Thursday, 25 November 2010

An Act of Faith 3

The rest of the team had already clattered out along the changing room corridor and out on to the pitch. Selby sat on the bench, bending over his right foot and adjusting the laces on his boot. His coach stood before him, a ball under his arm.

“If you’re going to make it, really make it, in this game, you have to really want it.” The coach spoke with a vital intensity, “You have to have the game in your blood. Live it, breathe it, eat it, and sleep it. It has to take over your soul. It has to be the reason you wake up in the morning and what you dream of at night.

Being the best you can be won’t be enough. One day your mind will wander and down you’ll go. No, you have to believe you're the best. You have to make every movement, every thought on the pitch out there, an affirmation of your true belief. Your self belief.

You have to have absolute faith in yourself. No questions. No doubts. Absolute unconquerable faith. Every move you make, every angle you run, every time you connect with the ball, every time you respond to an opponent’s intentions is an act of faith

Now get out there and show me some of that faith in action.”

“Yes, Mr Watkins,” replied Selby as he finished off lacing his boots. Then he trotted out to join the rest of the under-eights on the school field. He had a slight earache but they’d put him on the wing as usual. If he ran about a bit and kept out of the way, he probably wouldn’t get hurt. They might not even pass to him.

And they were having sausages for dinner.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

An Act of Faith 2

Perceval was known throughout the county as a man of piety and devout religious principal. So scrupulous was he in his observations that his place in the front pew in St Joseph’s had been worn as thin as a wafer. He refused to replace his tattered hassock, though, remarking that the cold flags of the church floor reminded him every moment of the more onerous sufferings of others.

However his sense of religious obligation was hardly matched by his sense of direction; perhaps earthly dimensions were beyond him. So lacking was he in basic orienteering skills that the parish priest always phoned up Perceval’s housekeeper to make sure he’d got home from the service without incident.

Perceval’s stated intention to make the pilgrimage to Santiago was therefore viewed by some in the village as idiotic beyond belief. Bets were laid in the public bar as to his actual destination. Birmingham was the firm favourite, followed by Intensive Care.

The priest, a kindly man, gently put it to Perceval that perhaps it was his allotted to path to remain at home; a pilgrimage of the heart was open to everyone after all. Perceval remained adamant, his faith was his rock. He could not live with the spiritual dereliction incurred by giving way to his navigational shortcomings. They were simply a test of his faith.

So on Monday 3rd October 1983, Perceval appeared at the gate of his cottage, with a haversack over his shoulder, a plastic mac over his arm, stout boots on his feet and a scallop shell pinned to the lapel of his old Harris Tweed jacket. His housekeeper wept as she waved from the bay window as her employer, doffing his hat to all he passed, walked out of the village.

He disappeared without trace, of course.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An Act of Faith 1

Robin had watched his Uncle Andrew build the gyrocopter for fifteen years. Ever since he’d been into Uncle Andrew’s little workshop behind the old allotments.

At first he’d been too small to help, except maybe to pick up the prototype’s plans when Uncle Andrew brushed them off his workbench with an errant elbow. But as time progressed he grew big enough to hold things; important things like the best pliers or pots of glue that so often went into hiding. His speciality was finding nails, screws or staples that had fallen to the ground and lost themselves amongst the woodchips and dust. With the rumblings of puberty, it had been his task to carry the first working scale-model down to the football fields, and hold the fuel can, while Uncle Andrew readied the machine on its launch stanchion. That day Uncle Andrews’s gyrocopter had cleared the kindergarten fence and obliterated their Wendy House, but Robin’s ambitions had journeyed to the stars. He was an Aeronaut in the making.

And so, in his late teens, and still without telling his mum, Robin sat at the controls of Uncle Andrew’s gyrocopter as it sat heavily upon the site of its downscaled predecessor’s first onslaught on gravity. It was dusk; a sensible precaution because the kindergarten would be shut.

“Ready?” asked Uncle Andrew, always a man of few words.

Robin gave him a broad grin and the thumbs up.

Uncle Andrew then fired him sideways three hundred meters, at outstanding velocity and straight into the wall of the Council changing rooms, where he exploded in a fireball that could be seen twenty miles away.

Uncle Andrew pulled the plans from his rear pocket and surveyed them. He gave a ruminative little grunt and then sloped off back to his workshop.