Title: How he falls

Author: Owen Bullock

In: Sport 36: Winter 2008

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2008

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

Conditions of use



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Sport 36: Winter 2008

How he falls

page 22

How he falls

I think I'll take out Chester next. If you look at it you'll find that he isn't happy with the work he's doing. He lives from a sense of obligation; the compulsion comes from within. He hasn't got a spouse or family to pressure him, he doesn't owe any money. He has to meet the rent, but he's flatting so it's not excessive. He lives frugally—so why the worries?

There he goes, taking on something else he hasn't time for. Secretary of the Singing Group. He can't say no. I'll make sure he has to say no to pretty much everything for the next couple of months, even sex—and his girlfriend isn't going to like that. No singing, bowling, no working late and getting sloshed on the way home, playing trivia quizzes and pool for some kind of compensation. What's he going to do with his time? Think about the direction his life is taking, that's what. I don't mean him any harm; don't take my actions as being malevolent in any way. I'm trying to help him.

Glandular Fever would be interesting, but I think the funkier viruses create even more confusion—there'll be a lot of confusion in the future. He'll get a shock when he discovers there's no treatment. He'll take that as a bit of a joke to begin with, but then he'll get frustrated at how little he can do. Where would the world be without doing? There might be a few less murders and catastrophes.

He's starting to feel it already. It's only ten in the morning and he's tired—the morning's usually his best time. He's got a headache, but knows he's not dehydrated. He's had two cups of tea and a coffee this morning. He's a tea addict and afraid of not getting enough. Perhaps this time the tea will be unpalatable and he won't be able to face the concoction. He gets up early to go for a walk and read through some study material—he's doing correspondence—but he's used to that. I bet he doesn't get up so early tomorrow and then his whole day will feel out.

page 23

He's trying to coax some sympathy out of his workmates, see if he can get Philippa, the Secretary, to do some more of his paperwork for him. None of them are really mates, just people he has to share his space with all week. The phone calls are going to be a pain today, especially the irate ones—there are always a few. He handles them well, normally, probably the best in the office. People like him, clients relax, because he listens. It takes time, but it's worth it. The boss doesn't mind. He'd route all the calls to Chester if he could, but he has to share it around for the others to keep their hand in.

You know what I find funniest? Hope. Not hope generally, it's that banal hope in things that didn't work in the past and won't work in the future. It takes him and everyone else out of the moment.

It's worse before the symptoms are obvious, when they're coming down with something—and that's when they get no sympathy. When the nose is streaming and the throat croaking and they're pouring things into themselves every half hour, that's when other people notice. But it's too late then, they don't want kind words, just to be left alone; then they offend each other. They want the kind of person who can be practical but not be chattering every other minute—there aren't many of those.

Chester's a Systems Analyst—really a programmer, but he got demoted like so many programmers. Eventually, he'll be a project manager and get paid more than both for doing less but having 'people responsibility'. He's a good trouble-shooter and sensible enough to know when he needs to consult; there are those who can help him. His mate Ken over at Clear, he knows Chester's worth spending some time on.

You know what Chester's doing today? Planning. He's really sick now but he thinks that amidst the physical inactivity he can still do some mental work. He's going to write a song in the hope that the group will use it. He'll arrange the parts himself this time. He doesn't know much in the way of theory, but at Summer School he met a composer who told him to get his ideas down, to learn just enough theory to be able to do it, and then revise. Very encouraging. It will all seem like mumbo-jumbo tomorrow.

page 24

Because he's sick, yeah he's sick
How good it is, how good it can be
Not to feel a hundred per cent or even twenty-three!

That might be his song, I'll sing it to him as he sleeps.

Oddly enough, he's making progress; as he recuperates, the music notation is becoming easier. In between visits from his aunt to check how he's going (terribly high, drawn-out Strine accent)—she comes far too often—he can compose. He's not too pleased with the lyrics (I may have influenced him there), but if he can get the overall structure right then maybe he can edit the words into place later—get the ideas down, as the composer said.

He wants to send it off soon, even in its incomplete form, to the director of the chorus. To get some feedback. His mind wants to perfect it first, to work for years until he's sick of the piece and doesn't believe in it anymore. But his mind is being defeated by his being sick; the heart is winning.

He still resists resting to begin with, then he relents, he has to. He wants to be up, but the sofa isn't comfortable enough. He goes to his room, undresses, pulls the curtains and gets into bed in the middle of the day. He has to survive.

He's becoming more and more like his sickness, like a virus; more and more like me, and I let him do what he most wants—he has the energy for that.