When First We Practice To Deceive …

MICHAEL HEATHERTON, GARY MORGAN, ERIC STONESTREET, GUILFORD ADAMS

The circus is in town again. Funny hats and floppy shoes are optional, not mandatory.

Once more, the wooden car with the plastic wheels, and the red nose at the front that shoots water when you honk the horn, is being sent around the track.

The clowns are waiting in the wings, ready to flip-flap onto the stage when they hear the bell. The audience hasn’t had this much fun since the last time this show rolled into town. This one looks as if it’s going to be even better. You need that with a sequel, don’t you? It’s not enough to re-tread the same old tired road. It has to be better, or otherwise you’re taking the piss out of the audience. Hollywood’s been doing that for years. The first iron rule of the sequel is that you can’t re-tell the same story. It has to be a bit … different. This one is different alright.

What are they going to call it this time? Liquidation 2? It has a ring to it.

It has to be something quirky, and some of the quirky stuff has already been done. What’s that book again? Oh yes, “Follow, We Will.” Quirky. Except …

2011186950101688296S600x600Q85And if you want an even better example … check this out ….

See what following does to you? Squished. Squashed. Splattered against the rocks. All that marching up the Marble Staircase … and that big fall off the end.

The fall doesn’t always kill you. Even in a nuclear holocaust, there will be survivors. Cockroaches. Rats. The bottom feeders always find a way to make it through the tough times. It’s everyone else who ends up well and truly gubbed.

Do as I say, not as I do (as in treating the media with contempt even as you’re sucking down their greasy coin). It’s as old as Judas’s thirty pieces of silver, but he probably didn’t spend his on fluorescent gloves. Laughing yet?

Well stop. Seriously.

Put yourself in their position for just a minute, and the laughter can stick in your throat.

These people have been lied to at every turn. By the last three boards, and now this one. By some of the most iconic figures at their club. By a media which was already way too close to the men running the show. Close enough for noses to get lodged in places you’re not supposed to put breadsticks. Yes, the lies have just kept on coming, over and over and over again. Is it any surprise that sooner or later their own “reps” would dig out the big spoons and start force feeding them horseshit? Some of them have been doing it for years. This new breed though … granted, they are more telegenic than their predecessors, but only comparatively.

(Is it just me who remembers The Big House as a reference to the jail? Perhaps he was being ironic. Or prophetic. The Big House has certainly “entertained” board members in the past. You get the feeling more of them will sample its charms in the future.)

As the man says though, it stops being funny when it starts being you.

The line-up for this particular show is one of the finest we’ve seen in years. There are so many of them on stage right now, it makes it difficult to work out who’s who. Chuckles is there, for sure. You can see those big Yorkshire hands of his, waving frantically.

Remember Chuckles? I love Chuckles. Never was a man more aptly named. If you need reminding, there’s a wee flashback video you can check out.

Then there’s Ally. What a (judge of) character! Easy to work with. Always has a kind word to say about the people on the board, whether it’s Whytey, Chuckles or Craig Mather. Until he doesn’t.

Funny how his mates in the media never call him on that. You get the feeling all that saves him from being asked those questions is his success as a manager …

Oh wait …

Then there’s Paul, who doesn’t want to own the club (that would involve spending money) just a seat on the board. (Where he can draw a lovely directors salary for being a “Rangers Man.”) And Jim, who has spent £4 on shares and thinks that entitles him to lead a shareholders revolt. Where the Hell was he two years ago?

He could have bought the whole club and had enough left for a can of Super Lager, to celebrate the purchase.

There’s Kieran Prior, a whizz-kid, if you believe the press. A man so intelligent he’s the last person in the country to know there’s no money in buying a tier three football club in Scotland. Honestly! How smart do you have to be to figure it out? A club that hasn’t turned a profit since Ally McCoist was a 28 waist, in a country who’s game is so stagnant that forward motion is one step forward, two steps back, and where the media gives sports journalist awards to those who weren’t asleep at the wheel as much as they woke up a full day after the crash, upside down in a ditch.

