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Angel (North London Forever) [Verse 1] As I walk these streets alone, through this borough I call home Upon the baron fields of Highbury 'neath the stadiums of stone Through the turnstiles at The Angel, see the homeless on the green From The Cally to The Cross, and every shithole in between Pass the church, the mosque, a crack den, and the offie on the corner See the brasses from the brothel that pretends to be a sauna Watch the bedlam in the bookies, see thе winners and the losers Seeking solacе from their sorrows in the local battle cruisers Through the madness in the market, weathered faces turn to greet ya "Hello guvnor, how's your mother?" "You alright son, be lucky, geeza" Double pie and mash and liquor, a Cuppa Rosie Lee up chap Or watch retired gangsters bicker, everyday in Arthur's cafe The little fuckers causing trouble for the cozzers make you smile You meet ya muckers for a couple, forget your troubles for a while From The Thornhill to The Hemmy, all the faces are the same 'Cause the manor might be changing, but the people still remain [Chorus] North London forever Whatever the weather These streets are our own And my heart will leave you never My blood will forever Run through the stone [Verse 2] As I walk these streets alone, through a kingdom made of Chrome I see them ripping up the cobbles, and tearing down our childhood homes I see the architecture changing, watch the history disappear And the skyline rearranging into towers of veneer But I see the remnants of the London that they thought they could erase Every time I hear the old school talk about the good old days Or every time I watch the football and have a ruby with the lads See an hoister selling clobber or a dealer shooting bags It's in the single mothers juggling a baby and a job In every single brother struggling that wound up in the dock It's in the roots and the foundations still clinging to the land It's in the bricks that built the Moreland and Popham that still stand It's in my family and my friends, in every gram and every Benz It's in the roots that we inherit when a generation ends It's in the ruins of your youth and the faces of your past 'Cause the manor might be changing, but the people always last [Chorus] North London forever Whatever the weather These streets are our own And my heart will leave you never My blood will forever Run through the stone I'm loving Angel instead Singing about Angels And so we sing the Angel every time we play now. Oh do we? I have never heard it. Ah, you see, we all know it as North London Forever and it was partially dedicated to the Arsenal but mostly to Islington, where the writer Louis Dunford grew up. I guess a lot of you, particularly in Bulgaria, would struggle to understand the full lyrics, where he goes through the good and the bad, the funny and the sad, the beliefs and the addictions, the history and its demolition, His childhood, his memories, the people that you know and that let you know you are home, amongst your own. Caledonian Road is name checked as one end And that is what North London Forever does, in a unique way that doesn’t apply to any other club that I can think of. It brings us all home to the Arsenal. It connects us all and it is actually about Arsenal, unlike most football songs, possibly the most famous being Liverpool’s You’ll Never walk alone, and Celtic’s The Fields of Athenry, neither of which were written about the clubs. It’s the people that matter And Louis Dunford truly has captured the heart of Islington and its most famous denizens, the Arsenal, with its gleaming majestic, modern stadium, set among an old London with its brick buildings, with its iconic cafes, pubs, and crumbling old tube stations, but mostly he cares about the people, some of whom have been there forever and the new generations who may also reach that status. New roots, as with all plants are constantly being created, pushing down into the soil and spreading far and wide. Kings Cross gets a mention as the other end And Nick Hornby is one such, one of Arsenal’s best known supporters with his book Fever Pitch being among the best known novels about a football club. He has three sons, all of whom have roots stretching deep into Islington stone. He took his roots out of middle class Surrey to working class Islington to be where his roots really were. As do all of us who love the Arsenal. Islington is the home of Arsenal, so we belong there too. Its stone is our stone. London slang always pulls you in like a Guy Ritchie film And I said at the start that many of you would struggle to understand the lyrics so I will go through what I can to help you appreciate it. Luckily Louis Dunford obligingly left the chorus in easy to understand and sing English, as that is the part the fans sing. The rest is beautiful, sung in a gentle style, with sweet music despite the gritty theme. He says the offie on the corner, which means the off licence, a place specifically to buy alcohol, with restricted opening hours. Where gangsters bicker And then he goes on to the brasses, a slang word for sex workers, a perennial profession since the dawn of human time, it seems. Then the battle cruisers, a slang for boozers, itself an idiom for a public house or pub. Then guvnor, an old term for a boss, still used in football for the manager and in London for a boss or even a customer. A geeza means a man and a cuppa Rosy Lee is rhyming slang for tea, the real stuff not the herbal teas beloved of the Bulgarians. Then cozzers, a corruption of copper and rozzers, both slang for police and muckers, meaning your mates, who are working class, and not afraid to get their hands mucky. Thornhill is another end And that is verse one finished. Verse two contains such gems as a ruby, which is rhyming slang for a curry, probably the UK’s national dish, and comes from Ruby Murray, a famous old time singer. Then you have a hoister selling clobber which translated means a dubious person selling, most likely, stolen clothes which in the vernacular fell off the back of a lorry. The old and the new come together bringing excitement in our unique Arsenal song And the rhyming slang lives on, passed on to immigrants and different cultures, and yes, through artists like Dunford who continue to use it to express best what it is like to walk, live and grow up in a part of London which is old and yet becoming increasingly new, just like the Arsenal. Its new home, our new home, is gleaming, expensive, shiny but is unlike our old home, in which you walked directly past houses to get there and now there are bridges. It costs a fortune to attend all matches, probably well beyond the possibilities of many people he references in his glorious epic. The locals, the poorer ones, can still gather in the many battle cruisers that dot Islington and take in that wonderful atmosphere and be a part of something that they helped create. Highbury morphed into the Emirates and yet many elements of Islington has remained the same. A glorious place to take in the Arsenal. Hemingford or Hemmy is the other end And in all, he has created a true masterpiece. When you hear its strains rising up at the start of a game it flows up through your heart, it pulls us all together, players, staff and fans. It must be an extraordinary boost to the players and I feel it has contributed to our league position and the upward path we are currently on. For those who remember the pre North London Forever days the atmosphere has changed totally. It creates an invisible link that Nikola Tesla would be proud of. It seems to come up from your toes, yes, as if the blood flows through the stone of the Emirates on massive tentacles from fan to fan instantaneously. Come and experience it. Islington is Arsenal And please listen to the full version of North London Forever aka Angel, a beautiful, poignant homage to a part of London that is a part of us, with all its messy components, and we can realise that we also have been dug deep into the greystone of Islington and Arsenal. The bricks of Moreland And yes, I do believe we are the only club to have had such a song crafted for them, because Louis Dunford is from Islington, and without Islington, what is Arsenal? And the bricks of Popham And yes, these streets are our own. ps. Perhaps we should organise a trip to see Louis Dunford play?