Sunday, 6 December 2015

A second try at automatic writing

I'm in the mood - feeling the inspiration. A glass of wine, I close my eyes and wait to connect... Waiting for the channel to open... Here it is... Let it run –

Alwyn called me to the front parlour window. “Look toward the steeple! Look” I looked across at the steeple over the way, bunting blowing in the wind. “'Course, there... it's...” But then I could only see the swallows swooping and gliding. Time to clear up after tea. Men are hurrying up the street. “Come on! We must follow them!” Excitement, like a big football match, or the circus coming to town. Them posters have been up for days. Alwyn's rushing upstairs, combing his hair as he runs, with an eager smile. “Come on! Hurry!” he shouts from his room.

I'm in the hall lacing up my boots and Mam's laughing at us with the tea tray with all the tea-things in her hands. The house seems small with so much commotion going on. “Never you mind!” I laughed, answering the usual question that Mam hadn't asked us yet. Alwyn comes thumping down the stairs, wearing his school blazer. “Windy out,” he says. The door opens out onto the pavement and we join the merry band. Some are on bicycles, but most are walking briskly or running.

Across the road, the George Tavern is emptying. Everybody's heading to the Rec. The Recreation Ground. We pass the church at the end of our street, crossing the tram tracks, there's a throng surging through the Rec gates –

[At this precise moment, my reverie is interrupted by the doorbell ringing. It's someone looking for our next-door neighbours and ringing ours by mistake. My train of thought has been disturbed. I get up, walk to the kitchen, return and - PAFF! There it is... I have it! Back again...]

– and yes, above us – there it is – a rising and falling note, like the engine of an motor-omnibus – it's an aeroplane! Up in the sky, white wings catch the weak sunlight against billowy clouds and we watch it circle the town before coming down lower and lower... the men had roped off a big part of the field where we were not allowed to go, and we watched the aeroplane getting closer and closer, lower and lower it came and it was getting louder and louder... but then... I can't see any more over the heads of all the people gathered neither can Alwyn, and so we push forward, nipping through the crowd to get to the front. I can see policemen on duty. And look! There's that one that cuffed Alwyn for taking short-cut through cemetery last week!

We crawl through beneath a forest of people's legs – we're desperate to see it. We get right up to the ropes, getting our knees scraped and muddy. The aeroplane was looking like it's going to land. Then suddenly there's a roar as its engine speeds up again and it lifts up again, wobbly, skywards... The pilot waves at us, and everybody cheers! My, it's blowy – the wind is pushing the aeroplane over to the left, but the pilot's coping. He makes another lap in the sky, flying over the town and out towards the sea before turning in again, getting closer and closer... this time he puts the wheels onto the grass, the aeroplane bounces a few times then rolls to a stop. The engine splutters and falls silent. A cheer rises up! The policemen dash forward to protect the aeroplane, and following them, the crowd surges towards it from all sides of the Rec. Alwyn and I race like it's sports day.

The aeroplane looks complicated from up close. “Stand well back!” orders a policeman. Indeed! I can see why! The aeroplane looks not only complicated by very, very fragile. It's all wire and wood and bicycle wheels and white canvas. A man from the newspaper is standing there taking notes and a photographer holds up his big camera to take a picture. Then another reporter and another photographer burst through the crowd, panting. The smell of petroleum spirit fills our nostrils. The pilot stands up in his seat and the crowd start cheering – he takes a bow and takes off his silk scarf and waves it – the photographer asks him to wait as he changes the plate. The pilot jumps down to the ground and takes a bow, gives the side of the aeroplane a pat, like you would to a faithful horse. Again everybody cheers. Alwyn points to the words painted on the side “Wake Up England!”. England most certainly has.

In the distance, I can hear the honking of an motor-car as it makes its way slowly towards the aeroplane, parting the crowd. In it is the Mayor and his wife! Their chauffeur drives right through the police cordon and stops sharp just behind the aeroplane. The Mayor steps out to congratulate the pilot, shaking his hand vigorously. Another photograph. I'll ask Mam to buy the papers on Monday! Another motor-car approaches. Some men jump out with cannisters full of petroleum and a step-ladder. They go up to the fuel tank behind the pilot's seat, above the engine, and pour in the fuel. A while later, the Mayor returns to his motor-car, the pilot climbs back up into his seat, the men start the engine up, swinging the propeller behind the engine.

It fires up! Black smoke comes from the exhaust pipe for a few seconds, the propeller whizzes round so fast you cannot see the blades spinning! At the word of command, the policemen start pushing back the crowd to give the aeroplane space to move forward. It is swung round to face the wind, a path is cleared.

The engine roars louder. The aeroplane starts moving, gathering speed, faster and faster it races forward, bumping along the grass until it parts company with the ground then gingerly lifting off into the sky, higher and higher, above the rooftops it climbs, then it banks to the left, then it does another circuit of the Rec, flying low. We can still make out the pilot's face. The crowd's still cheering and waving; the aeroplane straightens out and gets smaller and smaller, finally disappearing over the horizon, above the steeple and off towards Blackpool.

Alwyn and I head off home amid the crowd. We had seen Mr. Claude Grahame-White! We had seen an aeroplane! Should we tell Dad? Will he be angry? We raced back, running ahead of the crowd, everyone still excited at the event.

On the way home, we popped our heads into the George Tavern. It was nearly empty. There was Dad, sitting upright with his back against the wall with the window, cloth cap on his head, a little bit of beer left in his glass. His face was expressionless. Had he seen us? We hoped not. He'd be getting home angry. We knew that face.

The front door was on the latch. Mam asked whether we'd seen the aeroplane. “Oh yes! Whole town turned out to see it! Mayor was there in his motor-car!” “D'you see your Dad?” “Yes – at the George.” She looked resigned to her fate, got rolling-pin ready. She'd had a hard life, but was able to give back as good as she got. Alwyn and I went upstairs, got out our pencils and started drawing. His picture were nicer than mine. As always.

This time three years ago:
Poland's progress up Transparency International's ranking

This time eight years ago:
A day in Poznań

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