Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two stories by Jon Tait

by Jon Tait

Have It

Just the steady low drone of the engines that you’re barely aware of & the water lapping against the hull as the bow cuts a wide white V through the inky sea with the sky going from black to purple to pink & grey like old bruises at dawn & distant seagulls cry while a slight chill blows in the wind that roars softly in your ears then before you know it the sun is up & starts illuminating the green scrub hills that begin looming as we sit down to a fry up & coffee & fruit juice sharp on the palate & members of the crew Thai lads in white uniforms are preparing the huge ropes as the ship starts making slow manoeuvres into the docks with blue cranes & warehouses & small tug boats then we’re down the gangplank & into a taxi with a middle-aged Scandinavian couple that speak no Spanish & look on in bewilderment as I discuss football & beers with the moustachioed driver in my bastard street-level accent & he gives me a friendly nod when we get out & they hand me a fistful of Euros then head down Las Ramblas & stop at a street stall to buy a copy of The Sun & catch up with the sports news from home before ambling into an amazing covered market in the guts of a building that is cool & dark & bustling with racks of CDs & fresh fish & tobacco then back out into the gleaming golden sunlight & beautiful mosaic signs on the curved corners of shops & Spanish flags & designer stores with gold lettering & bare wood & glass & yellow sandstone pillars & figures & ornate window jambs & an old man in a T-shirt & shorts that performs extraordinarily skilful tricks with a football at the end of the street while a little crowd gathers & applauds so I stand on watching with a plastic bag full of blue & white cartons of duty-free Regal king size & the newspaper tucked under my arm itching to cry Have it! send him crashing to the grey concrete pavement with a shoulder change & boot the ball up the road full-meat on the volley like a good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon centre-back just to see the look of absolute incredulous amazement on his tanned face.


Election time in Civitavecchia

There’s an election on in Civitavecchia Italy & little white canvass street stalls line the pavement a shower of candidate’s cards littering the car park softly flipping in the wind like the golden autumn leaves at home & the cool young long-haired driver of the Communist Party’s 4x4 election vehicle with megaphone fitted on the roof & red flags flapping out the back windows returns a clenched fist salute with a leisurely double punch to the air & a nod & as I’m walking back along the huge white concrete tripod-shaped harbour breaks thinking about the Romans that left this port to head for England to build Hadrian’s Wall I’m suddenly struck by childhood memories at my grandparents exploring among the washed-up white driftwood & orange scraps of fishing nets finding crabs in rock pools & playing in the high golden dunes & I’m pondering one summer when what I thought was a whale had washed up but it could have been any large marine mammal’s body rotting on the sand seagulls screaming & circling above & another summer a large boat was grounded & rusted away as the sea rolled in & washed over its orange-pitted hull until there was only a tangle of red metal left a swift wind blowing through the long grasses on the tops with a swish it was always cosy at my grandparents’ the low hum of the refrigerator starting up in the kitchen the warmth of the Aga & the incredible graphic design on packets of old products like Camp coffee in the pantry a dartboard on the coalhouse door my Granda’s motorbike that he used to travel to work at the pit standing against the white brick scullery wall & the comforting sad moan of the Coquet Island foghorn & the lighthouses beam on a dark night & I’m looking forward to a good plate of Gnocchi al Forno wondering if Franco Rubiu will get many votes & everything else that goes through my head at election time in Civitavecchia.

Author bio:

Jon Tait is a former sportswriter and was the press officer at now-defunct Scottish soccer club Gretna FC.

No comments: