Friday, November 24, 2006

Heart Of My Heart 

Be not afraid should you hear chilling howls whistle discordantly from the rifle range as you leave the office, thoughts of home and what to have for tea playing on your tired mind; nor nervously hasten your stride as you try to remember where you left your car when, through the trees, you observe an unholy glow emanating from the ammunition store window; fret no more, stand at ease - it’s only me singing bum notes at barbershop practise.

I’ve done my audition! I think I passed! Yay me!

Heart of my heart, I love you - Sergeant Bilsborrow booms the bass part like a singing earth tremor, and on baritone Captain Bashall-Eaves croons fruity and rich as Christmas pudding - life would be nought without you - and fluttering high above, here comes Private Staining, all of eighty and not a hair on his freckled head, flitting and darting like a swallow against the darkening sky - light of my life, my darling! I love you! I love you! - and me singing lead, remembering my words and almost tuneful - I can forget you never! - and all three are staring into my eyes, straight into them, and the vocalising rings powerful and true, as we swoop together in tight, insistent harmony - from you I ne’er can sever! - and it briefly occurs to me that to more puerile eyes this could all seem just a little bit, you know, homoerotic - Say you’ll be mine forever! - but there’s no time for that, because this is amazing, I’m singing barbershop! we could be the Be Sharps! and now my brothers in arms and me take one last deep breath before we make the final push for the big climax, safety catches off, triggers cocked, take aim, pause two three and - I Love You!!! - and then we are spent.

The ammunition store is silent. Captain Bashall-Eaves looks at Sergeant Bilsborrow, who looks at Private Staining. Outside, the wind rustles through crisp, fallen leaves. Next door they are drawing the raffle. I am gasping for breath.

After an eternity which lasts all of four seconds, the Captain puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Good job, lad. That’ll do,” and this is one of the top three proudest achievements in my life, up there with the time me and Girlfriend built a summerhouse, and when I met Girlfriend in the first place, and my head is buzzing with mad idiot joy, and I want to yell “That was fun! Do it again! Do it again!” but instead I just shrug and say quietly “Oh good. Cheers,” and we return to the warm chamber of the rifle range where my new compadres are comparing Tom Finney with Stanley Matthews and Alan Shearer and supping pints of bitter, and later on when I’m driving home, and frost is glinting on the bypass, and the precise stars are shining like new pins against a black velvet curtain, I realise I don’t know if I’m coming or going but feel like I might just finally have arrived.

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