Personally, if I was looking for a “financial guru” to invest on my behalf, and they offered me this guy, I would opt for someone else. Nick Leeson maybe.

There are more dirty deeds here than in the Falkirk Labour Party. There are more factions than the Con-Lib cabinet. There are more sides to this than a deltohedron, and trying to decipher intentions is a little like playing chess against an opponent you can’t see. At first you’re honestly baffled, and then you start looking for an underlying strategy, until you soon realise there isn’t one, because your opposing number is three years old and thinks he’s playing snakes and ladders.

This is a rouges gallery if ever there was one, with a different spin every single day. I try to think of boards of directors with a more crooked bent, and aside from Murder Incorporated it’s increasingly difficult to find one.

Enron, maybe. Whatever happened to them?

Apparently there’s a new employee starting work soon. His appointment has been touted for months, on various websites and forums. It’s not been confirmed yet, but news has broken, and it’s generally accepted that he’ll sign up. If you’re wondering what the delay was, it’s rumoured that he didn’t meet the job specification. He does now. He’s being investigated for taking back-handers.

That’s the final qualification they were looking for.

This is who they are now. This is what they’ve become. Where once they talked of dignity, and honour, where once they talked about the respect they were due, now they have all the grace of an East End hooker, standing outside a boozer touting for business. (My mate and I bumped into her one night coming out of a well-known Celtic bar. “How much?” he asked her. “Twenty quid,” she said. “If I had twenty quid,” he replied, “I’d still be in there, instead of out here, talking to you.”)

Nowadays, nothing is beneath them. Just when you think they can’t sink any lower, something comes along that changes your mind. Cheating the rest of Scottish football wasn’t nasty enough for these people. Ripping off the tax payer didn’t quite do the job. Robbing each other of shares, of assets, didn’t make the grade and skimming off charity money wasn’t as down and dirty as they were willing go. No. They had to send Novo home without a contract, after they’d enticed him into thinking he had a chance, turning him into half a stalker in the process.

Ruthless, man. These people take no prisoners.

What you have here, what you really have, is one almighty shambles. Cast aside the red noses and the clown costumes, and you have a gathering of ghouls, a gang of grave robbers. These aren’t people interested in the long term benefit of Rangers, or of football. They are vultures, pecking at what’s left of the corpse. They are maggots, feeding off the rotting flesh. They are jackals, surrounding the remnants, ready to rip it apart until all that’s left are the bones.

There’s no way this ends well. Whoever ends up in charge, it’s gonna be all about the money, and there ain’t no room for sentiment in their kind of business. Negotiations over shareholder dividends, profits versus performance on the park, even the price of seasons tickets will all be handled with an eye on the bottom line. And the bottom line?

Of course, every pantomime needs a villain, and the Scottish press has picked theirs. Charlie Chuckles might raise all the laughs, but be under no illusions here; he’s the Lex Luther of this particular piece of theatre.

The days when he was darling of the radio stations, the golden boy in the newspaper offices, the hero of the blue hordes must seem far behind him now, although it was obvious to many of us at the time that he had missed his calling in life, and was destined, instead, for a career in stand-up comedy.

Yet, if it was possible to feel even a little bit sorry for anyone in this whole sorry mess (aside from the Rangers fans who must feel like a dead budgie being batted over a badminton net), I would feel sorry for Charles “Chuckles” Green. He has actually worked on this deal. He’s bled for it. He’s put money into it, and he went out there and sweated for every penny that was spent on the share issue.

The way he’s being demonised in the press for the same style they loved him for, or claimed to, is a little sickening.

It’s also a big red herring. Charles Green is not the problem. The people who backed him, with their hard earned cash, the people behind him, are the real issue, and let’s face it, if he’s the “acceptable face” of those people …

God alone knows who we’re really dealing with, or what kind of pressure he is under to deliver on that end.

