Saturday Titfers

As true today as it’s always been….

Unknown Football ground photographed somewhere or other, circa dunno. Probably not the Valley.

Unknown Football ground photographed somewhere or other, circa dunno. Probably not the Valley.The bloke near the bottom right-hand corner seems to know the cameraman.

In a quiet side street of the charming hamlet of Charlton, (as in ‘Charlton Athletic Nil’), London, SE7, once stood a little pub called The Valley, named after the local football team’s home ground. A pretty unremarkable little boozer, which my brother and I used to go in for “just the one” at lunchtime on match days (we were supporters, you understand, not players. The players were in the boozer across the road).  It was suitably scruffy, unknown to traveling opposition supporters, and mercifully free of the formica and stainless steel decor favoured by the Slug and Pianos, the All Bar Funs and the Trout n Tillbox pub chains so popular with the yoof of today.

But the feature of this pub which will stay with me forever was an old photograph on the wall. Or to be precise, a photo so large it stretched across two walls, floor-to-ceiling, in the main bar. It showed life as it was 60 years ago, a life sadly no longer with us. The photo at the top of this post, similar to the one in the pub, will give you an idea of what I mean.

Pictured was of the old, massive, main terrace at Charlton’s ground, presumably photographed just post-war. Several things struck you when you looked at the picture: That they used to sell-out home games; Some of the supporters were smiling; No-one was kicking seven shades of shite out of anyone else; and everyone in the photo was male.

But there was something else: of the nigh-on 20,000 people in the photo everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was wearing a hat. Be it a trilby, a flat cap, or whatever, EVERYONE wore a hat. Question: when the time came to throw your hat in the air in celebration of Charlton scoring a goal (quiet at the back!) how did you get your own hat back? It must have been carnage.

I have a particularly big swede and I suspect I would have often walked home with someone else’s cap, 3 sizes too small perched, at a jaunty angle, on the top of my head, while some other poor little sod wore my one, having to walk four yards before the hat moved.
Charlton Athletic beating Liverpool FC 3-0 (yes, honestly), The Valley, December 1959. Charlton Goalie, Willie Duff, scrambles to clear some smudges from the photo.  Not a dry hat in the house.

Charlton Athletic beating Liverpool FC 3-0 (yes, honestly), The Valley, December 1959. Charlton Goalie, Willie Duff, scrambles to clear some smudges from the photo. Not a dry hat in the house.

In 1953 Charlton beat Middlesbrough 8-1 which presumably meant that some of those present changed hats 8 times during the match. I wonder if after twenty minutes you ended up with a real corker of a titfer you just buggered off home and sod the result? Were you refused entry to the ground if you were hatless? What if your chapeau was a birthday present but the bloke standing 7 yards away caught it during the melee after a late equalizer? My mum would have gone Garrity if I returned home without it.

Perhaps it’s only me, but it’s something that’s always bothered me.
The pub’s not there now. Demolished to make way for yuppie flats, a Costa Bundle Coffee bar or somesuch. Gone the same way as epidemic hat-wearing, a thousand proper boozers around the country, and home goals at The Valley.

(originally published by the Sharp Single as “Saturday Titfers” in March 2009. And we’re still waiting for a home goal— The Ed).

These Could Work (Knock on Wood)

A special female underwear that features anti-sexual harassment is on sale in Thailand. The underwear comes with an artificial penis inside. Its designers claimed that this underwear can prevent woman from being sexually harassed.
People’s Daily Online 人民网


Reminds me of….no , I won’t say it.

I can scotch the rumours here and now that I was the model for these.


The Sole Man

Bought a pair of shoes once. Doc Martens. Lovely they were. Then after five days the sole of one came away from the upper, under the arch. Less than happy, I popped them into a bag and walked up to the shop from where I bought them in pursuit of a replacement pair or at least a refund.

The shop wasn’t one of those swish, poncy, boutique affairs, full of little girls selling slingbacks to old ladies, but more of an emporium: a functional, no-frills sort of place which sold what my old man would call “working” shoes and clothes. No women were anywhere to be seen. I was one of the few therein not wearing overalls.

There was a bloke who I presumed to be the guvnor arranging a display of shoelaces as I approached the counter.
“Hello mate,” says I to Mr Shopkeeper “I bought these shoes here last week and, look, this one’s split at the seam,”
The bloke took my shoe in his hands, holding it at the heel and toe. He looked at it for a second, noticing the split down the side, then flexed it, looked at me inquisitively before returning his attention to my right size 9. He turned the shoe over, then flexed it again while studying the sole. Then he looked up at me again to deliver his verdict.

“You’ve been bending your feet”
” ‘scuse me?” I spluttered.
“You’ve been bending your feet when you walk” he repeated, without a glint of irony.
“Well how do you walk around, then?” I demanded to know. I walked round in a circle, lifting my knees as if I were wearing flippers. Demonstration over, I returned to meet the shoe expert eye-to-eye.

“You got any that can cope with a spot of foot-bending, then?” I enquired. But he was not playing my game. He again picked up my purchase and continued his flexing routine.
“I can have a go at mending it.” he offered ” I reckon a hot knife should do it.”
Have a go with a hot knife ???” I retorted, incredulously “These are brand new, mate. They cost me 30 quid. Each !”

He clearly didn’t get it. We argued the toss over whether the fault lay with the manufacturer or some physical deformity that I had been, up to then, blissfully unaware of. I wasn’t in the mood.
“You know the phrase ‘the customer’s always right’ ? Well I’m him ! ”

I could tell he was doing me the biggest of favours when he opened the till to refund my money. I half-thought he might offer me the money back on just one, as only one shoe had split. We hurrumphed at each other as I left the establishment, £60 back in my wallet but two shoes worse off.

The shop is, amazingly, still in business and by all accounts thriving. I walk past it every now and then, remembering not to bend my feet as I do so.