“If you’re wondering whether I can handle
All the pressure, I can burn the candle at three ends……”
When I was at college in Liverpool, a few years ago now (*coughs*), I used to turn out for the football (soccer) team. I always loved playing but, by this time, my ankles were beginning to let me down. I broke one in a freak training accident about a month before my second year exams. Around six months later, in my first or second game back, I went over on the other ankle and damaged the ligaments around it. Bugger this, I thought. I don’t think I played any more 11-a-side games for the remainder of my college days after that, anti-social character that I was.
Before then, I often declared myself unavailable anyway, especially when the team was travelling any distance to play another institution, as I knew this would involve some serious drinking games with the lads after the actual match. I admit I did my fair share of drinking at college and it was a hard culture to avoid growing up in Liverpool, but privately I never liked it. Still don’t.
These recurrent absences became a joke amongst some of my footballer mates, who began to apply the nickname “Not Available” to me on a regular basis (a bit like Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson from Monty Python).
Whenever a team sheet went up on the notice board, for an away game, I would frequently write my lovely new moniker next to my real name, to publicly announce my lack of commitment. It got to the point where as soon as any team sheet went up, with me on it, someone would write “N/A” up there for me before I’d even seen the notice.
The football organisers largely gave up on me after a while, but I still put in a few more appearances. I feel that this touchy subject was at the back of my mind, when I came to put together “Available For Selection”.
The musical inspiration for the song came from a lot of John Lennon’s “A Hard Day’s Night” output, when he was writing some unbelievably great stuff. Things like the film’s title track, “Any Time At All”, “When I Get Home”, “You Can’t Do That”, “I’ll Cry Instead”. For me, Lennon was noticeably on his game in 1964, continuing on into the “Beatles For Sale” album with “No Reply”, “I’m A Loser”, “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” and subsequently “I Feel Fine” as a single. As a disclaimer, I’m sure Paul helped on many of these but I think they were mainly John’s.
Lyrically, I wanted to shoehorn in several sports clichés that the TV pundits here in the UK often fall back on. Gems such as “putting your body on the line”, “handling the pressure”, “a matchless armoury”, “back to do the business” – you get what I mean. I feel the marriage of banal sports commentary and Beatle-ish structure works quite well in this instance. The solo was another occasion I miked up my amp at home. Honestly, I tried my best picking times to record when the neighbours were out.