Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Best Smirk We Have Ever Seen



This well earned smirk, caught on film.


The car slides to a halt. All systems fail.
A few hours later I am happy because I can move my head.
But I was all ready very happy.
These events are not directly connected.
Or they are.
Shall I begin with a beginning?

The Chap, known then as Boy; although his sister being seven years his senior often led to the absentminded title of Maid, and I would pretend I had said Mate; since the age of four, had wanted to be a carpenter.
Had his own tools, collected from birthdays, from approving relatives.
Had graduated to power tools.
Eight years an intended carpenter, this Boy, until the age of 12 brings him to a bigger school and a reconsideration.
Carpentry will be a hobby, now, he says, he might be bored with it otherwise. He will become a Naval Officer instead.
Okay. Mum is fine with supporting her children. Some things like committing atrocities she would not support, but this urge seems humanitarian.
He mentions (in this order) disaster relief, big ships, artillery, a good uniform (but not so much the one with the shorts and long socks) a regular pay cheque.

Over years by turn (outside of home) he is patronised, teased, almost told not to dream lest it bring failure.
Maybe if this was you, you didn’t mean it.
Perhaps you did.
But whether you present yourself for repentance or a punch in the face (from me, he is too busy, I will choose a knuckle-punch btw) it matters not. You matter not.
Undistracted, he pursued this goal. Afraid of failure, yes. But quit not.

Meanwhile his mother sits and taps a keyboard on a succession of mostly improvised desks.
She is a writer so she gets the fear of failure do it anyway approach.
She is me, who writes in the third person. Everyone says not to do that. Lol.
(Never lol either!)
I am not a cult of personality girl.
I am about character.
If you are about character, it will show. Regardless.

Click back. 9th July 2015.
At the British Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, UK
A rain of fine spiders, new hatched, spin over us, the audience, them, the participants.
34.8 degrees, the thermometer shows.
Hot lines of almost officers in woollen suits and simmering caps hold up swords.
Helicopters are showing off.
There’s even a side story featuring Eddie Izzard who looks fantastic in heels and navy blue.
We cannot be star struck today though: only eyes on Chap and his new sword.
Clouds and breeze make brief visits. The heat holds. Someone will faint, or several. There are bets on it: 15, one person reckons. Nine in the last batch, we learn.
We can see our Chap clearly and how his face goes pale. Clammy pale.

Twice: twice he falls in the heat!
He is not the only one, just the stubbornest one.
He will not be persuaded to the shade.
Twice he unkneels and puts back his cap.

[Meanwhile this writer mother of his is distracted. She is not one for giving in either but what she doesn’t know is that one of her neck vertebrae is misaligned. Years of ill fitting desks plus that overly aggressive game of swingball… yes, more dangerous than you might have thought… has knocked out, bunched up, turned muscles to bullies, pinching up nerves. And sleeping in a tent (having cleverly spliced this week and a low budget with a camping holiday) which usually she loves. Not that she gives it too much thought on the 9th July. Well she tries. Not a wimp. But this really hurts. But how pleased she is, how proud, how glad! ]

All those doubters and twice the weather couldn’t rout him.
Good work Chap. Characterful.

He marches past: that is the best smirk we have ever seen.
Mr gets a picture of it: it’s a favourite.

Mum turns like Herman Munster; does anyone remember him? Like she is back braced.
Smiles for photographs.

And the next day she is useless, packing up camp. Tired. Can hardly move.
Says to her self, I will be mindful still. Hear the peacock in the park make his cry. Taste the coffee.
This is a fine test of mindfulness.
I am glad to be here.
Mr says he will drive his car behind hers, in case the pain is too much.

But when the car stops, when the dials slump and nothing will respond at all and the traffic is heavy, she snaps: is this a reflective joke, you mechanical fool?
Wake up car!
Into the hedge the car is slid.
People who are not good at guessing gesticulate. But this is funny; I’ve just parked here for no reason, is that what you think? This hedge is so awesome I just had to get closer!
Mr pulls up, puts on hazard lights. Phones the rescue service. An hour or so, he is told.

Ah well. There is a grass bank and we have picnic chairs.

The car is not as expensive to fix as it could have been.

There is an appointment free the same day at the surgery. One cranial manipulation later the pain is on the way out.

Note to all selves: from niggle to excruciating, life offers experiences. You deal with these as you deal with them.
Throw yourself at it. Pick through it.
Maybe you’ll learn what works: then do that.
In the interaction, this is how your life is lived.
And this is what will decide how your story ends.

Not circumstance.
Character.



Before the parade.
Here's Eddie.
Our Chap is 3rd row back, 2nd body in.
Our Chap assumes the faint-without-impaling safety kneel down position.
34.8 degrees hot.
And marches off.
Post-smirk smirk with sword.

6 comments:

  1. Courage Madame! It is the sheer weight of the future pressing. He'll be fine. Your presence was important.

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    Replies
    1. Had I died that day I would have insisted on attending! He will be fine, of course, but then he's had some very good training :-)

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  2. No smirk was ever more well-deserved. Bravo!

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  3. Delighted to read of his success and that you ended up OK after parking in the hedge.

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  4. The hedge was ok too :-) Thank you Jo!

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