Just before Easter, there I was zapping through the channels hoping to find something to watch apart from adverts - not always easy as Spain apparently has more commercials per day than anyone in the world apart from Indonesia and the US of A - and what should I find but an old favorite of mine: Gladiator.
Of course, its in Spanish and with no evidence of subtitles I struggle to understand what exactly is being said. But there's lots of action and I know the plot anyway so for a couple of hours I'm engrossed.
And there's one bit of the film that anyone can understand and its when Russell Crowe with his loyal band of fellow Gladiators rewrites history in the Colloseum in Rome in the supposed "Fall of Mighty Carthage" by defeating all the Roman chariots sent into the arena.
The Emperor is so impressed by the performance that he goes down into the arena to meet this famous Gladiator face-to-face. So Crowe is forced to turn to face the Emperor, remove his helmet and reveal his identity to the man who killed his wife and son and forced him into slavery. Its a scene that always sends a shiver down my spine and gives me goosepimples.
"I am Maximus Meridas, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Regiment of the Roman Army, servant to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son and husband to a murdered wife and landlord to a murdered world and I will have vengeance."
The Landlord bit is a trifle over the top and there seems to be some confusion as to what he actually said but whatever the exact words its a speech to stir the blood with the desire for vengence. Crowe spells out exactly who he is, what he used to be, the heights he reached in the world before treachery put him into slavery. And he is determined to right the wrongs done to him.
Its a piece of fiction that calls to mind that stirring speech of Churchill's in May 1940, "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Two speeches. One a contrived fiction about revenge and the other a determination to confront, and defeat, the harsh realisties of the world.
And in our tiny little piece of South London, in a place we call the Valley, all we can ask of Alan Pardew is that he finds the words and the emotion to stir his troops to do their upmost tomorrow to prove to us who they are, to show a determination to put to rights things that have gone badly wrong and a desire not to be beaten.