Cleaned myself: 1
Monkey see, monkey do: 0
Tics: don’t ask
Believe in God? Oh God, yes.
YTLH: 2 – ish
I haven’t eaten all week and I wake all weak. So mother cooks me up one of her specials, posted elsewhere here, which is essentially a Great British Breakfast deep fried in boiling fat. It’s to set me up, but all it does is to see me leaving the house yet more bilious.
There are 22 matches of 20 minutes each to accommodate, so we start early, without any real crowd, but we are glad to get it going so that by the time they start to arrive we are into the swing of it, and there’s something of an atmosphere. Plus, as the competition advances, teams are eliminated and they turn into spectators too. I brief our announcer who has brought a mobile PA on the back of his Landrover, so that his commentating, and cueing up the action for the competition, becomes the backbone of the event, and allows me to slide off into virtual glad handing and social distancing managing. He’s a good find the announcer, and he’s happy to see his mission crept beyond the rugby into all the other stuff, like imploring everyone to enter the tombola and reminding them of the time of the draw. He ends up running the show. Besides social distancing, I come to see my main role as keeping the photographer away from Big Tooth’s hand painted signs.
I was standing in my position by the bouncy castle when Mini Clubman and Mrs arrive. They stand next to me and say nothing, as if, for a moment, we all proudly drink in the vista of this great thing of which we are all a part. Luckily for me, their great pear-shaped lump of an offspring, Orville, races up to us in his batman outfit, as usual, about twenty yards in front of the troupe of children he’s leading, and our moment of silent collegiate pride is ended quickly.
He grabs his drinking cup from his mother and after taking three long draws on it, he declares to both parents that he is, ‘close to his time as a sexual being.’ Mrs Clubman catches my eye then looks to the ground and stifles a giggle; Mini Clubman merely looks at the ground. Orville shouts to his followers, ‘to the castle,’ and they speed off away from us. Mini offers an embarrassed smile, and I worry about overcrowding on my castle. He’s ageless, Orville. He could be seventeen.
I get a strange feeling in my stomach, and I catch myself wondering, slightly jealous of Orville really, about how much more I’d have enjoyed my life if I’d lived it like it was a complex game, like Pirates, or large scale hide and seek, in which we all implicitly understood the rules and felt safe within them.
Our second team captain, Cartmel Leg, comes over and says to me, ‘got your kit Dickie? One of ours is injured and another’s cried off. You’ll only have to stand on the wing.’ Fortunately for me, I don’t, and I have official duties to perform here, so there’s no chance of running home for it. Mini Clubman says, ‘my lad’ll do a job for you.’ We all look at him like he’s got another son that he hasn’t told us about. Cartmel says, ‘don’t spoil his fun, I’ll get someone who’s been knocked out early,’ and leaves us.
I want Mini and Mrs to leave too because I get a feeling of descent in my intestines. I look up and see that the clubhouse is far too far away. I wouldn’t make it doing that stiff legged walk thing for beyond 200 yards. I concentrate my gaze on the silent Mini Clubman, not talking myself either, sending thought waves to him to say, ‘you are hated. Leave now.’ Still he stands there. I can evoke official duties as an excuse but that would only remove me ten yards to the front of the castle, in their view and sight still. Another urge comes, and now I know that it won’t wait. I think of the Elixir cutting through all the emulsified fat. It’s too late now. I tell them that I have to check on something, and mince off to the back of the castle. I’m not quite out of sight to anyone who’s newly arrived at the far end of the car park, but I’m sufficiently hidden to feel confident in pushing down the shorts as soon as I’ve turned the corner and throwing myself into a squat. There’s another health and safety issue to deal with now, but it will wait. I have fresh grass on hand, and relative calm in which to gather myself together again. The manouevre is not quite finished as I hear a rugby ball, just converted, come bouncing nearby. I pray for it to bounce away from me, but all my prayers seem just to draw it closer as it skips and hops across the car park next to the castle. ‘Please God, please don’t let anyone come and collect it.’ I persuade myself that they’ll leave it for me to bring back, and then that I’ve heard the whistle again, meaning they’ve restarted with another ball.
I hear footsteps on the gravel, then a horrible scream. It’s coming from the castle behind me, but it’s an adult voice. There seems to be a flurry of activity. People involved, I feel the weight of adults on the castle, and I look up to see if I’ve been witnessed from the ramparts. I pull up, fasten up and rush out to join the real world again. Something has happened, and it seems not to be me. People are rushing from the other side of the pitch, someone’s down, there are yells, people shouting to phone an ambulance, a body lies inert on the ground as another delivers the kiss of life. It’s a child on the floor and a parent trying to revive it. Unsuccessfully.
Cause of death, suffocation. Orville laid on top of one of his playmates and squashed her to death.
‘I thought you were here to watch out for accidents,’ said Roger as the ambulance left the ground. I say nothing. Like I’d have been able to do anything if I’d been there. The Clubmans were there. I am sufficiently in charge of my emotions that I know that too speak now in my own defence is wrong, and will implicate me in my negligence all the more.
The crowd stays for some reason, and all I want to is for them to leave and allow me to clean up the site. The police arrive, talk to a few people, including me, then take Orville away with them. Then Mini Clubman and his wife take the long slow walk back through the crowd which parts for them, and they leave the place in which only a moment ago they felt safe and welcome
*thanks to Feliphe Schiarolli for the summer fair image.