The War Journal: And The Bands Played On
Ratty had returned from the ale house stinking of Hobgoblins. He emptied himself of his denim jacket but kept on his black muscle T-shirt. He had great affection for his T-shirt stained as it was with the bloodied sauces of defeated kebabs. It also doubled as a good night shirt. Plonking his torso down on the settee Ratty readied himself for sleep awaiting his nightly nightmare with relish.
“There’s nothing better than a good nightmare.” he said to himself. “I wonder what devil Beelzebub has put aside for me tonight?”
His nightmare wasn’t long in coming, he wasn’t even asleep and it wasn‘t the nightmare he wanted. Across the street his neighbour had started to play one of his classical CD’s. It was Beethoven’s 9th symphony and it was playing at symphonic sound level.
“Not that garbage again.” Ratty said to himself.
Ratty looked out his window and saw a little silhouette of his neighbour on the pale white blinds. The shadow began to sway like a demented cobra to the music. An outline of a sawn-off snooker cue poked out from the visage of one of the hands. The cue was scribbling violent sums in the air. Ratty’s neighbour was conducting to the beat of the music of the first movement. This was a kind of classical music version of air guitar.
Ratty could not see the point in classical music. There were no decent riffs. Symphonies sounded as if they were made up on the spot. So many needless notes that have nothing to do with the overall piece. The tune goes from high to low, from loud to soft, from instrument to instrument without any reason whatsoever. And the audience. They just sit there like statues. They’ve a cheek to call their verses movements. Classical music is not a Playtex, Ratty thought, there’s no uplift in it.
To drown out the discordant airwaves blowing from the apartment of the powdered wig conductor, Ratty spun a few songs on his CD player-
Kiss- God of Thunder
Twisted Sister- We’re Not Gonna Take It
These songs did nothing to stop the conductor. Still he flailed away at his ghastly sounding symphony. It’s time to put the make-up away and up the stakes, said Ratty. Muse’s Hysteria was next up in his play list. The song ended at the same time as the first movement. From across the road was heard the many different voices of people coughing.
“See. That’s the type of music that gives you the plague. Coughing and spluttering all over the place. Beethoven. I bet he was a lagerboy.” shouted Ratty to the conductor.
And then the second movement started. That really is garbage, thought Ratty. That Beethoven guy must be deaf. Deaf and degenerate. The degenerate Beethoven was the E. L. James of his day, writing all those erotica symphonies. Well, this will be his Waterloo, thought Ratty. These Napoleonic wars have gone on long enough and it was time to hit the conductor with more recent historical warfare tunes. He crushed an Iron Maiden CD into the player. A medley of the Irons’ finest World War II anthems blasted from the speakers:
Where Eagles Dare
The Longest Day.
At the same time the Maiden repertoire ended so too did the second movement of the 9th. An eerie calm descended as hostilities ceased for the moment. This was almost like a startling reincarnation of the Christmas truce of 1914. Ratty was about to ask the conductor if he wanted a game of football when the opening bars of the third movement resonated from the apartment across the way. The slow, sombre dirge put Ratty in a rage.
“That’s music for a funeral. Well, you’d better order a hearse. We don’t do ballads over here.” said Ratty.
The heavy artillery were now brought onto the battlefield. Ratty bombarded the conductor with the heaviest metal man has ever known: Slayer, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Meshuggah, Anthrax. This blistering, lengthy set ended with Machinehead’s Aesthetics of Hate. Ratty screamed out the famous motif of the song.
“I hope you burn in hell.”
The sheer sonic noise bombarded the battleground. The wallpaper was stripped to the floor. At last Ratty felt he had won as from the conductor’s room he could hear the sound of a thousand people crying. He turned the volume down on his CD. They weren’t crying, they were singing. Singing in some kind of strange language. Barbarians, thought Ratty.
There was nothing left but to fight fire with fire or was it fight fire with water? Ratty didn’t know. All he knew was that it was elemental. It’s time to beat the choir at their own game. He inserted Bohemian Rhapsody into his machine and fast forwarded to the opera section. The Galilieos and Fandangos’ had the vases tinkling. From across the street the 9th stopped in mid-song with a start. The conductor opened his window and shouted to Ratty.
“That’s garbage,” and then he cranked Ode to Joy up to eleven.