Not the important words, the kind you whisper in someone's ear in bed when you are holding them close in the afterglow, words like schatz and verzauberte and bessessen von dich. Oh, and you know how to say 'my hovercraft is full of eels' for a laugh, although you doubt Annette will see the joke. So you don't attempt it. You can also sing The Lorelei and Roselein Rot, but you don't try these either.
Even in the nerdy 1970s, that nerdiest of decades, there are red lines of nerdiness which you just must not cross.
You want to tell her, not about hovercrafts and eels, but about love and dreams, so strongly that your heart does, actually, physically ache, here and now, tell her before Bumble and Fudge come back from their foraging and need to be taken home to lie in their baskets and snore and fart the evening away, now, while there is just the two of you and the ice-cream vans and Sunday trippers have both melted away, out of focus, in the background, and in that same background you can hear the peculiar chimes of the Minster stealing on the teatime air, distantly but still distinct, with the melody that you will later learn, as you progress onwards through life's dreary pageant, was composed by organist John Camidge, during his tenure there from 1876 to 1939.
Peculiar chimes, because you know that the quarter chimes are in the North-West tower and the hour bell is in the South-West tower.
The Quarter bells are in the left hand tower and the hour bell (Great John) is in the right hand tower. The clock movement itself is in the tower, with some sort of trigger going across to the right hand tower to strike the hours. Great John is seven and a half tons heavy, but it's not medieval, surprisingly enough, as Dr Kryzwicki probably knows, it was only put up in 1901.
You realise you have been drifting again, but at least this time the organs in your thoughts aren't sexual. Annette seems to be enjoying the afternoon sun anyway, and she hasn't actually told you
to go away and leave her alone, although that could of course be because she's too polite, and/or doesn't know the correct words to do it in English. She wouldn't be interested in the history of the Minster, either, she's probably heard it all before from Dr Kryzwicki, and much more authoritatively and entertainingly. So instead, you just smile at her and suddenly, stunningly, she smiles back.
'Annette,' you venture, emboldened, 'do you ever, you know, go out, socially I mean?'
'All of my friends are back in Germany. But I have been out one or two times.'
'Would you like to come out sometime, with me I mean?'
There you go. You have done it now, and everything hangs on the next second. This is one of those points of time when it could go either way, when a whole sequence of consequences hangs on the
pendulum, whether the old clock in the Minster goes 'tick' or 'tock', a binary number world, where the answer will either be true or not true, a one or a zero. Your anxiety flushes into your face and you fear for a moment it will steam up your glasses. But, surprisingly, in a matter-of-fact voice, she simply says 'Yes, OK.'
'We could go to a pub, for a drink, maybe?' Again, you haven't thought this through. She can't drive, or if she can, she doesn't have a car over here, you can't take a pillion passenger on your provisional licence (and you only have one crash helmet!) and even in the 1970s, there are limits on drinking and driving, or even riding a moped, so it will have to be somewhere you can get to on the bus or the train.
'I could come to Beverley one evening, perhaps. On the train? Der Zug?' You add, helpfully.
'Oh, so you do know German?'
'Only a little, like I said. My Dad speaks very good German; he was stationed there, after the War.' The word has slipped out of your mouth before you even notice you've said it, and then your skin turns to ice. You said it. War. Warwarwarwarwarwarwar. You fucking idiot! War? What in the name of all the great gongs of Gehenna possessed you. War? Nooooooooo.
'Really,' she replies (to your almost-audible 'phew') 'Where was he stationed?'
'Recklingshausen. You may have heard of it.'
'I know it. I am from Gelsenkirchen.'
You aren't sure where this is going. You don't know Gelsenkirchen from a hole in the ground, and in fact, your father may have actually been instrumental in causing Gelsenkirchen to look like a hole in the ground, so it may be better to steer the conversation back to safer seas. Before you sink like a brick in the waters of your own gaffes. And stop thinking in bloody metaphors, do something, say anything.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Scene In Suburban Hell By Laura Fry
Nothing unusual ever happens in Sandwalsh. People don't tend to move away to pastures new. They know their neighbours, even if they are not exactly friends.
Perhaps they cry into their IKEA pillows every night, out of boredom, depression or sheer frustration, but if they do, they most definitely hide the unfortunate fact from public view. What people think is
Fiction - Career Opportunities A Joe Geraghty story
I was sat on an amplifier in the band's rehearsal room on Wincolmlee, secreted away on Bankside, a decaying industrial area of Hull. In front of me was the city's hottest band, Witham, presumably named after the area on the edge of the city centre.
