A Clockwork Norwich

Booing, moaning, bed-wetting: do they really matter? Richard Jeffery takes advice from A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess and says all human life – positive and negative – is welcome at Carrow Road

Many of you will have seen the film A Clockwork Orange. If you haven’t, do, but read the book first. That maxim applies to most movies adapted from novels, but in this case it’s essential. Kubrick’s film is stunning and will stay with you forever, but the imagery and atmosphere created by the author Anthony Burgess is even more vivid and stark in the book.

You don’t have to read it before you carry on with this article though; consider it homework.

Burgess wasn’t just an author, he was a polymath. A composer, academic, playwright, critic. In 1986, he wrote in a book review: “All human life is here, but the Holy Ghost seems to be somewhere else.”

He was referring to the Vatican. I interpret his words to mean that all facets of our shared human depravities, failings and faults were present in the Vatican. But there, of all places, was no evidence of the divineness of the Holy Spirit. Not a great deal of love thy neighbour, etc…

Don’t worry, I’m not going all godbothery on you, but I think that quote can be applied to the Norwich Supporting Diaspora (NSD). Part of the problem of being in the NSD, like being on LSD, is that it alters your perception of reality, heightens the intensity of experience, makes you talk rubbish to strangers and make a bit of a tit of yourself before regretting it the next day. Or so I’m reliably informed. Just say no, kids.

All human life is represented in the NSD. Male and female, LGBT and straight people, residents of Wisbech, young and old, able-bodied and disabled people, those who believe in a god and those who don’t. Shout out to the Zoroastrian Yellows! We have supporters groups from around the UK and overseas, and people of all colours support the only two colours that matter: yellow and green. All are welcome. Evenpeople from Suffolk.

From Delia downwards, we’re all just fans, equally. We all fondly pledge our pride and toast success to the city club. We all care.

But despite this amazing thing that unites us, there often doesn’t seem to be a great deal of mutual goodwill and understanding between us, comrades.

We all have differing opinions and attitudes to our support. Nobody has a monopoly on being right and all opinions are valid, as long as they are expressed in the right manner. Everyone supports the club in their own way. We are all guilty at times of thinking only we are right and judge the opinions and actions of others contrary to ours as invalid and wrong.

Another Burgess quote: “Soccer is traditionally crude, and attract roughs, drunks and roarers. It cannot be discussed in pubs without passion and obscenity.”

That was written for Time Magazine for the 1974 World Cup in Germany. Today not all of the NSD are roughs, drunks and roarers, but that passion and obscenity is there and has gone beyond the pub. It’s also now evident on social media and in below-the-line comments on articles. It’s also manifest in the taboo of to boo or not to boo. I don’t boo, what about you, do you boo or do you think to boo is taboo?

Don’t like booing? Tough. Emotions run high – as they did at the end of the Sheffield Wednesday game – and that’s how some people express themselves. Others of us are lucky enough to be able to write things that get published on the internet. Some people have a meltdown on twitter or Canary Call, or a ranty moan on Wrath Of The Barclay. Which is more valid?

Of course we should be able to argue our point and have a discussion, that’s healthy. Indeed, Burgess wrote in A Clockwork Orange: “Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.” What we mustn't do is write anyone else off as not as good a supporter as ourselves.

I’m the last to talk here really. In the heat of the moment, I’ve reacted to those around me at FCR or on twitter when they say something I don't agree with. Usually when I’ve done a McNally and had a few sherberts beforehand. I’ve always felt remorse and apologised later though, particularly to Big Roland who sits in front of me.

Here’s another quote from Burgess, who was obviously at the Sheffield Wednesday game: “Life is a wretched grey Saturday, but it has to be lived through.”

And another: “It's always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you're going.”

We are the NSD. We’re all on the same journey, and that’s the fun. Enjoy it.

Burgess also wrote in his novel One Hand Clapping: “I mean, there's little enough in this life, really, and you only find it worth living for the odd moments, and if you think you're going to have those odd moments again, then it makes life wonderful and have a meaning.”

Again, this could be written about supporting Norwich. Those odd moments of joy that keep us returning like an addict to the pusher. One Hand Clapping is not a treatise on the City Stand by the way.

So, I resolve to let booers boo, to let bedwetters bed wet, banterers bant, happy clappers clap happily, moaners moan and as long as opinions are expressed in the right way, try and see the other person’s point of view and let it slide. I’ll turn the other cheek.

Until the next time one of you dares to disagree with me that is, then you’ll get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou.

You can follow Richard Jeffery on Twitter at @twitchut