The Muse gig campaign was a Stonewaller. With great inspiration we laid a trail of destruction in our wake, living off the land, taking no prisoners before triumphing without any casualties. We had reached our goal within a few songs. In front of us, swelling as big as a carpet burn, stood the mighty legions of fans of the medieval torture instrument. They would be a more formidable foe.
Our numbers were only three: Chibber, Steff and me, sometimes less is more as stealth can win out in a crowd of 10,000. None of us knew the difference between tactics and strategy, all we knew was that our objective was to get to the front row. The front row is the ultimate in concert-going.
The hordes of long-haired, indelibly-inked, heavy metal-hardened warriors, oblivious as a Pearl Harborian circa 1941, banged their heads to the music, showering us with shrapnel dandruff that peppered down on us like a discarded skin ticker-tape parade. We took this volley in our stride as there would be worse horrors to endure.
“We’ve got the element of surprise on our side.” said Steff,” They’ve got their backs to us and we can attack them from behind.” This policy is fine against the weaker forces that patrol the rear of the crowd. And without much bloodshed we pushed and shoved our way through their ranks before they pulled back to a safe spot. We had made good progress.
Chibber always worried about our supply line. At the back of the hall stood a bar and the further forward we got the farther we were from the plastic-glassed warm beer that we subsisted on during our travails. Nobody said war was easy and sacrifices had to be made. Our throats were as dry as a vulture’s crotch.
I decided that we should use a flanking manoeuvre as advocated by the German military theorist Gottfried von Clausewitz. Steff disagreed and said that the great English General, Sir Alf Ramsey, preferred a frontal attack and ruled the world with his wingless wonders.
“That was in 1066, wasn’t it?” said Chibber.
Pulling out a map of the venue, I explained that there is more room on the outskirts to move. We could cut a dash with our greater mobility against the lesser protected outposts that are already weakened by the noise from the speakers. I made my pitch using a combat situation that you won’t find in any textbooks on war. Picture a crowded subway station with passengers waiting to embark; the man on the edge of the queue will enter the carriage quicker and more easily than the jostling, convoluted centre.
“We could try crowd-surfing.” Steff offered. “When we’re three rows from the front, we parachute ourselves down and then we’ve almost reached our target.”
I cut him off as being the only one in the company to have read The Art of Captaincy by Mike Brearley, I knew what I was talking about. “Too dangerous. You never know where the surf will take you. You could end up in a mosh pit and God knows what a Maiden mosh pit is like or when you’re three rows from the front, the heavy brigade might throw you right into the moat.”
Steff wasn’t put off. “Wait a SECC, sometimes the catapulters don’t know their own strength and there’s a chance you could be arrowed onto the stage.”
The stage! Now that would be beyond our wildest dreams. None of us had ever made it onto the stage before. Captured by camera phone -a sure-fire You Tube one-hit wonder film- we would fight with security as Iron Maiden -true troopers- played on. The crowd would hope that our search and destroy mission for that confounded Monty Python record would be a success.
At this point Eddie the Head emerged triggering a startling metamorphosis in Chibber. We forgot the effect that Eddie has on him. It takes a monster to bring out the infant in an infantryman. With no regard for his safety Chibber launches a ferocious solo assault giving us no alternative but to follow our china and go gung-ho.
My elbows had about twenty-two teeth in them by the time we neared the front line. Matted, my face was drenched in sweat that I knew wasn’t mine. Heaven knows what germs were festering in the invasive body odour of the fanatics around us. Using the gorilla warfare technique of chest thumping Steff and I made some space to breathe. We were four rows away from the band that by this time were belting out the classics. Soon though, our siege position was becoming unsustainable. We were being compacted like garbage. Native to this cramped environment is the dianoga and the thought of one appearing made our neck skin crawl.
We had to retreat; no shame in that. From our new base of operations we could plan a counter-attack. As for Chibber, he was MIA. Though knowing that mercenary, he’ll probably be on the front row and holding his ground.
The bugle sounds the charge begins
but on this battlefield no one wins
the smell of acrid smoke and horses breath
as I plunge on into certain death