BY FRANCIS CROT
Sunday. Parker’s Piece, which Lisa till lately had thought “Parker’s Peace.” The sky sweeping with chewy emblems of luminance. A charnel stack of bicycles, and the usual heap of Nike and Adidas “picnic baskets.” The game hadn’t begun. Hallucinatorily cheerful panorama. The boys stood in two groups about twenty yards apart, scuffing a few footballs among them. They didn’t wear bibs – they knew who was who.
Lemon jogged over to Chris. They spoke, Chris shrugged, Lemon shrugged, Chris laughed and patted him on the shoulder.
“What was that about?”
“Got something up my sleeve. Something to add to the secret weapon. He don’t know the half of it.”
The lads took kick-off by ignoring the ball and running around with their arms held firmly at their sides. Gradually they formed four lines traversing the pitch. They were not elegant or even in synch or even, let’s be honest, doing back-flips. Skipping. Aborted toast pops. Gaz was about sixteen stone, he was doing forward rolls. Gut Heathrow for Gaz’s personal dojo, I dare you, he’d hardly learn a grace. I want you to step forward and bear part of the responsibility for this brutal chaos.
Balls are peculiar signs of courage – the only pebbles which buckle. Guts by contrast, when you appreciate how elastic they are and how they pump, gasp with duty, even in the open air . . .