Sven Goes to War. Part 13. Love Vigilantes
Captain Newheart, squat short and with a belly on him that hung grotesquely over his khaki shorts, a physical deformity or a secret beer drinking habit, it was never made clear, had a book on war written by a Chinese Philosopher that he always carried about his person and his speech was peppered with its pithy phrases, Wars are won not in the hearts and the minds but in the legs and the arms, To surprise your enemy you must surprise yourself, with as much expression as a 1940s telephone exchange operator, Which extension do you require?, Putting you through now sir, Hold the line.
His first act was a speech. Revolution had broken out in P. Colonel D. had been assassinated in C. The enemy were gathering their forces around V. Martial law had been imposed. F. was to to retaken at midnight.
“I don’t know about you,” said Mike Five, the fisherman, “but I’m just hearing letters.”
“J,” said Mike Three, the funny one. “G, X, Y, Y,Y.”
Captain Newheart’s next acts were:
- to increase the days in the DFA (Designated Fighting Area) from one to three full days with Further Increases on the Cards.
- to stop all CE (Community Engagement) due to it being fraught with danger.
- to instigate mandatory PT that would take place on the PG (Parade Ground) each morning.
- 25 push-ups each morning and then 50 sit-ups, 75 squat jumps.
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
- to make the wearing of clothes, the soldiers were in the habit of walking around in the nude due to the IFH (intense fucking heat), mandatory at all times*.
*“Even when we SSS?**” questioned Mike Three, the funny one, for which question he was punished by having to SSS fully-clothed for a period no greater or less than seven days.
** SSS – Soldier speak for Shit, Shower and Shave***
*** See Sven Tosier-Gumshoe’s only published book. Soldiering ALIA****
****ALIA - A Life in Acronyms
7. to make roll call mandatory three times a day.
- roll call to be called by the sound of a bugle#
#On day three Mike One said he would like to SIUCNA (Shove it Up Captain Newheart’s Ass) but Mike Two said that would be AWOAGB (a waste of a good bugle).
They all agreed DDWA (dark days were ahead).
In my memory Saltburn-by-the-Sea has become a kind of haven. You are there, I am there, we are walking along the mudflats to the cacophony of the seals.
It only amuses now me that when we were there we saw it as a prison: 1. the cold hard stares of a certain section of the fishermen, 2. that ugly scene when you kissed me in the sausage roll shop, 3. the sausage roll cage your father made you wear when he found out what our love was about.
Now I know that Saltburn-by-the-Sea is home and home is where bravery counts the most.
Be yourself where it matters.
For what is bravery in a desert, in a jungle, on a battlefield. Better defeat the enemy in your own backyard.
Stand up to the compost bin, the rainwater drain, your irascible mother collecting the eggs from the squawking chickens.
Last night Captain Newheart said that in the morning he has a big announcement for us.
We are not expecting good news.
For when a Captain speaks it is should be written in the blood of an aardvark on the body of a lynx.
Mike Three’s great-great-uncle, he tells us, was one of those men who died at the Somme. We set up here. You set up there. We fling ourselves towards each other in deadly abandon.
For the King. For the Country.
Were ever two more ludicrous concepts created?
Here is where your heart beats (I am pointing at my heart). Here is where love resides. (I am pointing at my head.)
So, ask yourself.
Would your king die for you? Would your country?
They would not.
They would only order you to kill yourself.
Yours, you know it,
Did I ever tell you about my Dead Sister? Not the existence of her for you knew that well enough. You remember, I suppose, the tiddlywinks competitions the three of us had? How you did not know a ghost could be so competitive.
Or how she so loved Elmer, her pink cuddly elephant, with it squishy feet and nose that when pulled made an actual trumpeting sound?
Or the time when she suddenly materialised (I have scolded her so many times about that) when you were balls deep in my ass and ready to blow?
But how she died?
At first we had no idea what the frequent infections, the anaemia, gradual weight loss might mean.
We put it down to our intemperate weather, teenage hormones, a broken heart (I can still not forgive Solomakhin Arkadiy Valerianovich for standing her up that evening outside Ginny’s Palace and then later, that very same evening,being seen in Chippy Chips with Lisitsyna Inessa Maximovna, ordering fish supper for two, with extra mushy peas. And we all knew what they were for!
What do you expect from the son of a mermaid and a Russian sea captain? I asked of her but she was inconsolable. And her health deteriorated.)
A restorative trip to Poulton-le-Fylde was organised.
But even that excursion to the Poulton-le-Fylde Zoo where we paid for her to hand feed the lions, and a go up to the top of Le-Flyde Tower, from where on a good day you can see the Dixon-McGurk Twin Towers of Dundalk, did not revive her.
That was when we knew something seriously was wrong and we made that fateful trip to the hospital.
I was with mum and dad when they told us.
The doctor was an Indian. He was handsome but due to some childhood illness was only able to speak by fixing a tiny megaphone to his larynx which gave his voice something of a loud computer sound.
“I’M VERY SORRY. IT’S LEUKAEMIA.”
Its path is a harrowing one.
I was with her when she died. The nurse had just visited, arranged the sheets. In the sky outside a plane had sliced the sky in two. I was holding her hand when she opened her eyes and said the last thing she would ever say, Be brave.
And have I been brave?
I have not.
For why did I let you go when I should have not?
It was a lack in me.
I should have lain down on that train track and said you were not to go.
Over my dead body.
I am not a brave man.
Whatever I am.
It was barely dawn, the sun a creeping eyelid across the horizon, when Captain Newheart asked for their attention.
For once there was no bugle.
In silence he marched them onto the beaten-sand of the parade ground. A lone donkey nuzzled the far side of the chain link fence. Two yards from it stood a sign, Watch out mines!
“Watch out mines!” said Mike Three, the funny one, each morning as he put his dick through a hole in the chain link fence and pissed copiously.
Hearts and minds,
said Captain Newheart,
our policy vis-à-vis this has failed.
The nicely nicely approach is a washout.
What we need is answers, not questions,
results, not set-backs,
not heads in the sand,
arses in the air,
Ostriches, said Mike Three. Flamingos stand on one leg.
And well they might,
said Captain Newheart, giving him a hard stare.
Then he produced a flip-chart.
This is us.
And this is the enemy.
(Flip me, said Mike Two, under his breath.)
If we attack here
and the enemy is here
we risk being attacked from our rear ends.
(pointing at arse)
(attempt at humour)
Like a flamingo.
said Mike Three. The funny one.
To firm up the firm location we need intelligence. A credible source.
(Flip me again, said Mike Two, quietly.)
said Captain Newheart,
to tell us what we need to know.
(We’re on a need to know basis, whispered Mike Three, and you know what?, I don’t need to know.
Hallelujah, said Mikes One to Five, bar three.)
said Captain Newheart,
to bring a hasty end to this war.
And Sven was back on that beach again, the Bones Brothers coming at him with a condom filled with sand, with the snapping claws of a live crab, with the rusty speculum, for looking up butt holes, Aart Jansen had stolen from his dad, the doctor, eons ago.
I’m Private Tosier-Gumshoe. 15th Seal Regiment. Identification Number 35654. I won’t tell you anything.
He was not a brave man.
Whatever he was.
Whatever he might be.
Whatever will be will be.
Que sera sera.
“I’ll go,” said Sven, putting up his hand. “Me. I’ll do it. I’ll get your hostage.”
New Order - Love Vigilantes
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