A New Tes­ta­ment and tin of tobacco proved the in­spi­ra­tion for a novel set, in part, be­fore the out­break of World War I. Au­thor Steve God­dard ex­plains

The Church of England - - Feature - Rat­tles & Rosettes was pub­lished by Ship of Fools Ltd on Fri 25 April, price £7.99. http://www.fory­our­book­case.com/Books/0001331

an­other packet of Play­ers No 6.

It set me think­ing of Beg­gar’s Ban­quet, an al­bum re­leased by the Rolling Stones in 1968. The orig­i­nal cover, de­pict­ing a des­e­crated pub­lic toi­let, was banned at the time and only emerged with the re­lease of the CD in 1984. Above the pedestal, one of the scrawled lines of graf­fitti de­clares ‘God rolls his own.’ It’s an im­age I’ve al­ways loved – the Almighty reach­ing for his breast pocket to con­tem­plate cre­ation. It seemed to make sense at a key point in Rat­tles & Rosettes.

It is the af­ter­wards of love. Just af­ter­wards. No more than 12 short sec­onds af­ter­wards. Sweet still­ness has taken re­pose af­ter the sen­sual storm. Limbs lie limp and dis­en­tan­gled. One fran­tic heart beats smoothly as two again. Twelve sec­onds af­ter such ab­surd ec­stasy, Dan con­sid­ers re-work­ing his CV. He needs a good ref­er­ence from some­where, too. His for­mer em­ployer is un­likely to be help­ful. Then there are to­mor­row’s re­hearsals for Sun­day’s au­di­tion at Lan­cashire’s leading trib­ute pub – The 4000 Holes in Black­burn, Lan­cashire. Twelve short sec­onds and pas­sion has given way to prag­ma­tism, mys­ti­cal to mun­dane. He en­vies smok­ers who light up af­ter­wards. It must calm the nerves, soothe the trou­bled breast.

And, for no good rea­son, he thinks dis­tantly about pro­cre­ation and how it mir­rors cre­ation it­self: life-force re­leased in one ex­plo­sive act. And, for no good rea­son, too, he thinks of God. Not Palace goal­keeper Ju­lian Sper­oni this time but the old feller up there, some­where way be­yond the red and blue. Per­haps he is still re­cov­er­ing from the shock of his own cre­ation. Never mind the earth, the en­tire uni­verse must have moved for him. And now, here we are, in the af­ter­wards of it all. A long time af­ter­wards. And maybe the old feller is still dis­tracted. Maybe that is why he shows lit­tle con­cern over the en­su­ing tur­moil. Per­haps, bil­lions of years af­ter the big­gest of bangs, he is draw­ing long and hard on one he’s rolled him­self, think­ing of other things.

I can’t help imag­in­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of young men at the be­gin­ning of the last century, who found them­selves at the pearly gates, cut down be­fore their prime. And, far from be­ing dis­tracted, I’d like to imag­ine the Almighty putting an arm round each one and, with the other, reach­ing into his breast pocket.

Steve God­dard

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