The sympathy is tempered when one remembers the casual racism, the way he sneered at other clubs, the arrogance for which neither he nor the club is yet to apologise, the gleeful way in which he announced to the world that, strictly legal or not, he’d actually schemed and conspired to trick Craig Whyte out of his own Rangers deal.

That these people deserve each other, that they deserve to be mired in the same swap, is beyond dispute, and when lying has become so commonplace, so routine, so day-to-day that they barely even know when they’re doing it any longer, it makes you clutch the popcorn tightly and take small sips of soda, lest you become too excited when the show actually starts. And the curtain’s going up soon.

Some people think it was Shakespeare who said “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” It was Walter Scott who actually wrote the line. It comes from his wonderful work “Marmion”, a poem about treachery and deceit. The titular character’s treason is uncovered at the end, but his death on a battlefield denies his victim the chance at true justice.

Rangers Football Club died last year, and much of the justice they were due was never served. The club that grew out of those events was born amidst shame, and disgrace, and now that shame and disgrace threatens to consume them.

That is justice, of a sort, and it’s why, despite the clown suits, what we’re about to watch is more the saga of Walter White than it the tale of Homer Simpson; more Inside Job than it is The Hudsucker Proxy.

There are some in the media who would have you believe that this thing can still end well for the club that plays out of Ibrox. Whereas previous articles on this site have been sombre in tone, and entreated the Rangers fans to wake up before it’s too late, this one has a different tone because, to be frank, the chance to avert disaster has passed.

The club, its fans, its future and the reputation of the game here, as well as the survival of its leaders, is now far down a road to disaster, and has already crossed the point of no return.

Now we’re just waiting for the curtain to go up.

Now we wait for loud noises, and the coming crash.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

8 thoughts on “When First We Practice To Deceive …

  • 14 August, 2013 at 7:08 pm
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    Is it a TWO ringed Circus? Roll up, rollup…..is this the advent of The The Rangers?

    It is harder by the day to believe who is telling the truth.

    I’m glad I’m with the Green Side of Glasgow; Celtic that is.

  • 14 August, 2013 at 7:15 pm
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    Great read as usual James. It reminds me of that old adage that “you can lead a lamb to knowledge, but you can’t make it think”.
    Onwards and upwards.

  • 14 August, 2013 at 7:40 pm
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    Another brilliant read, thank you !

  • 14 August, 2013 at 10:13 pm
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    The The Rangers: Armageddon Days Are Here [Again]
    http://youtu.be/c6wa-qOb8eI

    After reading yet another excellent piece, James, there is still one question that remains unanswered. What price, exactly, did your mate haggle the East End hooker down to?

  • 14 August, 2013 at 10:14 pm
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    Hahaha his missus came and picked him up!

  • 14 August, 2013 at 10:43 pm
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    Great read , and spot on!

  • 14 August, 2013 at 11:01 pm
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    The hooker paragraph brought to mind a joke from years ago.

    Punter: How much for a w..k ?

    Hooker: £30

    Punter: How much if you’re no a w..k ?

  • 15 August, 2013 at 8:43 am
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    Wonderful insight James.
    I particularly loved your metaphor “rouges gallery”.
    One day when the truth all outs as it will there will indeed be a lot of people with red faces.
    Ogilvie, Regan, Longmuir, Doncaster, Ballantine and their inherently systematically corrupt cohorts.
    Smith , McCoist, Traynor and the other self-interested blue corner “leaders” who have sold out.
    The MSM editors and their third rate hacks who deserve their inevitable commercial declines.
    Petrie, Lawwell, Milne, and the complicit club heads of ALL the SPL clubs.
    Salmond and other politicians who initially meddled a little but whose silence since has been deafening and shows their lack of honesty integrity and leadership.
    SDM and our business establishment who lauded and funded his egotistical roller-coaster charade that spawned this sad and sorry tale.
    They are all trying to close ranks but bit by bit the real truth will come out.
    And as for the spivs.
    They will be rich, they don’t get red faces and they will live happily ever after.

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