Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Want to Hear Now, the Modern Sound/So I Won't Feel Alone at Night


I got a new stereo for Christmas. The old one is the one I've had since Christmas 1995, and is showing its age: there's no DAB, the CD player doesn't play all CDs, there's no way of attaching an MP3 player, and there's a twin tape deck of the kind no-one uses anymore. But this is the only stereo I've ever owned: I used it to hear most of the music I've ever heard for the first time, and it was with me from secondary school and 6th Form on to Nottingham, London, Liverpool, and then back here. It was, indeed, the radio on to help me from being lonely late at night.

It's wrong, of course, to feel emotions about mass-produced items of consumer electronics, but I don't think I'll be taking the stereo to the tip in the way that I did my old DVD player earlier in the year. It also seems unlikely that I'll ever have any kind of feelings about any other stereos.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas at Song Be

At midnight, celebration was interrupted by the sound of machine gun fire in the distance. The revelers trooped outside to see if they were going to have to fight on Christmas Eve. There were hard words concerning the ancestry of the enemy. Across the wire, across the outpost line, across the valley of no-man’s land were the crests occupied habitually by the “opposition.” From these heights there rose a stream of green, Soviet made “tracer.” The celebrants contemplated this for a minute, and then Suarez suggested a reply. An M-60 machine gun emerged from the house, and while one man fired red tracer into the air, another held the bipod above his head and another fed the gun its belted ammunition. The streams of bullets crossed in the black, star-studded sky. The VC gun fell silent, as did the American. There was a hush as warriors waited for some sign that the hope of common humanity yet lived. The VC fire resumed. Now there were three guns shooting green stars into the blackness. The MI men’s gun chattered merrily, spilling a river of shell casings into the street. Red and green filled the night.
- W. Patrick Lang, The Huron Carol (2007)

An account of a small incident that took place in Vietnam at Christmas 1968. Like most stories of Christmas truces during wars, there's a sad epilogue.