Talk about a lack of imagination. From the way they were lounging around the room, I assumed I
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Hand that Rocked the Cradle By Lin Whitehouse
Hearing his mother's footsteps, the boy climbed out his bedroom window. They were both angry. He wanted to run away but it was a long drop and he might hurt himself.
She shouted when she saw him, sitting on the tiled roof, suddenly scared and remembering a time she had climbed out of a similar window.
He hugged his knees not wanting to look at her; she could not look away
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Resurrection By Leah Scarpati
The rhythmical drip-drip of condensation echoed around the cave. Kate couldn't see her hand in front of her face, were her eyes even open? The fall had shattered her torch as well as her ankle; as the pain continued to bite, panic rose. She couldn't feel her toes.
Hours of calling for help had been swallowed by the chasm of darkness,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Latter-Day Luddite Saves the Day By Laura Fry
The police were on a coffee break, at a loss. Despite all the technology, the wanted man had got the better of them. They didn't notice the young woman at the opposite table with an old-fashioned tape recorder, on her way to teach a friend's child German.
She had found the man who had just left the café somewhat suspicious and pressed record.
This latter-day Luddite was able to tell
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Lost Property By Manuro
My dreadful husband died at an elephant hospice. To this day, whenever I see a sick elephant I feel a rush of overwhelming joy! I changed my name in 1979 and never foresaw the problems this would entail - car insurance, washing machine hire purchase agreements.
Women are named through male lineage: we disappear over time, our identity the property of others.
Fiction - Two Sides of the Same Tattoo Needle. By Leah Scarpati
Well I can certainly say I've learned my lesson! Mummy had always warned me about expressing myself through body art, tattoos, piercings and such like; but the more she told me not to, the more determined I became to disobey her.
"It's just not what people like us do dahhling," she purred in-between a long drag of a cigarette and a sip of her dry martini. "Just because
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Beginnings and Endings By Lin Whitehouse
It's a hypothetical question, what if - my father hadn't died in June - I hadn't known about my husband's girlfriend - I hadn't looked up when I did?
I was caught in a web and struggled to avoid his gaze, felt myself flush. I drowned in his smiling eyes. Could he see my outer sorrow, sense the inner excitement I concealed?
It's funny, funerals signify an end, but I felt something was
Fiction - Hangover By Leah Scarpati
The day ended as it had begun - disastrously. From the minute she opened one sticky mascara eye, then the other and the hangover woodpecker began to tap-tap-tap at her head; she knew the day was a right off. Her head hurt so much she could she feel her hair growing, her tongue was dry like an arid river bed and was fixed to the top of her mouth;
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Say No More By Joe Hakim
I'm on my way to the shops. I don't see him until I nearly step on his head.
I look down at the man on the floor, and notice he's on a bike - crotch on seat, feet on pedals, hands on handlebar. Like he's been zapped by a super-villain's freeze ray and toppled over.
I look around to make sure it isn't some kind of prank.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he replies.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Depressive and a Botched Suicide By Laura Fry
And once again boats sail down the Danube, but you; don't worry about me any more, I'm like leaves, the wind blows me away, wolves die alone...
The mourners read the translation of the deceased's beloved Croatian song. The male voice booms from the CD through Hull Crematorium, bringing additional shivers to the late autumn Yorkshire morning. The European flag
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Fun and Games By Shep
It was easier than he thought. Several swings of the bat and his problem had disappeared like the last drag of his cigarette. He looked at the windows adjacent to where he stood; half expecting to see the neighbours looking on with horror and disgust, but there was not a face in sight.
He smiled to himself and walked down the garden path back to his front door. Read more...
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Conversation In A Small Room By Manuro
'I went to the shops
And bought a new toffee
Hammer. The old one got
Damaged during the 'incident'
With those burglars.
You remember, waking up with
Some Burberry-capped thug in
Fiction - Beyond An Accidental Shoreline By Christopher Skolik
Dennison had covered some disturbing assignments in his time;
Neo-psychopathology and its preoccupations concerning future psychological abnormality.
Contagious mental illness and media psychosis, the way suicide or spree killing spread thru lines of communication.
Mutant-criminology and the adaptation of deviancy in our strange new psychological landscape.