for me to act upon it - plus I didn't lose it, as you'd hoped - since Gucci wallets are renowned for their strength and durability and, as I didn't frequent the less salubrious areas of Paris, no pickpocket was able to get close enough to jack it. As for US Arsenal Fan, it is kind of you to say that "I would say enjoy the game… but…"- however, it is of no consequence to me one way or the other what you would or wouldn't say to me. After all - I write my piece, my editor approves it, I get paid, you get something to read, we all go home (or you do - I go to Paris and live it up in my front row seat). Your movements vis- -vis going/not going to the game yourself are also fairly irrelevant in the wider scheme of things - though your final sentence deserves some attention. I don't know, or care, who you are, but I am amazed that you think that you have the right to tell me how to enjoy a game of football (or, as you put it, the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon). Football is there for everyone - and that means the rich as well as the poor, the fair-weather as well as the die-hard - if I want to go to the game just so I've "been there, done that", then I shall - because I can. I wonder what would happen if you were in charge of ticket allocation - would only those who can show you an Arsenal tattoo across their bicep be granted access, or those who've named their first born son Thierry? If so, you'd witness the swift collapse of the game that you apparently hold so dear. For, my friend, if it wasn't for those who are prepared to cough up corporate prices for the best seats, or advertise their companies around the pitch's perimeter, the "beautiful game" would suddenly be bereft of any cash - and hence, any clout. Top players wouldn't get their £100,000 a week contracts, money could not be spent on policing or anti-racism initiatives by the clubs, and what would ensue would hark back to the hooligan-dominated era of the 70s and 80s. Times change, and with it the make-up of the fans - you wanted insight into the fans? You got it - I gave you an insight into myself - and, whatever you may think a "real" fan is, I am an Arsenal fan - and you'll just have to get used to it. Or outbid me for my season ticket - good luck. Plus, if you were looking for insights into the fans or the game - which you bemoaned as lacking in my piece - may I suggest you turn to the sports pages of any decent newspaper. Your inability to distinguish between opinion and factual articles is not really worth boring JPost readers with. MKD - whilst you evidently know how to thumb through a thesaurus and pick out what you consider to be suitable words, your sentence structure - and lack of constructive criticism - leave me very little to work with. Suffice it to say that there is evidently one editor, at least, who doesn't share your opinion and - seeing as my trip was partly financed by him and not you - I wouldn't want you to think your displeasure caused me too much worry. After all, any reader's response is better than no response - it shows that you not only read my work, but also that it was sufficiently thought-provoking and incisive to stir you to "hit back," albeit not particularly eloquently. Which just leaves the bizarrely-titled Wibble. Monikers aside, you provided one of the best responses of all - that I should rescind my Arsenal ticket and go to the Opera instead. Well, I am sure you will be delighted to know that I - and my family - have access to a box nearly every week at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and I do there exactly what I do at Arsenal. Namely, I go, I watch disinterestedly and I boast about my attendance afterwards. I've seen more performances of the opera - and the ballet - than I've seen Arsenal matches - and it is plain from your message that you can see why I do it. The event is the attraction - the minutiae about the match/libretto that I am witnessing play second fiddle every time. Good idea, though - shame I'd thought of it first. Anyway, having dealt with my interlocutors and their respective issues, I will turn my attention back to the trip itself…