Testimonial For KingsA Story by Barry Thomas-Brown
Twenty Five minutes until kick off and I am gridlocked amongst hundreds of angry vehicles. Horns are boisterous; steering wheels are being man-handled. I’m a mile from the city centre, is it worth the risk? I see a space being guarded by two yellow lines. A fine is nothing compared to the pain of missing his testimonial.
I roll my car into the bay and begin my marathon run it’s the most exercise I have done in a decade. Dodging amongst a wave of black and white shirts, I see the Palace of Hope soaring over the city. Fifteen minutes before the whistle blows and I am halted at the gates. The stadium is under siege. Thousands of fans struggle to move. Yellow jackets on horses maintain order but allow the joyous atmosphere to flow.
People are singing songs with a drunken slur. Television crews loiter, forcing microphones into unsuspecting faces. I get in line and wait, closing my eyes, praying for a delayed start. Ten minutes later and it is my turn for the stamp. I slide my ticket to the booth controller and dart through the turnstile, pelting up the stairs. An elderly gentleman wearing a woollen hat shouts up at me.
“Oi, divint ya want ya scarf like?”
I turn around and regrettably shout down.
“Nah, you’re alreet mate.” and continue up the steps.
I walk out of the exit to 50,000 black scarves being hoisted in the air, twirling harmoniously to the adulation of the crowd. I feel like a gladiator entering an arena. For a moment I wish it was my name they were screaming. The lions are released from their cages and they run out onto the pitch under a wild roar. Camera flashes glitter around the stadium. I jog up to my seat and sit down unknowingly on his face. A charming lady sitting next to me whispers in my ear.
“You’re sitting on your mask pet.”
I pull it out from under me at the same instant everyone else slides theirs on. For the next ninety minutes we are him and we all stick our fingers in the air and chant his name. ‘Shearer! Shearer! Shearer!’
Then the whistle blows.
© 2011 Barry Thomas-Brown
Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, United Kingdom
AboutMy Life: writing, reading, hiking, single malt whiskey, a film then bed. more..
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